Final (OT): UW Huskies 31, California 24

6:30 p.m. | Husky Stadium | Seattle

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Huskies 31, California 24 (OT)

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UW Huskies overcome significant absences and disappearing offense to top Cal in overtime

The missing didn’t matter.

At least, for a half.

Arguably UW’s two top players, cornerback Trent McDuffie and tight end Cade Otton, didn’t play in the Huskies’ Pac-12 opener against Cal on Saturday night. McDuffie’s absence was unsurprising, after the 195-pound sophomore left last weekend’s 52-3 win over Arkansas State with an apparent ankle injury. As for Otton, a UW spokesperson confirmed he’s currently in the program’s COVID protocol (but declined to divulge further details).

Together, the two had played in a combined 54 consecutive games.

That streak is over.

The Huskies replaced it with a winning streak, topping Cal 31-24 in overtime — after managing just three measly points in the third and fourth quarters.

Read more here.

—Mike Vorel
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Instant analysis: Three impressions from UW’s narrow OT win over Cal

Why does it have to be so hard?

After a first half in which Dylan Morris carried the offense and Washington looked on its way to a fairly easy Pac-12-opening victory, the Huskies stalled out but survived by forcing a Cal fumble at the goal-line in overtime.

UW managed a field goal and little else in the final 30 minutes as Cal outscored the Huskies 14-3 to send the game to overtime. The Huskies eventually hung on to win 31-24, but it was far from easy.

Here are three instant impressions.

—Chris Talbott

UW recovers fumble, wins in OT

Fumble! UW comes up with a fumble on first-and-2 at its 2-yard line to win the game.

Huskies, Sean McGrew scores first in OT

The scoring play: Sean McGrew takes a direct snap from 2 yards out.

The drive: Six plays, 25 yards

The score: Huskies 31, Cal 24 | OT

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UW will have ball first in OT

Cal wins the coin toss and defers. UW will have the ball first in OT.

Huskies heading to overtime after Cal misses game-winning field goal

The drive: Six plays, 43 yards, 1:16.

The story: Cal seemed fine with going to overtime, but ended up moving to the UW 37. Dario Longhetto's field goal from 55 yards out was short.

Time left: Overtime.

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UW goes three-and-out again to give ball back to Cal late

The drive: Three plays, 8 yards, 1:29.

The story: Another three-and-out for UW. Cal's going to get it back with a chance to win this one.

Next possession: Cal starts at its 20.

Time left: 1:22 in 4Q.

Chase Garbers ties it up with a 7-yard TD rush

The scoring play: Cal QB Chase Garbers rushes 7 yards for the game-tying touchdown.

The drive: Nine plays, 62 yards, 3:32.

The score: Huskies 24, Cal 24; 2:51 4Q.

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UW offense goes three-and-out after just over a minute

The drive: Three plays, 4 yards, 1:07.

The takeaway: After the Huskies' defense came up with a stop, a three-and-out by the UW offense gives Cal the ball right back after taking just over a minute off the game clock. Not what you're looking for in that situation.

Next possession: Cal starts at its 38.

Time left: 6:23 in 4Q.

UW defense holds, forces punt back to offense

The drive: Six plays, 25 yards, 2:14.

The takeaway: Chase Garbers and Cal came up a drive-saving 23-yard pass on third-and-long, and then threw two straight incompletions and couldn't get any closer to the end zone. One of those misses could have been a touchdown to Kekoa Crawford with the right pass, but a solid hold by the UW defense, regardless.

Next possession: UW ball at its 8.

Time left: 7:30 in 4Q.

UW's Peyton Henry misses 47-yard FG attempt

The drive: Five plays, 30 yards, 1:30.

The takeaway: What started well with a 25-yard pass to Rome Odunze didn't advance much farther than that — and ended with a missed 47-yard field goal by Peyton Henry. Cal's still alive here.

Next possession: Cal starts at own 29.

Time left: 9:44 in 4Q.

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UW defense comes up with fourth-down stop

The drive: Six plays, 20 yards, 3:32.

The takeaway: Kyler Gordon, again. The UW cornerback came up with a big tackle on Cal's fourth-down attempt at the UW 42.

