This was the kind of lopsided, healing result the University of Washington football team hoped for. Even if it was expected.
Three consecutive losses had the Huskies reeling. But a convincing 41-17 thumping of California before an announced crowd of 66,328 at Husky Stadium on Saturday night put an end to that skid, and UW put up some crooked statistics in the process.
"This was the type of performance I was hopeful that we could have," Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said. "As you guys have been around us, this was a week where it's been a tough three weeks."
The Bears’ defense entered the game with a bad reputation. It did not improve.
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Washington’s offense went stagnant for a period in the second quarter when it punted on four consecutive possessions. But the Huskies also racked up 373 yards of total offense before halftime, helped by a handful of big plays that pushed UW to a 24-7 lead at the break.
Washington (5-3, 2-3 Pac-12 Conference) finished with 642 yards of total offense, its second-most this season and tied for sixth-most of all-time. It’s also the third time this season the Huskies have eclipsed the 600-yard mark. That’s never happened before.
There was Keith Price’s 68-yard touchdown pass to Jaydon Mickens, a perfectly-thrown ball to a wide-open receiver that gave the Huskies a 17-0 lead. Price added a 47-yard touchdown pass to Mickens on a similar play on UW’s first possession of the second half, a score that gave UW a 31-7 lead and officially qualified this one as a rout.
Running back Bishop Sankey gashed the Bears for rushes of 42, 32, 22 and 59 yards in the first half alone, the latter a touchdown straight through the middle of Cal’s defense late in the first half.
Sankey surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the second consecutive season, becoming the fourth player in school history to rush for that many yards in two different years.
"I was kicking myself after last week's game that he only had 13 carries, that we didn’t give him enough opportunities," Sarkisian said. "Because when he gets his opportunities he's so consistent that when the defense is wrong, he makes them pay. That was obviously evident tonight."
Sankey finished with a career-best 241 yards on 27 carries, the third time in his career he’s rushed for 200 yards or more. His 241 yards were the eighth-most in a game in school history, and he now has 1,162 yards rushing through eight games this season.
There was some bad news for UW. Early in the second quarter, junior receiver Kasen Williams suffered an injury while trying to catch an under-thrown pass from Price.
Williams was taken to Harborview Medical Center, but had already returned home by the time Sarkisian addressed the media.
"We know there's a break and a dislocation in his foot," Sarkisian said. "So he’s going to be out quite some time. Obviously our thoughts and prayers are with Kasen. He's a great kid. He's already home. I know the guys are all headed over there to see him."
One player bothered by injury recently who looked just fine on Saturday was Price. One week after being removed from a 53-24 loss to Arizona State due to a swollen thumb on his throwing hand, the senior quarterback had little problem dissecting a California defense missing several injured starters.
Price completed his first six passes, and though he struggled to connect with receivers during a second-quarter lull, he finished with 20 completions on 32 attempts for 376 yards, two touchdowns, and a 1-yard rushing touchdown. The yardage total was the second-highest of Price’s career, and ninth-most in UW history.
Mickens benefited the most from Cal’s shoddy coverage, catching six passes for a career-best 180 yards. In addition to his two touchdown catches, he also caught a 39-yard pass from Price on 3rd-and-9 that set up a UW touchdown in the third quarter.
California (1-7, 0-5) had nine possessions in the first half, and punted on eight of them. Freshman quarterback Jared Goff threw the ball 54 times and finished with 336 passing yards, but Cal’s offense converted only 7 of 21 third-down attempts and never threatened to make this one any closer than it ended.