Jake Browning accounted for eight total touchdowns and the No. 5 Huskies ended 12 years of futility against Washington’s most bitter rival in emphatic fashion Saturday.
EUGENE, Ore. — They didn’t run onto the field in raucous bewilderment. They didn’t dance on the “O” or climb into the stands or march with the band.
The No. 5 Huskies celebrated their monumental 70-21 demolition of the once-mighty Oregon Ducks as if it was any other game.
As if they expected this.
As if they expect to do it again.
Washington’s blasted 12-year losing streak to Oregon is over. The curse is over. Thoroughly, completely over … in the way Washington completely, thoroughly owned this night before a sellout crowd of 58,842 at Autzen Stadium that witnessed the most points scored on the home team here in 75 years.
“I’d have to look down to see Cloud Nine,” UW offensive lineman Kaleb McGary said. “This was personal — a lot more than just player to player, program to program.
“This was for UW. This was incredible. This was absolutely incredible.”
The Huskies were happy. Of course they were. They went to the southwest corner of the stadium, greeted there by a sea of purple-clad fans, and sang the school fight song with those fans and the UW band.
But that’s what they do after every game, win or lose. And in keeping with Chris Petersen’s understated style, the Huskies rarely bark or boast, not even on a night as significant as this.
They’re in the nation’s top five, in the thick of the College Football Playoff chase at the season’s midpoint and they have discovered a Heisman candidate in Jake Browning — who had eight (8!) total touchdowns in his first game in Eugene. But the Huskies don’t want to talk much about any of that.
“We don’t really focus on the past,” receiver Dante Pettis said when asked about ending that 12-year streak. “We try to focus on the present.
“But,” he added, “I know there’s a lot of people back home who really, really wanted this, so it feels good.”
This night marked the meteoric return of one erstwhile Northwest power, and it furthered the rapid decline of this decade’s giant.
Eight days earlier, in their 44-6 thumping at Husky Stadium, the Huskies beat up Stanford in the way Stanford had been beating up everyone over the past handful of years.
On Saturday, in their stunning display of speed and skill, the Huskies raced past and around Oregon in the way Oregon raced past and around everyone else for most of the last decade.
Browning delivered another magnificent performance, throwing a school-record six touchdown passes and rushing for two more for the Huskies (6-0, 3-0 Pac-12), whose 70 points are the most UW has ever scored in 109 meetings between the two schools. Only once has an opponent scored more than 70 against Oregon in Eugene (when Texas scored 71 in 1941).
“It’s big for our seniors just to be able to make their last game against Oregon a win,” because you always remember the last one,” Browning said. “I thought that was pretty cool.”
John Ross III had three touchdown catches and Dante Pettis added two, including an in incredible one-handed grab while being held by an Oregon defender in the right corner of the end zone.
UW sophomore running back Myles Gaskin added a career-high 197 yards and one touchdown, helping the Huskies build a 35-7 halftime lead.
Oregon (2-4, 0-3 Pac-12) has lost four in a row for the first time since 2006. The Ducks, looking for a spark, had turned to true freshman quarterback Justin Herbert for his first career start. The results were largely predictable against the Pac-12 top-ranked defense.
UW star safety Budda Baker ripped the ball away from a receiver to intercept Herbert on the game’s first play from scrimmage, and the Ducks never had a chance after that.
Over the previous 12 meetings, Washington had led for a total of 8 minutes, 11 seconds against Oregon. The Huskies took the lead after 97 seconds Saturday and never trailed. Turnaround complete.
Petersen and Browning both took on an apologetic tone about the blowout afterward.
Browning said he was embarrassed that he drew a taunting penalty for pointing at an Oregon linebacker while scoring the game’s first touchdown on a QB sneak, and Petersen said he felt bad for putting up 70 on his good friend, Oregon coach Mark Helfrich.
“I didn’t want that,” Petersen said.
After these past two weeks, after their return to national prominence, the Huskies will get the kind of attention they don’t want either.