Washington is not going back to the College Football Playoff. We know this for certain after it lost 30-22 on Friday at Stanford. The Huskies still have a chance to win the Pac-12 North Division, but they will have to play much better than they did against the Cardinal for that to be possible.
Here is how Washington graded out in Palo Alto, Calif.:
Myles Gaskin ran for 120 yards and 3 touchdowns, tying Bishop Sankey for the Washington career mark of 37 TDs. But he had only 18 carries, including 7 in the second half as the Huskies gained 91 of their 325 yards after halftime.
One of Gaskin’s last touches was a game-changer. He lost a fumble at the Huskies’ 30-yard line early in the fourth quarter. Stanford capitalized, kicking a field goal to go up by 9 points.
Jake Browning began 9 of 9 for 120 yards and finished 17-of-23 passing for 190 yards, but his decision-making once Washington fell behind was severely lacking. This was most notable when he took an 18-yard sack on third-and-11 down 23-14, then on the Huskies’ final drive on fourth-and-19 he chose to run instead of buy a little more time and fire off a throw.
Washington entered No. 1 in the FBS in total defense, allowing 240.9 yards per game, with only 100 points yielded in nine games. Only UCLA (23) managed more than 16 points against the Huskies, who rarely broke down on that side of the ball.
But with Washington’s offense doing next to nothing after its first few drives, the defense started to wear down as Stanford controlled the clock and methodically moved the ball. The Huskies defense was on the field for more than 36 minutes including 12:06 in the third quarter, when the unit allowed 138 yards.
Third down was the biggest problem, with Washington giving up 10 conversions on 18 plays. That included several long gains, including 39 on third-and-8, 26 on third-and-3 and 18 on third-and-6.
Special Teams: B-minus
When Browning’s 42-yard pooch punt, which pinned Stanford at its 5-yard line, is the highlight of the special teams play, then it wasn’t a notable night. Washington didn’t do anything bad in that area, but the Huskies also failed to make any significant positive plays. With the offense scuffling and the defense getting pushed around, some special teams help could have mattered.
Instead, there was nothing. Dante Pettis was neutralized by Stanford’s punting, unable to return either of the 2 kicks that went his way. Salvon Ahmed, handling kickoffs, tried to bring 1 out from the end zone and managed to get back to the 11-yard line. Washington scored on that drive, though.
Stanford was 3 of 4 on field goals, the miss coming because of kicker error and not any sort of pressure by Washington.
Chris Petersen and his staff had a game plan in mind and executed it perfectly early on. The opening drive was a masterful work of play calling, as was Washington’s second possession. After getting stopped in the red zone on fourth-and-1 on the third drive, everything fell apart.
There weren’t any sort of visible adjustments, certainly not to create the kind of third-quarter performances we’d seen so often from Washington this season. The Huskies were outscored 10-0 that period and 20-8 in the second half, unable to find a way to scheme to stop Stanford’s Bryce Love despite knowing he was going to get the ball a ton. Love finished with 30 carries for 166 yards and 3 touchdowns.
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