Next possession: Huskies start at their 41.

Time left: 11:14 in 4Q.

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Kamari Pleasant fumbles ball right back to Cal

The drive: Four plays, 12 yards, 1:45.

The takeaway: A drive that began off a clutch interception from Kyler Gordon ends on an ill-timed turnover right back, this one a fumble by Kamari Pleasant.

Next possession: Cal starts at the 50.

Time left: 14:46 in 4Q.

Third-quarter observations

Where would Washington be without Kyler Gordon?

With standout cornerback Trent McDuffie missing the first game of his career with an apparent ankle injury, Gordon – UW’s starter on the opposite side – snagged the first two interceptions of his career on Saturday. The first, on Cal’s third play from scrimmage, led to a 19-yard Dylan Morris touchdown pass to wide receiver Taj Davis. The second came late in the third quarter, with Cal driving down just 24-17.

Oh, and just for good measure, Gordon is leading the Huskies with seven tackles as well.

—Mike Vorel

End of third: UW 24, Cal 17

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Kyler Gordon comes up with second INT of the game

The drive: Three plays, 7 yards, 1:26.

The takeaway: Another Kyler Gordon takeaway! On third-and-3 at the Cal 27, Gordon picked Chase Garbers for the second time tonight.

Next possession: UW ball at its 49.

Time left: 1:31 in 3Q.

The highlight:

UW offense punts ball right back to Cal

The drive: Four plays, 8 yards, 2:12.

The takeaway: Highlighted by a Dylan Morris fumble that he recovered on his own, this was not a good response to the Cal TD for the UW offense.

Next possession: Cal ball at its 20.

Time left: 2:57 in 3Q.

Cal responds with easy TD to cut deficit in half

The scoring play: Cal QB Chase Garbers hit Damien Moore on a dump-off pass that he takes along the sideline for a 26-yard touchdown.

The drive: Five plays, 75 yards, 2:25.

Key(s) to the drive: Brendan Radley-Hiles appeared to have an interception of Chase Garbers, but UW was called for a holding penalty. There was also that apparent push-off on the first play, a 32-yard pass, of the drive ...

The score: Huskies 24, Cal 17; 5:09 3Q.

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Holding penalty kills drive, but UW hits FG to extend lead

The scoring play: Peyton Henry hit a 32-yard field goal.

The drive: 13 plays, 46 yards, 5:56.

Key(s) to the drive: Not a good key, but after Devin Culp left with an injury, Mark Redman — his replacement — was immediately hit with a holding penalty that essentially killed UW's strong drive up to that point.

The score: Huskies 24, Cal 10; 7:34 3Q.

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Devin Culp down after catch

UW forces three-and-out to open second half

The drive: Three plays, -4 yards, 1:30.

The takeaway: After allowing a quick Cal FG drive right before the half, this was a huge three-and-out for UW to open the third quarter.

Next possession: UW starts at its 40.

Time left: 13:30 in 3Q.

Halftime observations

Cade Otton played in 34 consecutive games before missing Saturday’s game against Cal due to COVID protocols.

In the first half, at least, the Huskies didn’t miss him.

Dylan Morris threw touchdown passes to wide receivers Taj Davis and Jalen McMillan, and sophomore tight end Devin Culp exploded for the finest half of his career. Making his first start of the season, UW running back Sean McGrew took a direct snap for a 5-yard score as well.

While compiling two sacks and a Kyler Gordon interception, UW’s defense struggled at times – and the Golden Bears get the ball to start the second half. We’ll see if the Huskies can get off the field and maintain momentum.

—Mike Vorel
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Cal cuts into UW's lead with FG to end the half

The scoring play: Cal kicker Dario Longhetto hits a 39-yard field goal.

The drive: 10 plays, 64 yards, 1:27.

The score: Huskies 21, Cal 10 at halftime.

Sean McGrew takes a direct snap in for another UW TD

The scoring play: Sean McGrew takes a direct snap in for a 5-yard TD.

The drive: 10 plays, 66 yards, 5:39.

The score: Huskies 21, Cal 7; 1:27 2Q.

