Washington (6-6, 4-5) was too much to handle for No. 20 Washington State (8-4, 6-3) in the Huskies third straight victory in the Apple Cup as the Cougars turned the ball over seven times. Redshirt freshmen Peyton Bender struggled in the hostile environment of Husky Stadium, progressing through his reads, and making good decisions as the game started to get out of hand.
The game was really over following Sidney Jones pick-six in the third quarter that put the Huskies up by 21. Bender tried to hit Robert Lewis on a deep curl route, but Jones read the quarterback’s eyes and jumped in front of the pass with no one between him and the end zone. It was a monumentally deflating play that put the Cougar offense on its heals.
Washington State’s offense was never really able to put together a solid drive after the interception return, while the Huskies continued to march down the field on a gassed WSU defense.
Myles Gaskin had himself a nice day on the ground as he carried the ball 13 times for 148 yards (4.3) yards per carry, a lot of those yards came off of rushes around the outside in the second half. Washington offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith continued to pick at the outside edges on the ground, despite the Cougars success at stopping those runs early in the game. It ended up being a successful strategy as WSU’s defense was left on the field for nearly 38 minutes of the game.
Washington State’s defense works at it’s best when the offense is scoring points; it’s job is simple, force a turnover and get the offense the ball with a short field in front of them…kind of like a full court defense in basketball. The idea is to force the opposition into a mistake that will lead to a quick score to open up the lead; as a result, the defense is going to bring pressure, make big plays, and give-up some big ones as well.
Unfortunately for the Cougs, the defense gave-up big play after big play…while hardly making any big plays of their own. Husky quarterback Jake Browning routinely found wideouts wide open 15+ yards down field on blitzes that didn’t quiet get to the quarterback in time. It was a fantastic performance for the true freshmen quarterback that saw him lead his team to its second victory over a top 25 foe this season…and to a bowl game.
Washington State fans did get to see it’s secondary make one huge play in the second half as Marcellus Pippins picked off a Browning pass and returned it 66-yards to the Washington 20.
Bender found Dom Williams wide open in the end zone four plays later for WSU’s only score of the game.
The win gives Washington its sixth win of the season, guaranteeing the program it’s fourth straight bowl game. For Washington State, it snaps a three game winning streak and puts an end to any hopes it had of avoiding a bowl game on the day after Christmas.
Both squads find out their bowl game destinations, and match-ups, on December 7th.