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Washington Falls to USC, 26-13: Instant Reactions

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The Huskies suffered their first loss since Nov. 14, 2015, but still are in a prime position to play for the Pac-12 championship.

NCAA Football: Southern California at Washington Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

In case you’d forgotten, going undefeated is really, really hard. For the first time in exactly 365 days, the Huskies lost a football game, with tonight’s loss coming at the hands of the resurgent USC Trojans by a final score of 26-13.

The game didn’t truly get away from the Huskies until the early fourth quarter, when the USC offense managed to turn first-and-goal from the 24-yard line into seven points by way of a Sam Darnold touchdown pass to Daniel Imatorbhebhe. But the Husky offense looked oddly out of sorts for long stretches of the game, thanks mostly to incredible execution on the part of the USC defense. Throughout the night, USC sacked Jake Browning three times, tallied six tackles for loss, corralled two interceptions and sealed the game late in the fourth quarter with a safety.

On offense, USC quarterback Sam Darnold played the game of his life, carving up UW’s elite secondary to the tune of 23 completions on 33 attempts for 287 yards (8.7 yards per attempt), two touchdowns and two interceptions. In particular, Darnold drove a dagger into the heart of the home team by completing nine passes for 17 yards or more, and was responsible for 15 of USC’s 20 first-downs. Washington struggled to pressure Darnold for most of the game, rarely managing to pressure him to hurry throws and registering just a single sack.

At 9-1, Washington’s College Football Playoff hopes are on life support, though the door wouldn’t fully close on them if they were to finish the season as a 12-1 Pac-12 champion.

This week’s edition of instant reaction dots:

  • UW’s offensive stats per game coming into tonight: 48.3 points, 499 yards , 6.6 touchdowns. Tonight: 13 points, 276 yards, and one touchdown.
  • UW’s defensive stats per game coming into tonight: 17.0 points, 329.8 yards, 2.1 touchdowns. Tonight: 26 points, 400 yards, and three touchdowns.
  • Azeem Victor’s painful-looking leg injury will perhaps the game’s most impactful development with regard to the rest of the Dawgs’ schedule. Washington fans doubtless hope against hope that he’ll see the field of play again this year, but it is entirely within the realm of possibility that we’ve seen him play his final down of Husky football.
  • Washington has made a habit this season of dominating opponents in the first half, but that was far from the case today. In the game’s first 30 minutes, the Trojans outgained the Huskies 232 yards to 159, gained 7.48 yards per play against Washington’s 4.54, and converted four of five third-down attempts while the Huskies went five-for-10.
  • In particular, Browning did not play a sharp first half. In today’s first two quarters, the nation’s leader in passing efficiency coming into the game completed 11 of 18 attempts for 123 yards and an interception. He finished the night 17/36 for 259 yards (7.2 yards per attempt), one touchdown and two picks.
  • Tonight was Browning’s first multi-interception game since playing ASU last year. During that stretch when Browning threw one or zero interceptions, the Huskies went 12-0.
  • The Husky defense looked completely out of sorts on USC’s second touchdown drive. In that nine-play sequence that culminated in a Ronald Jones score, Sam Darnold completed passes of 7, 25, 21 and 22 yards. Coming into today, the Huskies had yielded 20 or more yards on passing plays to its opponents just 20 times, a figure that ranked second in the Pac-12 and seventh in the nation.
  • Up next, Washington welcomes Arizona State to Husky Stadium. The Huskies haven’t beaten the Sun Devils since 2000.