The highlight:

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Cal drives to red zone — and falls apart to come away with nothing

The drive: 12 plays, 46 yards, 7:08

The takeaway: The Golden Bears utilized a number of chunk plays en route to the red zone — and then fall apart from there. A sack and a TFL were compounded by a personal foul and a botched field-goal attempt. Yikes.

Next possession: UW starts at its own 29.

Time left: 7:06 in 2Q.

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Dylan Morris hits Jalen McMillan for a 6-yard TD and a UW lead

The scoring play: UW QB Dylan Morris hits WR Jalen McMillan for a 6-yard pass on the play action.

The drive: Six plays, 75 yards, 2:38.

Key(s) to the drive: Five of the plays on that UW drive were completed passes by Morris for an average of 14.2 yards. Once in the red zone, a Sean McGrew rush perfectly set up the play action for the TD.

The score: Huskies 14, Cal 7; 14:14 2Q.

The highlight:

First-quarter observations

UW’s offense is cooking.

Yes, the same offense that struggled mightily against Montana and Michigan. It helps, of course, that wide receivers Terrell Bynum, Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan are all available for the first time this season – and Taj Davis recorded a 19-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter as well. In place of standout tight end Cade Otton, who is out due to COVID protocols, sophomore Devin Culp has stepped in with two catches for 35 yards in the first quarter.

On the other side, with cornerback Trent McDuffie out with an injury, Kyler Gordon nabbed the first interception of his career on Cal’s opening drive. But Cal answered with a 13-play, 67-yard touchdown drive. To this point, Cal running back Damien Moore is averaging 5.8 yards per carry. That’s something to monitor as the game goes on.

—Mike Vorel

End of first: UW 7, Cal 7

Cal completes two fourth-down conversions to answer with TD drive

The scoring play: Chase Garbers completed a 1-yard TD pass to a wide-open Jake Tonges on fourth-and-1 at the UW 1.

The drive: 13 plays, 67 yards, 6:32

Key(s) to the drive: Cal was hindered by two false-start penalties on this drive, but two fourth-down conversions, including on the touchdown, were crucial for the Golden Bears' response to UW's touchdown.

The score: Huskies 7, Cal 7; 1:59 1Q.

The highlight:

UW opens scoring with Morris-to-Davis TD

The scoring play: Dylan Morris tosses a 19-yard TD pass to Taj Davis.

The drive: Seven plays, 26 yards, 3:28

The key: UW passed up a field goal on fourth-and-2 at Cal's 28, instead completing an 8-yard pass to keep this touchdown drive alive.

The score: Huskies 7, Cal 0

The highlight:

Kyler Gordon comes up with INT on Cal's first drive

The drive: Three plays, 1 yard, 1:27.

The takeaway: Literally a takeaway! UW's defense starts with an 8-yard sack by Ryan Bowman and wraps the drive with Kyler Gordon's first career interception.

Next possession: UW starts at Cal's 36.

Time left: 12:06

The highlight:

UW offense goes three-and-out for third straight game

The drive: Three plays, 6 yards.

The takeaway: UW rushes Sean McGrew twice, but goes three-and-out to open the game.

Next possession: Cal starts at own 32.

Time left: 13:33 in 1Q.

UW: Tight end Cade Otton in COVID protocol

Ededuan Ulofoshio starting at ILB after limited Week 3

Sean McGrew starting at tailback

McDuffie not starting at right CB, Otton not starting at TE

Star TE Cade Otton not warming up yet

UW WR Rome Odunze warming up

After struggling against Michigan, UW Huskies must prove they can stop the run

The Huskies better find their big boy pads.

In their past eight losses, dating back to 2019, Jimmy Lake’s run defense has disappointed at an uncomfortably consistent rate.

In six of those eight losses, UW surrendered at least 150 rushing yards and 4 yards per carry — with an opposing rusher entering the end zone all eight times. And it’s no coincidence that they’ve struggled most consistently against physically formidable pro-style attacks — like California, and Stanford, and Michigan.

