Bowl hopes were on the line for the University of Washington Football team as they traveled to Corvallis to take on Oregon State for the 100th time in the history of the rivalry.
The Huskies needed a win to stay alive and they delivered by routing Oregon State at Reser Stadium by a score of 52-7.
It was a romp of a game on both sides of the ball for UW. Washington scored 45 points in the first half alone - a feat that has been repeated only two other times in program history - while holding the Beavers completely off of the scoreboard until UW started emptying their bench.
Offensively, the Huskies focused on getting the rushing attack on track and in getting their offensive line some downhill momentum. The Beavers were helpless to stop the UW O-Line or RB Myles Gaskin who rushed for 127 yards on 23 carries. A focused effort to get the rush game going early, as demonstrated by Gaskins getting 20 attempts in the first half alone, translated into a very efficient game for QB Jake Browning who continued to impress with both his decision making and his accuracy. Browning finished the night completing 18 of 20 (90%) for 211 yards and 4 TDs.
Defensively, the Huskies were something that was just short of dominating against a clearly overmatched OSU offense. Perhaps still feeling the sting of their collapse a week ago against ASU, the Huskies D took the home crowd out of the game early. The Huskies held OSU to just one first down and one long play from scrimmage that ended up not turning into any points over the entirety of the first half.
The Huskies were able to get their entire depth chart plenty of reps during the second half. Backup QB KJ Carta-Samuels entered the game early in the third quarter, but did not attempt a pass as UW ran the ball on 29 straight plays spanning the third and fourth quarters.
Here are some Dots.
- You don't want to overstate the significance of this win given that the opponent is one that is not only rebuilding but is also dealing with significant injuries across the roster. In fact, OSU has treated the last two weeks of practice like "Bowl season" practices with young players getting reps off of the scout team as Gary Andersen and his staff start figuring out how their nucleus in 2016 is going to look.
- The story of the game for UW was the return of UW's rushing attack. UW had 58 attempts at nearly 5 yards per carry for the game, including those 29 straight runs where everybody in the stadium knew UW was going to run it (UW averaged nearly 7 YPC over the first three quarters). I don't want to rehash the arguments from last week, but it is obvious that this team functions better when the run is setting up the pass. The O-Line is more comfortable run blocking, Gaskin is the best pure playmer on the team and QB Jake Browning seems to find his rhythm in the passing game better when his running game is taking the pressure off.
- All those bubble screens that fans have lamented for the better part of two seasons finally paid dividends for the Huskies. The first UW TD came on a pass to a wide open Brayden Lenius that started out as a bubble screen. The Beaver defenders misread their assignments with two CBs rushing the screener while Lenius leaked into the open seam. Browning read it and hit him on what might be the easiest TD pass he's ever thrown at any level.
- The growth of QB Jake Browning is quite evident, particularly in how he handles blitzes. OSU DC Kilani Sitake called a very aggressive game, perhaps encouraged by what ASU put on take against UW a week ago. However, Browning was very steady in the face of pressure both in keeping his eyes up and stepping up into the pocket. Impressive form for a true freshman.
- With a little less than 5 minutes left in the first quarter, OSU freshman RB Paul Lucas broke off a 76 yard rush that got the ball to the UW 6 yard line. It was an impressive run. But the most impressive part of that play was that LB Travis Feeney was able to chase Lucas down from a starting point of 10 yards behind the runner. The fact that the Beavers got zero points out of that sequence means that Feeney quite literally gave the Dawgs back 6 points. It was an impressive show of hustle and commitment from a player who his having a DPOY kind of season.
- Dante Pettis hasn't had the kind of season as a receiver that many were hoping, but you can't complain about his special teams play. His second punt return for a score of the season was a beaut.
- How nice has it been to see Darrell Daniels involved in the offense for a second straight week?
- Speaking of "showing up", Joe Mathis was extremely active all game. I'm guessing that we don't know the full extent of his injury situation this year. The burst he was showing today was at a different level from what we've seen most of the year and a reminder that this guy really has a high ceiling.
- Blowouts like this always create opportunities to see some players fans rarely get to see get some meaningful reps. It was fun to see depth guys like OG Jesse Sosebee, LB Sean Constatine and DB Jordan Miller get lots of snaps. It was also great to get some glimpses of guys like RB Lavon Coleman (just run forward, young man), RB Jomon Dotson, and RB Ralph Kinne get it in there. It was also interesting to see OL Shane Brostek come in as the backup Center.
- We've got to close this with a general comment about the defense. The nature of the competition makes discerning anything schematically hard to do. However, what you'd hope to see in a situation like this is a certain amount of physical domination coupled with a high energy level. I thought the Dawgs demonstrated some pride by playing physical and efficient at each level. They swarmed to the ball, showed effort in the pass rush and never stopped trying to strip the ball. An effort like this will obviously pad UW's league-leading stats but will also give WSU a lot of tape to consider as they prepare for the Apple Cup on a short week.
The Huskies have one to win one in their quest for bowl eligibility. The Apple Cup is a noon kickoff this Friday in Seattle.