SEATTLE — Once again it all comes down to the Apple Cup.
The University of Washington football team defeated the Oregon State Beavers 42-23 Saturday afternoon at Husky Stadium, setting up a winner-takes-all matchup against cross-state rival Washington State for the Pac-12 North championship.
No. 17 Washington received big efforts from its four-year starters, quarterback Jake Browning and running back Myles Gaskin, who were playing their final game at Husky Stadium. With those two pulling the strings the Huskies raced to a 28-3 lead in the first quarter, then coasted to victory from there.
“I’m really happy to send the seniors out with a win,” Washington coach Chris Petersen said. “Jake finished it out here at home with a pretty solid performance, and Myles got some things done as well, so it was good to see that happen. I’m just pleased and happy we were able to get this last one done, it was important for us, and now it’s a big game next week.”
Indeed, now comes the fun part. Washington’s victory means Friday’s Apple Cup against Washington State in Pullman will decide the Pac-12 North title. It’s the second time in three years the Apple Cup winner advances to the Pac-12 championship game. The Huskies rolled past the Cougars 45-17 in Pullman two years ago to claim the division crown, and they’re looking for a repeat performance.
“One of our yearly goals is to go to the Pac-12 championship,” said Washington running back Salvon Ahmed, who scored two touchdowns. “Getting past WSU is not going to be easy, there’s never an easy week in the Pac-12. We have to come out there and have a great week of practice and be really dialed into what we’re doing.”
Washington (8-3, 6-2 Pac-12) had little difficulty dispatching the Beavers to ensure the importance of Friday’s game. Oregon State came into the game ranked 128th out of 129 FBS schools in both scoring defense (45.1 points allowed per game) and total defense (542.8 yards allowed per game), and the Huskies exploited that weakness right from the outset.
The game was just four plays old when Washington was first on the scoreboard, with Gaskin’s 64-yard run serving as the catalyst. The Huskies scored touchdowns just 1 minute, 6 seconds apart later in the first quarter thanks to an Oregon State fumble on a kickoff. By the time Browning found Cade Otton on a 21-yard touchdown pass with 43 seconds remaining in the quarter, the Huskies led 28-3 and for all intents and purposes the game was over.
“I thought we were able to come out swinging, running the ball, and it opened up some stuff in the passing game,” Browning said about Washington’s fast start on offense. “I thought we executed well in the first quarter.”
Washington was even able to get some game time for senior tackle Trey Adams. Adams, a preseason All-American, suffered a back injury just before the season began and hadn’t played all season. He entered the game in the second quarter and remained in the game until fourth-quarter garbage time.
While the game had its ebbs and flows, Oregon State never was able to stop Washington’s offense. The game’s opening drive, when the Huskies went 79 yards on four plays for a touchdown, established that the Beavers were not going to be able to keep up with Washington in this one.
Jake Browning, Washington. The Huskies’ quarterback had perhaps his best outing of the season, going 17-for-23 for 242 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. The victory was his 37th as Washington’s quarterback, breaking the Pac-12 record for victories by a QB.
Myles Gaskin, Washington. The Huskies’ running back and Lynnwood native ran for 135 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown, and he also caught four passes for 24 yards and another score.
Edefuan Ulofoshio, Washington. The walk-on freshman linebacker played in his first ever game, and he twice forced fumbles on kickoff coverage, including one that resulted in a turnover on his first collegiate play.
Jermar Jefferson, Oregon State. The Beavers’ running back was one of the few bright spots for Oregon State, gaining 115 yards on 19 carries.
Saturday was a homecoming for Oregon State senior quarterback Jake Luton, who is a graduate of Marysville Pilchuck High School. Luton has had a rough season, missing time because of a concussion suffered in the Beavers’ opener at Ohio State and a sprained ankle suffered in Oregon State’s third game at Nevada. But Luton had a solid outing against the Huskies, going 18-for-32 for 190 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Hodgins.