So it should come as little surprise that, after his offense torched UW for 343 rushing yards and four scores in a 31-10 win on Sept. 11, Michigan left tackle Ryan Hayes told local media that “we knew going into this game we were going to run the ball as much as we could, because we knew they couldn’t really stop it.”

Likewise, Cal — which heads to Husky Stadium for its Pac-12 opener on Saturday — currently ranks 10th in the country in yards per carry (6.1).

The Golden Bears are going to run the ball as much as they can.

Can the Huskies — finally — stop it?

Read more here.

—Mike Vorel

What to watch for in Washington’s Pac-12 opener against Cal, plus Mike Vorel’s prediction

Stopping the run

Washington knew Michigan wanted to run the ball, and the Huskies still couldn’t stop it. In a 31-10 loss on Sept. 11, they surrendered a whopping 343 rushing yards with 6.1 yards per carry and four rushing scores. The Wolverines were forced to attempt just 15 passes in an overwhelming win. Likewise, Washington knows Cal would like to run the ball. The Golden Bears rank 10th in the country in yards per carry (6.11), and much like UW, they pride themselves on playing a physical brand of football. In Cal’s 20-19 upset win at Washington in 2019, the Bears racked up 192 rushing yards and two rushing scores, on 5.1 yards per carry. Will UW’s defensive front seven be up to the task on Saturday? Only time will tell.

Here's what to watch for when UW opens up Pac-12 play against Cal on Saturday night.

—Mike Vorel

UW’s Jalen McMillan announced his arrival (again) against Arkansas State. Now? ‘He’s going to do some amazing things.’

Last weekend, the Jalen McMillan Experience was on full display.

And his mother was 900 miles away.

This is not a new occurrence. On Sept. 1, 2017, McMillan — now a second-year wide receiver at Washington — was a skinny sophomore on the San Joaquin Memorial varsity football team. At halftime of a home game against Lemoore High School, his parents left to take McMillan’s 5-year-old sister home.

At which point, he announced his arrival.

“So his dad drives us home and tries to make it back for the third quarter,” his mother, Belinda McMillan-Haener, told The Times on Tuesday. “We’re getting texts from friends: ‘Oh, my God, he just caught another one!’ He had six touchdowns that game, and we witnessed one of them.”

Besides the six scores, McMillan’s parents missed a virtuosic performance that included 12 catches for 369 receiving yards — an unexpected eruption.

Read more here.

—Mike Vorel

How Brendan Radley-Hiles found a second home in the middle of UW’s defense

Forty-four has to show up.

Brendan “Bookie” Radley-Hiles did just that at Bishop Gorman High School, then IMG Academy, then as a three-year starter for the Oklahoma Sooners — where he produced 115 tackles, 14 passes defended, nine tackles for loss and three interceptions in 35 career games (and 32 starts).

In March, the 5-foot-9, 180-pound defensive back arrived in Seattle as a graduate transfer with two seasons of eligibility, a playoff pedigree — and plenty still to prove.

“To be completely honest with you, I have to earn my right to speak,” Radley-Hiles said after Washington’s 52-3 win over Arkansas State. “I’m not a person who’s going to come in here and act like I know things in this defense more than this team.

“So to be fully honest with you, my first week or two weeks here, I didn’t want to say too much. I wanted to find my role on this team and rise to the occasion. Younger guys, they would come and ask me questions about things, and I would have one-on-one talks. But as far as over-speaking and things of that nature, no. I had to grow into that role.”

Read more here.

—Mike Vorel

Have the UW Huskies’ offensive-line issues been resolved? We’ll find out in the Pac-12 opener vs. Cal

If there was one unit the Huskies could rely on, if there was one group fans knew would deliver, if there was one component to this Washington football team that seemed indestructible, it was the offensive line. 

Before the season began, Athlon Sports ranked UW’s O-line as the fifth-best in the country. It likely noted that all five starters from the previous season were returning, that they allowed just one sack last year, and that they weighed over 1,600 pounds collectively. This group was going to protect quarterback Dylan Morris and clear the way for what was considered to be one of the deepest running-back rooms in Huskies history.

But instead of flattening defenders in the first two games of the season, UW’s O-line just fell flat.

Read more here.

—Matt Calkins