Twitter speculation began about the same time as Washington’s expected rout of Oregon State.
Utah was in the process of completing its wild victory over UCLA on Saturday afternoon — a win that gave the 19th-ranked Utes a 7-1 record heading into next weekend’s showdown with the fifth-ranked Huskies in Salt Lake City — when ESPN “College GameDay” producer Lee Fitting decided to throw Utah fans a bone.
Fitting tweeted, in part: “Keepin’ a close eye on @Utah_Football right now. @CollegeGameDay implications on the line.”
“GameDay” made it official a few hours later, announcing that Utah will host the Saturday morning preview show next weekend. And that should make for quite the atmosphere. The Utes have the second-best record in the Pac-12 behind the unbeaten Huskies, and will certainly pack Rice-Eccles Stadium for what should be one of the weekend’s premier matchups. A “GameDay” appearance will only enhance the spectacle.
“It’d be a lot better if it was at home, but it would still be pretty exciting to be in that atmosphere,” UW receiver Dante Pettis said. “I know they have a pretty good stadium and everything. We haven’t played there yet, but I’ve heard it gets pretty crazy there, so that’ll definitely be fun.”
More fun than Saturday’s yawner against the Beavers, anyway.
Washington scored two touchdowns before the Beavers achieved a first down, Jake Browning threw for three touchdown passes and ran for another, Myles Gaskin cracked the 100-yard rushing mark again, and the Huskies shoved the woebegone Beavers aside in a 41-17 blowout before 65,796 at Husky Stadium.
The Huskies improved to 7-0 and 4-0 in Pac-12 play, maintaining their stride toward a perfect regular season and a potential College Football Playoff appearance. They’ve won 10 consecutive games dating to last season, tied with Western Michigan for the nation’s second-longest current winning streak.
And while few will be impressed by any victory over Oregon State (2-5, 1-3 Pac-12) — the Huskies were favored to win by 37 points — there is at least something to appreciate about the way UW continues to throttle inferior opponents.
“I know as we head down the stretch here, it’s not going to always be like this with the teams we have coming,” UW coach Chris Petersen said. “That’ll be something we talk about and work on. That’ll be a new challenge for us.”
That is true. It took fewer than two minutes for the Huskies to score their first touchdown, a 19-yard pass from Browning to freshman receiver Aaron Fuller — two plays after Browning completed a flea-flicker pass for a 51-yard gain to John Ross.
UW’s defense, playing without injured outside linebacker Joe Mathis, forced a quick three-and-out, and after another long completion from Browning to Ross — this one for 44 yards on the first play of the drive — Browning scored on a 1-yard rush to give the Huskies a 14-0 lead with 10:35 remaining in the first quarter.
Browning threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Pettis later in the quarter. He threw a 41-yard scoring pass to Pettis in the third quarter. In between, Gaskin found enough creases to total 128 yards rushing on 18 carries, including a 9-yard touchdown run that gave the Huskies a 28-0 lead in the second quarter.
Ross finished with four catches for 115 yards. Pettis had four receptions for 112 yards.
It was 31-0 at halftime, though the Beavers scored twice in the third quarter — first on Garrett Owens’ 25-yard field goal, then on a 75-yard touchdown run by receiver Victor Bolden up the right sideline.
Browning, the national leader in completion percentage, didn’t have his best game in that regard — he completed 14 of his 28 pass attempts — but threw for 291 yards and has 26 touchdown passes this season against two interceptions.
“I had a couple that I want back,” Browning said, “but I mean, you’re never going to play a perfect game. So, go to practice this week and work on those to get ready for Utah.”
The Huskies didn’t quite dominate defensively, allowing Oregon State tailback Tim Cook to rush for 108 yards on 18 carries. But they mostly stifled OSU’s nation-worst passing offense, holding third-string quarterback Marcus McMaryion to 56 passing yards in the first half. He finished with 148 yards on 12-of-26 passing with two interceptions, including the first of redshirt freshman cornerback Austin Joyner’s career.
“For us, as a defense, we would love for them to not get any points,” UW junior safety Budda Baker said. “But they have players, too, and they are going to make plays.”
Just not nearly as many as the Huskies, who must prepare for a far more capable foe.
“We haven’t looked at (Utah) too much, but I caught one of their games earlier this season,” Gaskin said. “They’re a good team. Well-coached. It should be a good matchup, and it’ll be fun.”