SEATTLE (AP) — Jake Browning would rather talk about the six touchdowns he threw a year ago against Oregon. Or simply snapping a 12-game losing streak to the Ducks.
No matter how much Browning wants to deflect the conversation, it all comes back to “The Point,” that moment when Washington’s quarterback briefly lost his composure, pointing at an Oregon defender on his way into the end zone.
“It was pretty dumb to do. It kind of sucks that it was such a big game and that’s what everybody talks about is pointing,” Browning said. “We definitely won that in all three phases last year so it’s probably going to motivate them even more. It just kind of frustrates me.”
No moment encapsulated Washington’s 70-21 beating of its neighbors to the south last season than Browning’s uncharacteristic point. It was a moment that his teammates loved, Washington coach Chris Petersen didn’t like and Browning would rather not talk about as the Ducks visit the 12th-ranked Huskies on Saturday night.
“Jake played hard. That’s the type of guy we’ve got running our offense, and I love it. He’s fiery and he loves football,” Washington running back Myles Gaskin said. “It’s good to see him do things like that.”
While Browning would like to forget his action, last year’s victory by Washington was a seminal moment. Snapping the losing streak to Oregon became a huge catalyst for the Huskies run to the College Football Playoff.
Washington (7-1, 4-1 Pac-12) could use another impressive performance against the Ducks if it has hopes of finding a spot in the playoff again. The Huskies were ranked 12th in the initial rankings this week, meaning they need some help to get back into the conversation.
Oregon (5-4, 2-4) would love nothing more than ending those hopes for Washington and continuing its five-game winning streak at Husky Stadium. Oregon hasn’t lost in Seattle since 2003 and may be getting quarterback Justin Herbert back after he missed the past four games due to injury. The Ducks have not announced who the starter will be but Herbert was taking reps with the first-team offense this week.
“We’re going to put Justin out there when we feel like he’s ready to go and again we’re not going to do anything to jeopardize him,” Oregon coach Willie Taggart said. “If he’s ready this week we’ll play him and if not then we won’t but we’re going to continue to practice him and let him continue to get better but we’re not going to put him out there in harm’s way and let him re-injure himself.”
Here’s what else to know as the Ducks and Huskies meet for the 110th time:
TIME TO FLY: If Herbert returns it will be a huge boost to Oregon’s passing game. The Ducks have just two passing touchdowns in the past four games with Herbert on the sideline. Braxton Burmeister has been a threat to run, but the Ducks have thrown for more than 100 yards only once in the four games Herbert has missed. Herbert threw for nine touchdowns and just two interceptions through the first five games.
RUN AROUND: Washington is coming off its best rushing game since, well, running over the Ducks a year ago. The Huskies had 333 yards rushing in last week’s romp over UCLA. Gaskin led the way with 169 yards and one touchdown, while Lavon Coleman rushed for three TDs. The Huskies were so dominant on the ground, Browning attempted a career-low 11 passes and finished with just 98 yards in the air. Last year the Huskies rushed for 378 yards in the win over Oregon.
DEALING WITH DISTRACTIONS: Oregon’s preparation was somewhat impacted this week by rumors that Taggart was a potential candidate for the open job at Florida. Taggart tried to put those rumors to rest but felt the need to discuss it with his team.
“Our guys know they can ask me anything and I’m always honest and real with our guys. If they ask me about it I’ll tell them the truth. Other than that I’m the same guy I’ve been every week,” Taggart said.
TOP DEFENSE: Washington ranks second in the country in total defense allowing 236.2 yards per game, trailing only Alabama.
Washington is also the No. 2 run defense and fourth-best scoring defense. UCLA became the first team to top 20 points against the Huskies this season, but that included a fumble return for a TD in the closing minutes.
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