The No. 7 Huskies (10-1, 7-1 Pac-12), now tied with No. 20 Washington State atop the Pac-12 North standings, have a short turnaround before their trip to Pullman for the Apple Cup on Friday.

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And it all comes down to this: A Friday afternoon showdown in Pullman, two top 25 teams, the Pac-12 North title on the line — an Apple Cup as significant as any in the 109-year history of the in-state rivalry.

“I mean, what else do you want?” Washington quarterback Jake Browning asked.

Browning and the No. 7 Huskies did what they had to do to set up the epic Apple Cup, rebounding from their only defeat of the season to pummel Arizona State 44-18 Saturday night before 65,467 at Husky Stadium.

Washington (10-1, 7-1 Pac-12), in securing its first 10-win season since 2000, also kept its College Football Playoff chase on track.

Even with No. 20 Washington State (8-3, 7-1) losing at Colorado earlier Saturday, the winner of the Apple Cup on Friday will claim its first Pac-12 North title and advance to the Pac-12 championship game Dec. 2 in Santa Clara, Calif.

“We’ve got one game left,” Browning said, “and it has all the meaning in the world. Obviously, it’s a big game. They’re going to be ready, we’re going to be ready, and we’re going to go at ’em. That’s what you want.”

Browning bounced back from his worst game of the season in the defeat last week against USC and overcame two early interceptions against the Sun Devils (5-6, 2-6) to throw for 338 yards and two touchdowns. His 37 touchdown passes this season put in him a tie for seventh on the Pac-12 single-season record list.

Kevin King and the Huskies’ defense, meanwhile, shut down the Sun Devils in their first game without injured star linebacker Azeem Victor. The Huskies sacked ASU quarterback Manny Wilkins six times and held Arizona State to 15 yards rushing (on 27 attempts), the fewest for an opponent since Arizona had minus-7 in 2006.

“This,” Arizona State coach Todd Graham said, “was the best team in the league that we’ve played to this point, no doubt.”

King’s sensational one-handed interception in the end zone changed the complexion of the game early in the second quarter. It came three plays after the Sun Devils’ Koron Crump had his interception return for a touchdown negated by a penalty for a block in the back at the Washington 3-yard line. For a moment, it appeared ASU would take 7-3 lead.

Instead, the penalty pushed ASU back to the UW 13-yard line — and then King turned the momentum dramatically.

“That was kind of the saving grace,” UW coach Chris Petersen said.

Two plays after that, Browning threw a short pass to Chico McClatcher, who turned it into a 75-yard touchdown to give the Huskies a 10-0 lead with 13:08 left in the second quarter. It was the longest play from scrimmage of the season for the Huskies, who gained 539 yards of offense.

The Huskies were never threatened after that, building a 24-0 lead by halftime and a 30-0 lead midway through the third quarter.

A key question for the Huskies — without Victor and without their best pass rusher, Joe Mathis, both out for the season — coming into these final two weeks of the regular season was: What would they do to get more pressure on the quarterback? The answer: bring blitzes, an atypical approach for co-defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski.

“They let us loose today,” defensive tackle Elijah Qualls said. “All year we’ve been scared of quarterbacks hurting us with their feet. Today, they literally said: ‘Go get him.’”

Budda Baker was in on two sacks from safety blitzes in the first quarter — after posting just 1½  sacks in the first 36 games of his UW career — and reserve linebacker Tevis Bartlett had two.

Afterward, Browning was frustrated at his sluggish first quarter against an Arizona State team that will almost certainly go down as the worst passing defense in conference history. But he was on point in the second and third quarters, completing 15 consecutive throws during one stretch, and his 46-yard second-quarter touchdown to Dante Pettis was a beautiful pass.

Lavon Coleman added a 1-yard touchdown run with 16 seconds left in the half to give UW a 24-0 lead, and Myles Gaskin finished with 127 yards rushing on 16 carries, including 45-yard fourth-quarter touchdown.

Senior Cameron Van Winkle, in his final game at Husky Stadium, converted all three of his field-goal attempts, from 30, 22 and 24 yards, and linebacker Keishawn Bierria returned an onside kick 45 yards for the final score.

All in all, a rather complete performance for the Huskies, which sets the stage for an Apple Cup that ought to have local sports fans completely riveted this week.

“Everybody knows it’s a big game, regardless of what the records are,” Petersen said. “We’ve got two really good teams with good records and a lot to play for. Now it’s like what everybody had hoped it would be.”

How will it look Tuesday?
Five of the top six teams in the College Football Playoff rankings won Saturday:
Team Result
1. Alabama (11-0) Beat Chattanooga, 31-3
2. Ohio State (10-1) Beat Michigan St., 17-16
3. Michigan (10-1) Beat Indiana, 20-10
4. Clemson (10-1) Beat Wake Forest, 35-13
5. Louisville (9-2) Lost to Houston, 36-10
6. Washington (10-1) Beat Arizona St. 44-18
Resuscitating the running game
After struggling to run the ball against USC, the Huskies had much more success Saturday against Arizona State. A look at the teams’ rushing the past two games:
Saturday
Team Att. Yds Avg.
UW 33 201 6.1
ASU 27 15 0.6
Nov. 12
UW 27 17 0.6
USC 36 113 3.1