Washington defensive back Kevin King intercepts a pass in the end zone intended for Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry Saturday at Husky Stadium in Seattle. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

No. 7 UW sets up big Apple Cup with 44-18 win over Arizona State

SEATTLE — With Washington State losing at Colorado earlier Saturday, the University of Washington football did not need to beat Arizona State to set up a winner-take-all Apple Cup next Friday afternoon in Pullman.

But Washington won anyway and did so convincingly, shrugging off a sluggish offensive start to bury the slumping Sun Devils 44-18 on a cool but dry evening at Husky Stadium. The win in the team’s home finale lifts the Huskies to 10-1 overall and keeps them squarely in the chase for a top-four spot in the College Football Playoff, with that bid evidently depending on the outcome of next week’s Pullman showdown.

“We’re just really excited to play for something that hasn’t been done in a long time,” said UW safety Budda Baker, looking ahead to the Apple Cup. “We’re just really excited. … Whoever wins represents the North (in the Pac-12 Conference championship game), so it’s going to be a very big challenge and we’re just really excited.”

“It’ll be the biggest (Apple Cup) since I’ve been here, for sure,” agreed defensive tackle Elijah Qualls.

Next week’s Washington-Washington State game will be in the college football spotlight because the Huskies took care of business against Arizona State. One week after suffering their first loss against USC, they bounced back with a thorough thrashing of the Sun Devils. Washington sputtered offensively in the early minutes, but still built a 24-0 halftime lead and then pushed the margin to 30-0 midway through the third quarter. From there the two teams pretty much traded points, with Arizona State scoring two late touchdowns on desperation fourth-down heaves to the end zone.

But this one was probably not as close as the final score might suggest. Through three quarters the Sun Devils were woeful offensively, totaling a mere 84 yards and three points, though they padded those numbers by mustering some too-little, too-late offense in the final period.

Washington’s offense started slowly, coming up empy on the team’s first four possessions, save for a first-quarter Cameron Van Winkle field goal set up by a UW fumble recovery on a Sun Devil punt return at the ASU 12. But a change of direction in the second quarter seemed to make a difference — there was a brisk wind off Lake Washington, and the Huskies had it at their backs in the period — as Washington scored touchdowns on three of four drives before halftime.

Slot receiver Chico McClatcher turned a backfield screen pass from Browning into a 75-yard TD scamper early in the second quarter, Browning followed with a 46-yard scoring strike to Pettis behind the ASU secondary, and the Huskies mounted a seven-play, 62-yard touchdown drive in the late moments. Browning had six straight completions on the march — he had eight in a row to close the half — and running back Lavon Coleman bulled through the middle for the final yard with 10 seconds remaining on the scoreboard clock.

“I thought we were moving the ball well the whole time,” Browning said. “We just had some bad turnovers (early in the game) by me. I missed on some throws I usually make, so that part’s on me.”

With Arizona State threatening a fourth-qaurter rally, Washington got two big-play touchdowns in the final 15 minutes. Running back Myles Gaskin exploded through a big hole for a 45-yard TD sprint and linebacker Keishawn Bierria, whose usual job is to deny touchdowns, gave the Huskies an unusual late-game TD, snagging on ASU onside kick on a high bounce and spinning through the oncoming kick team for a 46-yard scamper to the end zone.

This victory, though far from flawless, was an important tonic after last week’s decisive loss to USC. “I’m proud of these guys,” said UW coach Chris Petersen, “and I’m happy we can send our seniors out with a win because I think that’s always extremely important.”

Ahead for Washington will be the team’s biggest game of the season with so much — a spot in the Pac-12 title game and perhaps in the College Football Playoff —­­­­ riding on an Apple Cup win against the Cougars.

“I think everybody knows it’s a big game regardless of what the records are, and now we have two pretty good teams with good records and a lot to play for,” Petersen acknowledged. “Everybody plays really hard in that game anyways and now it’s kind of like everybody hoped it’d be.

“Washington State has done a great job,” he said. “They just continue to get better every week and they’re playing at a high level with a really good quarterback … so we’ll have our hands full for sure. It’ll be a heck of a game.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

Randy Johnson threw the first no-hitter in Seattle Mariners franchise history. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
POLL: What is the greatest no-hitter in Mariners history?

Tuesday is the 30th anniversary of Seattle’s first no-hitter, the first of six in franchise history.

Kispert’s NBA draft decision on hold for now

The Edmonds native and Gonzaga junior is playing the waiting game with the pre-draft process unsettled.

Community sports roundup: MP alum earns big academic honor

Olivia Lee’s work at EvCC is recognized; the Snohomish Soccer Dome closes its doors for good.

POLL RESULTS: “The Last Dance” was a big hit

Readers watched the 10-part documentary on the Chicago Bulls of the 90s, and they liked what they saw.

Silvertips notebook: Fonstad likely to return to Everett

The winger is not signing a pro contract with Montreal, meaning a return to the WHL is likely.

MG’s Knight named Gatorade state baseball player of year

Despite not having a season, the star junior was recognized as the top overall player in Washington.

Stay or go? Local senior college athletes face tough decision

Whether to accept the NCAA’s offer of an extra year due to the missed spring season isn’t black and white.

Oregon State’s Mikayla Pivec speaks to reporters during the Pac-12 Conference women’s NCAA college basketball media day last Oct. 7 in San Francisco. (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)
Pivec won’t play in the WNBA during the 2020 season

The Atlanta Dream announce the Lynnwood High School product will sit out for personal reasons.

Major issues confront Minor League Baseball and the AquaSox

“When the time is right for baseball to return, we will be here,” pledges general manager Danny Tetzlaff.

“The Last Dance,” a 10-part documentary produced by NBA legend Michael Jordan, is a 10-part series chronicling the Chicago Bulls’ run to the 1997-98 NBA championship, the franchise’s sixth title in eight seasons. (AP Photo/Beth A. Keiser)
POLL: Have you seen “The Last Dance,” and what’s your take?

The 10-part ESPN documentary on Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls has been a phenomenon of the pandemic.

Healthy George Karl starts podcast, may someday coach again

The ex-Sonics coach, who has survived cancer three times, talks about the time he offended Michael Jordan’s sensibilities.

Felix Hernandez aims for 200 career wins and 3,000 strikeouts

But the COVID-19 pandemic is getting in the way of the former Mariner’s pitcher’s goals.