It’s entirely possible that Thursday’s Washington Huskies football game was the most amazing sporting event I’ve attended in person. This has been a hell of a year for live sporting events in Seattle too. I missed Felix’s perfect game, but attended the Supreme Court game, and this game was the second amazing finish in Seattle this week.
But the real great part about this defeat of Stanford was how the Huskies beat them. There wasn’t much speculation on how the Huskies could win this game, because despite a seven point betting line, this game seemed like much more of a long shot. Stanford was coming off of a convincing defeat of USC, and despite an absolute massacre of Portland State, many Huskies fans are still icing the welts from the whooping LSU put on the Dawgs in Baton Rouge three weeks ago.
Many pundits assumed that any Huskies victory would be a Keith Price show, with the Huskies standout quarterback throwing a disproportionate amount of times. The actual result couldn’t have been any further from that strategy.
Granted, Price would throw the ball 37 times, but most of his throws were close to the line of scrimmage, and even his big gain completion to Kasen Williams was basically a smoke screen that Williams turned into a big play, not a play that relied on Price’s arm talent.
The true star of the show though was Bishop Sankey. Sankey seemed to have fallen out of favor with some factions of Huskies fans who perhaps don’t fully appreciate the level of talent that Chris Polk had. Polk was a versatile, athletic, and physical back. If he’d played for the Huskies in the mid-90s he’d be a legend, instead he’s viewed as simply a very good player on some very mediocre teams.
Sankey could be very good also, but the assumption has always been that he’d do it a different way. Sankey’s 61 yard touchdown run is what will receive most of the ink, and deservedly so, but Sankey showed a true willingness to cut north and south and take the holes that were available inside. Sankey had his coming out party on Thursday, and if he can be remotely successful this Huskies offense will have a component that most though it wouldn’t have for a long time when Chris Polk opted to leave for the NFL this winter.
Midway through the game, after Kasen Williams caught one of many short passes in the game, I turned to my buddy and said “there’s no reason he shouldn’t get 10 touches a game.” Williams would end the game with 10 receptions for 129 yards, but his big play was a 35 yard touchdown catch that was mostly self-created. Williams caught a ball in the right flat, made one man miss, and powered his way to the endzone.
Noticably absent though—which is disappointing any time it happens—was Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The Stanford Cardinal have a pretty good linebacking corps, but Seferian-Jenkins is an elite college tight end.
The Huskies defense was particularly stout, also. After allowing more than 1,000 yards rushing to Stanford in the teams’ last three meetings, the Huskies controlled the Stanford running game. Stanford runningback Stepfan Taylor came into the game averaging more than five yards per carry, and had busted off runs of 59 and 38 so far this season. The Huskies held him to a modest 75 yards on 21 carries, but more importantly, Taylor and his Cardinal teammates never rushed the ball for more than seven yards on a single play.
The one major blemish was the pick-six that Keith Price threw as he tried to throw into the right flat which was intercepted by Stanford linebacker Trent Murphy. That was more than made up for by Desmond Trufant’s masterful coverage on fourth down when Stanford quarterback Josh Nunes threw a deep fade to Levine Toiolo, and Trufant picked the pass off (though he should have just knocked it out of bounds).
But when the clock hit zeros, the Huskies had the lead. And the fans rushed the field. The fans rushed the field when their team upset a top 10 team in the country. There are people out there who will tell you that you shouldn’t rush the field. That the history of this program makes a win over Stanford in the middle of the season isn’t significant enough to rush the field. Fuck those people. There have been close to two-decades of relative mediocrity, and most students at UW have very little or no memory of the 2001 Rose Bowl Championship team.
And if the Huskies win next week in Eugene, and you’re down there to watch the Ducks get roasted, rush again. And if they beat USC the week after, rush again. Make it your good luck charm Dawg fans. You deserve it.