Not quite as gut-wrenching as last week, but the Huskies fell to #2 ranked Oregon 45-24 at Husky Stadium. The game itself was fast paced, and at points the Huskies looked better than Oregon, but at the end of the day Oregon gets another 20+ point win over the Huskies. To add insult to injury, the Huskies blew their chance to be in a first-place tie in the Pac-12 North after Utah upset #5 Stanford today.
It was a special day at Montlake though. ESPN’s College Gameday was on Campus, and about 600 fans braved the early morning cold and rain to show their support of for the Huskies (as well as some fans who dressed in puke green to support Oregon). It was the first time the football version has made an appearance in Seattle. Kirk Herbstreit, an analyst on Gameday, said, “We wanted to come here for so long, and to finally be able to get the show here, it lived up to everything that we had hoped for”. I can honestly say I have never laugh so hard after seeing some the signs that were on TV today. My personal favorite was when Lane Kiffin, recently fired coach of USC, was on and in the background was a sign that said “Remember when Lane Kiffin had a job.” Despite the loss, this is the type of thing that will get the Huskies back on the national radar, and hopefully back to the success they had in the Don James era.
With the nation’s eyes on Montlake the Huskies came out firing. They held Oregon to 115 yards and 7 points in the First quarter. Keith Price hit Austin Seferian-Jenkins from eight yards out for a touchdown with 3:32 left to tie the game at seven. In the second quarter, after an Oregon three-and-out, the Huskies made their first mistake. On a 3rd-and-8 from the Oregon 36, Bishop Sankey got close to the first down, but then fumbled. Oregon recovered. The Ducks then went 69 yards on eight plays to make it 14-7 on the scoreboard. The Huskies subsequently gave Oregon another chance after a three-and-out, and Oregon took full advantage going 63 yards this time and making it 21-7—a score that held until the half.
With their backs against the wall, the Huskies found themselves 4th-and-inches at their own 40. Sankey found a hole and scampered to the endzone to make it 21-14. Washington had life, momentum and energy that lasted precisely one minute and eight seconds. Marcus Mariota hit Josh Huff for a 65-yard catch and run to the house to make 28-14. Washington, however, grinded their way back. After both teams kicked field goal to make 31-17, the Huskies mounted an eight-play, 75-yard drive, capped of by a 25-yard Sankey run to make it 31-24 going into the 4th.
But in typical fashion, as we’ve come to see, the wheels just fell off for Washington. Mariota led the Ducks on a five-play drive that lasted only 1:31 and ended with a touchdown. Then, following a Washington punt, Oregon added another touchdown with 7:37 to make it 45-24. Oregon was able to halt the Huskies on their final drive and run out the clock.
At points today, Keith price was out of sync with his receivers, going 19 of 32 for 182 yards, one touchdown and a pick. His counterpart, Marcus Mariota, was 24 of 31 for 366 yards, three TDs and no picks. Bishop Sankey was the spark plug for the Huskies offense with 28 carries for 167 yards and two TDs. He also had five catches for 38 yards.
Give the Huskies credit, though. They were tied after the first quarter 7-7, and twice in the second half they were within a touchdown of Oregon, a team that elicits statements like, “God couldn’t stop this offense” from most people west of the Mississippi. But this is a different Huskies team with better talent, coaching, and recruiting. This team has high expectations and expects that every Saturday they can go out and compete with the best teams in the country. I love the physicality and mentality of this team, and they are almost back to where they were in the glory days of Washington football…almost.