SEATTLE (CBS) – In front of crowd of 47,000-plus in Santa Clara, Calif., the Washington Huskies won the Pac-12 Championship in a 41-10 thrashing of the Colorado Buffalos.
In what was a projected as a defensive battle between two of the best defenses in both the conference and the nation, the Huskies put in a clinical performance.
Washington’s defense held Colorado to under 200 total yards on offense, and picked off Buffalo quarterback Sefo Liufau three times in the third quarter. The senior signal caller was knocked out with an ankle injury by a suffocating Huskies pass rush in first quarter. While he would return in the second half, Liufau never figured out the defense and finished with just 21 yards through the air 13 yards on the ground.
True freshman Taylor Rapp, named Pac-12 freshman of the year earlier in the week, came up with a pick-6 to start the 3rd quarter, and finished with three tackles and two interceptions en route to being named Pac-12 Championship MVP.
On a night where Jake Browning and the passing offense were unable to get much going, Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman were electric on the ground. Gaskin rushed for 159 yards on 29 carries, and Coleman went for 101 on 18 carries. Both rushers lead the Huskies down the field on a number of scoring drives, as Coleman and Chico McClatcher, who only rushed once for seven yards, both found the end zone.
The Pac-12 Championship win gives Washington its first conference title since 2000, and their first 12-win season since 1991, when the Huskies were national champs.
The big question down the stretch for many college football analyst was if the Huskies hung on and won the Pac-12 title.
Now, after the dominant performance against Colorado, the answer is pretty simple: The Washington Huskies are one of the top-four teams in the nation.
There’s still big conference championship games between Clemson-Virginia Tech in the ACC and Penn State-Wisconsin in the Big 10 slated for Saturday. And with Sunday’s College Football Playoff final rankings looming, Washington has a little over a day to play the waiting game.
However, there should be no question that Washington will be playing near New Years in the College Football Semi-Final.
Things could get interesting come Saturday with the other championship games. At this point, the assumption was that if Washington did get in, it would be the No. 4 seed. But depending on how things play out on Saturday, Huskies could realistically jump as high as No. 2.
Should the selection committee deem that Washington’s win over No. 8 Colorado was the most impressive win from Saturday, the Huskies could not only jump a Clemson team who looked wobbly down the stretch, but even a Ohio State team that didn’t even play on championship weekend. The committee seems to be leaning towards Ohio State being a lock, but not playing in their conference title game could work against them in seedings.
Yet through all the speculation, the Huskies can relax on Saturday and hang their heads high knowing that they have restored Washington to its former glory as a Pac-12 Champion, and that after Sunday’s rankings are released, they’ll be gearing up to make a run at a national title.
The Huskies are back, and Chris Peterson and Co. have no intention of going away quietly anytime soon.