CORVALLIS, ORE. — By the time Bishop Sankey ambled across the goal line Saturday with his school-record-tying 34th career touchdown run, there were more empty seats than people remaining at Reser Stadium.
And by the time fourth-string running back Deontae Cooper took his fifth carry for his 145th rushing yard and second touchdown? Yeah, you get the picture.
This completely unforeseen supremacy by the Washington Huskies on both sides of the ball was not what Oregon State fans came to see. And so they left, and eventually the Huskies left with a dominant-as-it-gets 69-27 victory — no, really — that keeps alive their goal of winning more than seven regular-season games.
It also erased UW’s 10-year winless drought in Corvallis, and improved the Huskies’ bowl-game positioning on a day when a ninth team in the Pac-12 Conference became eligible for the postseason, and a seventh Pac-12 team earned its seventh victory.
Washington (7-4, 4-4 Pac-12) is among that group, increasing the chances that it will earn a bid to a bowl with a Pac-12 tie-in.
Cyler Miles or Keith Price? Didn’t matter. Washington was so much better than Oregon State in every facet of the game, the Huskies could have played just about anyone at quarterback.
Not that Miles didn’t play well. He did. The redshirt freshman, starting in place of Price (he sat with an injured right shoulder), completed 15 of his 24 pass attempts for 162 yards and a touchdown.
His best throw was a 28-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Smith in the back of the end zone, a score that pushed the Huskies’ lead to 27-0 with 6:36 still remaining in the first half.
By then, it was clear: this was not going to be a typical road game for Washington, which had won just seven since the beginning of the 2009 season.
This was complete domination of a team that seemed to match up pretty well with the Huskies on paper. It began from the opening kickoff, which freshman receiver John Ross returned 62 yards to Oregon State’s 38-yard line.
That was an easy starting point for Miles, who navigated the remaining distance to the end zone in seven plays, capping it with a 3-yard scoring run by Sankey.
The Beavers were forced three-and-out and punted. The Huskies scored again, this time needing only 34 seconds to cover 60 yards, as Sankey scored for the second time with a 5-yard run while the Beavers fans kept booing from the stands.
It didn’t get any better for Oregon State, which trailed 17-0 before earning a first down.
Sean Mannion, who entered the game as the nation’s leading passer, completed 20 of his 41 attempts for 229 yards, was sacked three times, and threw two interceptions to Huskies cornerback Marcus Peters — and a third to UW linebacker Shaq Thompson, who returned it 80 yards for a touchdown to put the Huskies ahead 48-0 late in the third quarter.
Brandin Cooks eventually caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from Mannion that ended the shutout, but in keeping with the spirit of this laugher, the Beavers missed the extra point.
That was after Cooper — three anterior cruciate ligament surgeries and all — had zipped 68 yards to the Beavers’ 2-yard line, then scored on the next play for his second career touchdown. It was also after Sankey had scored for the third time and 34th in his career, tying him with Napoleon Kaufman for the most career rushing touchdowns in school history.
Everything worked. The Huskies wound up with 692 yards of total offense. They rushed for 530 yards — second most in school history — and sat Sankey halfway through the third quarter after he’d carried 23 times for 179 yards. Washington even covered kicks better than it had all season, frequently pinning Oregon State inside its own 20-yard line, making it difficult for the Beavers to flip field position in their favor.
Now Washington State, fresh off a 49-37 victory over Utah that made the Cougars bowl eligible, visits Husky Stadium on Friday for an Apple Cup with more postseason significance than any in the past decade.
That game should provide a little more drama than what happened in Corvallis on Saturday.