No. 15 Washington’s quest for another Pac-12 North title took a hit on Saturday night.
The Huskies, a two-score favorite on the road at Stanford, had a lifeless performance in a 23-13 loss. It marked Washington’s second loss divisional loss of the year, and both came as double-digit favorites.
This time around, Stanford, loser of three of its last four games, put up points on its first three drives en route to a 13-7 lead. And had it not been for goal line stops on two of those possessions (both led to 20-yard field goals), the deficit for Washington would have been much worse.
Stanford’s lead was 13-10 at halftime. Washington had a chance to tie it with a short field goal coming out of the break, but Chris Petersen kept his offense on the field on fourth-and-two from the Stanford 13. Instead, Jacob Eason’s pass fell incomplete and Stanford maintained a lead it would never relinquish.
A four-yard rushing touchdown by Cameron Scarlett made it 20-10 Cardinal with 6:02 left in the third. Washington would tack on a field goal later in the third, but that was as close as UW would get.
Following an Eason interception, Stanford tacked on a field goal to make it 23-13 with 8:04 to play. Washington would touch the ball twice more, and those possessions culminated with a punt and the end of regulation.
What does this mean for Washington?
After the Week 2 loss to Cal, the Huskies won three straight over Hawaii, BYU and USC and looked pretty good in the process. During the winning streak, Washington looked like one of the Pac-12’s best. But the Huskies put forth a pretty miserable performance on Saturday night in a loss that put an end to any meager College Football Playoff dreams they may have still had.
This Stanford team has injuries across the board, especially on the offensive line. But the Cardinal — a week after barely beating Oregon State — were still able to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
Even with backup quarterback Davis Mills getting the start, Stanford really controlled the ball offensively, putting up 482 total yards, while Washington’s heralded rushing attack was limited to just 88 yards on 22 carries. And while the running game struggled, so did Eason. The Georgia transfer has shown flashes of what made him a five-star recruit who was able to start as a true freshman in the SEC. But those traits were not evident on Saturday. Eason completed only 16 of his 36 attempts for 206 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Though Washington’s loss puts No. 13 Oregon (4-1, 2-0) in the driver’s seat in the Pac-12 North, there’s still a long way to go. But UW’s next three games could be against ranked opponents. The Huskies head to Arizona next weekend and the Wildcats could move into the Top 25 after beating Colorado 35-30 in Boulder to improve to 4-1 on the year.
From there, Washington will host Oregon on Oct. 19. After a bye week, No. 17 Utah, arguably the best team in the Pac-12 South, will visit Seattle. With two conference losses, Washington doesn’t have much wiggle room if it wants to win the division for the third time in the last four seasons.
What does this mean for Stanford?
Well, a bowl game is still very possible. That did not seem like it was in the cards for David Shaw’s program when it was getting blown out in three consecutive weeks earlier in the season.
Now 3-3, Stanford is going to have to pull off another upset or two to get to a bowl, but it’s certainly possible even with so many linemen out for the season. However, Stanford finished the game without Mills, leaving third-string QB Jack West to control the huddle. If starter K.J. Costello and Mills are out for any considerable period of time, the program’s bowl streak — which dates back to 2009, Jim Harbaugh’s third season — could be in jeopardy.
The rest of the season looks like this: vs. UCLA, vs. Arizona, at Colorado, at Washington State, vs. Cal and vs. Notre Dame. Do you see three wins in there?
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