From the moment Dante Pettis fielded his first punt return, the momentum shifted, and the Huskies went on to blow out their rivals from the south for the second straight year.
Washington came into the weekend leading the nation in rushing defense, allowing just 2.18 yards per carry. The Huskies got a wakeup call on Oregon’s first drive, in which the Ducks held onto the ball for nearly eight minutes while driving 62 yards on 15 plays. But the Ducks had to settle for a field goal for a 3-0 lead, and they didn’t do much of anything after that — the Huskies would score 38 unanswered points. UW’s defense again proved itself as the best in the Pac-12 and — how about this — the Huskies have a two-game winning streak over their most heated rival.
No. 12 Washington wasn’t just playing Oregon on Saturday night. If the Huskies are going to climb back into the College Football Playoff conversation, then they’ll need more blowout victories like their 38-3 dismantling of the Ducks. No. 6 Ohio State and No. 7 Penn State lost, which should push UW into the top 10 when the next CFP rankings are revealed Tuesday. Washington’s offense was more balanced than it had been in the previous two outings thanks in large part to quarterback Jake Browning who finished with 204 yards on 11-for-19 passing, two touchdowns and an interception.
No question about the turning point in this one: Dante Pettis’ 64-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter. That gave him the NCAA record with nine, broke a 3-3 tie and lit a fire under the Huskies, who played with visible energy from that point forward. Pettis, who earlier this week celebrated his dad’s World Series ring as Astros’ third-base coach, also hauled in a 47-yard touchdown pass from Jake Browning to start Washington’s second-half scoring barrage.