With 75 percent of the regular season complete, there's becoming a pretty clear definition to Washington's record — 6-0 against unranked...
With 75 percent of the regular season complete, there’s becoming a pretty clear definition to Washington’s record — 6-0 against unranked teams, 0-3 against ranked teams.
Saturday’s game against Oregon, the final contest in Husky Stadium before it undergoes a $250 million renovation, stood as another chance for UW to show it belongs among the college football elite.
Instead, a 34-17 defeat to the No. 6 Ducks showed the Huskies still have work to do.
Washington lost earlier this year at No. 11 Nebraska 51-38 and at No. 6 Stanford 65-21 — a combined 150-76 for the three games.
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Washington has been outgained an average of 486-376 in the three losses and a glaring 322-133 on the ground.
The fact the Huskies allowed six sacks and rushed for just a net of 82 yards Saturday seemed most perplexing to coach Steve Sarkisian.
“I don’t know if this was the best defensive line we’ve seen all year,” he said of the Ducks. “I think for whatever reason we didn’t play great. And this is the second time now in a few weeks where we have gone up against two pretty good opponents in Stanford and Oregon that we haven’t performed well up front.”
Some may point to the youth of the offensive line, which has three starters in their second year — sophomores Colin Porter at guard and Erik Kohler at tackle and redshirt freshman Colin Tanigawa at guard. Oregon, though, also started two sophomores on its front four — tackles Taylor Hart and Wade Keliikipi.
“I’ve seen us play better,” Sarkisian said. “I know we can play better, and we expect to play better and they (the linemen) will tell you the same thing.”
The 17 points were a season low for UW and the 278 total yards the fewest since gaining 250 yards in the season-opening win against Eastern Washington.
A better-than-expected performance out of the defense was overshadowed by UW’s offensive struggles. Washington held an Oregon offense averaging 526 yards to 381, and Oregon’s points were its fewest other than a 40-27 loss to Louisiana State.
“I thought for what they’ve done (against other teams), our defense played a good football game,” Sarkisian said.
Still, Oregon moved the ball when it had to. The Ducks drove easily for a touchdown on their first possession to take a lead they would never relinquish, then had drives of 90 and 70 yards on their first two possessions of the third quarter to take control. After Oregon grabbed a 31-17 lead with just over six minutes left in the third quarter, UW got past the Ducks’ 47 once the rest of the game.
The Ducks have won eight in a row against UW, all by 17 points or more. Sarkisian thought his team was ready to not just finally make a real challenge at the Ducks, but also to send out Husky Stadium in fitting fashion.
“The building, the energy, the enthusiasm in the stadium and for the game to go the way that it did, (the players) are disappointed,” he said.
And the task doesn’t get much easier as the Huskies play at USC at 12:45 p.m. Saturday. Washington has beaten the Trojans the past two years, each on field goals in the final seconds, which figures to make a surging Trojan team only that much more motivated to give the Huskies a rude welcome.
The Trojans rose to No. 18 in the AP poll Sunday after a 42-17 win over Colorado on Friday that came on the heels of a triple-overtime loss to Stanford on Oct. 29.
Even taking out the overtime periods against Stanford, USC is averaging 37 points in its past five games, losing only to the Cardinal. Matt Barkley leads the Pac-12 in TD passes with 28.
“They throw the ball real well. They’ve got a couple wideouts that are really good football players,” said UW defensive coordinator Nick Holt. ” Matt Barkley is a heck of a quarterback, and then they run the ball just enough to keep you on your toes. But we’ll be OK against those guys. I’d rather play USC than Oregon.”
• Sarkisian said UW did not suffer any injuries that should endanger anyone’s playing time this week. Quarterback Keith Price left for one play with a shoulder injury but returned. Safety Justin Glenn got the wind knocked out of him on a tackle on a kickoff return that saved a touchdown. Defensive tackle Alameda Ta’amu had a thigh contusion but returned, and fullback Tim Tucker sprained an ankle but also returned.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com