Jake Browning: “I’m not throwing in the towel by any means. ... I’m going to prepare harder than I’ve ever prepared to play ASU and I’m going to bounce back.”
The Huskies, we now know, aren’t perfect.
As we learned over the weekend, almost no one in college football is.
Michigan, Clemson and Washington — ranked No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, in The Associated Press poll last week — all lost Saturday, the first time that’s happened on the same day since 1985.
No. 1 Alabama (10-0) is the only major-college program still undefeated, and the national playoff picture now appears as fuzzy as ever.
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“Stuff happens, right?” UW defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski said after the Huskies’ 26-13 loss to USC at home. “Hey, you can’t win every frickin’ game. I’m trying to bite my tongue here … but it’s a new day, and we’ve got to learn from this.”
The Huskies (9-1, 6-1 Pac-12), who dropped to No. 7 in the AP poll Sunday, will play their final home game of the season Saturday against Arizona State (5-5, 2-5), which has lost four in a row. Kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m. at Husky Stadium for a FOX national broadcast.
Six days later, the Huskies travel to Pullman for the Apple Cup against No. 20 Washington State on the day after Thanksgiving.
Win those last two regular-season games and the Huskies will play in the Pac-12 championship game on Dec. 2. Win the Pac-12 championship, and the Huskies would do no worse than the Rose Bowl.
A berth to the College Football Playoff is still on the table, but the Huskies will have to be better — much better — than they were in all phases against the Trojans, who jumped to No. 15 in the AP poll Sunday.
Sophomore quarterback Jake Browning looked mortal for the first time all season, completing 17-of-36 passes for 259 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He was sacked three times, and USC held the Huskies to a net gain of 17 yards rushing on 27 attempts.
“We’re not going to beat anybody scoring 13 points — I don’t care how good our defense is playing,” Browning said.
“I’m not throwing in the towel by any means,” he added. “When your backs against the wall, you just came off a loss, you’ve got to bounce back. That’s going to start with me. I’m going to prepare harder than I’ve ever prepared to play ASU and I’m going to bounce back.”
The loss to USC snapped UW’s 12-game winning streak. Before Saturday night, the Huskies’ last loss was to Arizona State in Tempe on Nov. 14, 2015.
“We don’t even really talk about a win streak,” UW coach Chris Petersen said. “We’ll try to start a new one next week. Try to be 1-0. That’s the win streak that we need to pay attention to. If guys are looking down the horizon, you’re going to get hit right between the eyes. There’s too many good players and coaches in this league.”
NOTE: There was no immediate update Sunday on star linebacker Azeem Victor, who was carted off the field in the second quarter Saturday night with an injury to his lower right leg. After the game, Petersen said he was “assuming” it was a significant injury.