Huskies carve up Buffaloes, 59-7, to clinch bowl eligibility

Staff writerNovember 9, 2013 

— Swiftly and with great efficiency, the Washington Huskies demolished Colorado on Saturday night.

Simple as that. Add up the Huskies’ dominance, and it equals a 59-7 victory, a rout not unexpected – save for the absolute lopsidedness, maybe – before an announced crowd of 66,599 at rainy Husky Stadium.

Nice numbers, sure. But the upshot here is not in the final score. It’s in the significance of the Huskies acquiring their sixth win, and the elevated importance of what lies ahead.

Washington (6-3, 3-3 in Pacific-12 Conference) is bowl eligible for the fourth consecutive season, an achievement that, not unlike Saturday’s result, was an absolute expectation when the season began.

The prestige of the bowl will be determined by a pair of big-boy road ventures: the Huskies next week travel to 16th-ranked UCLA for a Friday night game, then make the trip south to Corvallis the following week for an always-difficult matchup at Oregon State.

“I think we can just prove something to ourselves, first of all,” said running back Bishop Sankey, who rolled 143 yards on 23 carries. “Going in there with the mentality to play Husky football week in and week out is something we take pride in.”

These upcoming games – not this blowout of the lowly Buffaloes, and not the 41-17 rout of California two weeks ago – will determine whether these Huskies, owners now of a 6-3 record, have truly taken the necessary steps to shuck their reputation as seven-win wonders.

“We’re over it already,” UW coach Steve Sarkisian said of Saturday’s result. “The preparation’s already underway, and it has to be when you’re on a short week. And I think our guys understand that. They know this is a game of going down and facing a really talented UCLA team, a very well-coached team on a Friday night, a game that is pivotal for our season in the fourth quarter of our season.”

Afterward, UCLA game film was already playing in UW’s locker room. When the time comes to break down the film of Saturday night’s thumping of Colorado (3-6, 0-6), there won’t be much to criticize.

UW quarterback Keith Price led touchdown drives on four of UW’s first six drives, throwing touchdown passes to Josh Perkins and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the latter coming with two seconds left in the first half to give UW a 31-7 halftime lead.

By that point, the Huskies already had 464 yards of total offense, and Price had already completed 22 of his 29 passes for 312 yards.

He didn’t throw again. He didn’t need to. Senior cornerback Tre Watson returned an interception 84 yards for a touchdown on Colorado’s first possession of the second half, then one possession later, Sankey carried the Huskies inside the Buffaloes’ 5-yard line before Price walked in with a 4-yard touchdown.

A 53-yard fumble return for score by Marcus Peters and a 5-yard touchdown run by Dwayne Washington turned things real ugly.

How ugly? The Huskies outscored Colorado 28-0 in the second half ... and didn’t attempt a pass. And they finished with 628 yards of total offense. And they took a knee on fourth-and-3 at the Buffaloes’ 11-yard line in the final minutes.

Sarkisian admitted it was “a little odd” that the Huskies didn’t attempt a pass in the second half, but said he was simply trying to “respect the game.” And his defense took care of the scoring, anyway.

“The way that third quarter went, when we were scoring on defense – it wasn’t even on offense – it was a little bit odd,” Sarkisian said. “But again, I was happy for our defense because we need to do that. We need to create turnovers. We need to knock the ball loose and intercept passes, so that was big.”

Such dominance made this an ideal victory – impressive on the scoreboard, and about as physically taxing as a late-afternoon stroll down the Burke-Gilman Trail.

The rest obtained by UW’s starters should help the Huskies with their quick turnaround. The Bruins await five days from Sunday.

“UCLA is an excellent football team, as you guys know,” Price said. “It’s going to take our A-game. We’re going to have to be focused, and we’re going to have to finish strong. This is the time of year that you kind of find out what kind of team you have, so we’re looking forward to the challenge. It’s going to be fun.”

So was Saturday night, even if proof of ascension will have to wait.

christian.caple@thenewstribune.com

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