No. 6 Washington tops No. 23 Washington State 45-17
PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) — Budda Baker was walking to the sideline in the fourth quarter when he was jostled from behind by someone in crimson, who then proceeded to chirp at Washington’s standout safety.
Baker heard what was said, turned, and pointed at the closed end of Martin Stadium.
“All I had to do was look at the scoreboard,” Baker said.
It told the story of a day of dominance by No. 6 Washington in a 45-17 rout of No. 23 Washington State that put the Huskies into the Pac-12 championship game and on the cusp of a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Washington (11-1, 8-1 Pac-12, No. 5 CFP) rolled from the outset, using a 28-point first quarter behind three touchdown passes from quarterback Jake Browning to claim the Pac-12 North title and keep the Apple Cup in Seattle for a fourth straight year
A win in the Pac-12 title game next Friday against Colorado or Southern California would likely land the Huskies in the college football version of the final four.
“It doesn’t matter. I’m just glad the (Huskies) are there and hopefully we’ll show up and play our best game of the year,” Washington coach Chris Petersen said.
Browning threw for 292 yards but it was the first quarter that set the stage. Browning tossed all three touchdown passes in the first 15 minutes, hitting Dante Pettis on plays of 18 and 61 yards and John Ross on a 6-yarder. Browning had 243 yards passing by halftime, the Huskies had 386 total yards at the break and even Washington State’s third-quarter rally didn’t make Washington sweat.
Washington tied a school record with the 28-point first quarter and the four straight over the Cougars (8-4, 7-2, No. 23 CFP) is the longest streak since the Huskies won six straight between 1998-2003.
“It’s what we expected. We expected to be off to a fast start,” Washington defensive lineman Elijah Qualls said. “That’s what we worked on all week. We knew we could do it.”
Browning completed 21 of 29 passes, becoming the third quarterback in Pac-12 history with at least 40 TD passes in a season. Ross had eight catches for 80 yards and his 16th TD catch of the season.
Washington State quarterback Luke Falk was 33 of 50 passing for 269 yards and a 9-yard TD pass to Gabe Marks in the third quarter, but was intercepted three times. More damaging, the Cougars were unable to score on three drives inside the Washington 10.
“I thought we were too quick to press. I thought we made more out of it than it was,” Washington State coach Mike Leach said.
Eight years after this matchup was mocked because of how bad the two teams were, the Apple Cup was back on a stage of national relevance as the North title game and regarded by many fans as the most important matchup of the 109 meetings.
It became a purple party for the Huskies that made the trip over the Cascade Mountains to the Palouse.
Lavon Coleman added 82 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns. His 15-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter capped a 98-yard drive and sent many clad in crimson back to the tailgating lots.
Washington rolled up 386 yards in the first half, 252 coming in the first quarter and capitalized on three mistakes by Washington State.
Jamal Morrow fumbled on Washington State’s opening possession and eight plays later, Pettis caught an 18-yard touchdown and Washington had a 14-0 lead. Later in the half, Gerard Wicks was stopped at the 1 on fourth-and-goal on a great play by Benning Potoa’e. And on the final drive of the first half, Falk was intercepted by Beavers in the end zone.
Down 35-17, Washington State had a chance to pull within 11 late in the third quarter, but Wicks was again stuffed on fourth-and-goal.
“On offense, we weren’t trying to do enough,” Marks said. “We were soft.”
Washington picked up another win over a ranked opponent that should impress voters and give the 1-loss Huskies a chance to leap Wisconsin and possibly the Ohio State-Michigan loser in both the AP Top 25 and the CFP rankings. Washington State is likely to fall out of the Top 25 after being ranked the past four weeks.
The apple on top of the trophy given to the winner of the Apple Cup was missing after it broke off on Thursday night. Petersen wouldn’t implicate the culprit but said it was barely touched and snapped. This doesn’t appear to be the first time the apple has broken off.
Washington: The big play was a key in Washington’s big first half. The Huskies had eight plays of 15 yards or more. That included the 61-yard touchdown to Pettis, the 22-yard touchdown run by Coleman and a mixture of other long plays like Darrell Daniels’ 50-yard catch on a double pass from Pettis and Ross’ 31-yard run.
Washington State: The Cougars’ defense was exposed for the second straight week. After holding California and Arizona to a combined 28 points, the Cougars gave up more than 500 total yards for the second straight week.
Washington: The Huskies will face Colorado or Southern California in the Pac-12 championship game next Friday.
Washington State: The Cougars will await a second straight bowl bid.
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