Here’s three takeaways from the sixth-ranked Washington Huskies’ 48-16 victory over the Fresno State Bulldogs:
1) Now that looked like a national championship contender.
Before the season began Washington, which was a national semifinalist last year, was thought to be in the championship picture again this year, especially with quarterback Jake Browning, running backs Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman, and receiver Dante Pettis back. But those thoughts took a hit in Washington’s opener when the Huskies were unimpressive in a 30-14 victory over Rutgers, and a 63-7 victory over FBS Montana last week didn’t do much to assuage any concerns.
Fresno State may not have been the greatest competition, either, but the Huskies did what they were supposed to against an opponent like the Bulldogs. Washington was all over Fresno State from the beginning, scoring touchdowns on their first four possessions with a punt return for a TD thrown in for good measure. When the Huskies scored on the second play from scrimmage in the second half it made the score 48-7, and the starters were yanked from there, rendering what happened afterwards irrelevant.
Fresno State may have gone 1-11 last year, but they played at No. 1 Alabama last week and lost 41-10. If Washington hadn’t called off the Dawgs so early — the second-string defense was on the field in the second quarter — the score would been much more lopsided.
2) Dante Pettis is now in the NCAA record books.
It was a record-setting day for Pettis, who tied the NCAA career record for punt returns for touchdowns. Pettis went 77 yards for a TD in the first quarter, giving him eight punt returns for TDs in his Huskies career. That matches the record held by Texas Tech’s Wes Welker and Oklahoma’s Antonio Perkins. It was also the third straight game in which Pettis returned a punt for a touchdown, which also tied an NCAA mark.
That wasn’t all Pettis did Saturday, as he also caught five passes for 92 yards and three touchdowns, and he even had a 36-yard completion on a double pass.
Pettis has at least nine more games with which to make the NCAA career punt-return touchdowns record his own However, one has to wonder how much of a chance he’ll get for his ninth. No doubt opponents are going to find a way to punt away from Pettis to prevent him the opportunity of causing more damage on a return.
3) It was an up and down evening for Myles Gaskin.
The junior running back and Lynnwood native was off to something of a slow start as, after rushing for more than 1,300 yards in each of his first two seasons, he had just 97 yards on 16 carries through Washington’s first two games.
In one sense Gaskin had a big night as he scored three touchdowns, two rushing and one receiving. He scored the Huskies’ first TD less than five minutes into the game as he took a fly sweep to the left, got around the edge, raced 28 yards and leaped into the end zone. He finished as Washington’s leading rusher with 56 yards on eight carries.
But Gaskin also had his issues, as he was stopped for a loss on multiple occasions, and he also lost a fumble early in the third quarter. It was just Gaskin’s second fumble in 488 carries as a Husky, and the first he lost.
Here’s Gaskin speaking after the game: