Washington coach Jimmy Lake was asked if there’s any chance his undefeated Huskies, No. 22 in the College Football Playoff rankings, might be looking past Saturday’s opponent, the visiting Stanford Cardinal.
The Huskies, after all, have a game against No. 23 Oregon for first place in the Pacific-12 Conference’s North Division looming.
“The North, for the last six years, has been Stanford, Washington, Stanford, Washington for most of those years. I believe it’s four or five of the last six years. I’m sorry, but this is Stanford we’re talking about here. This is a powerhouse in the North Division. This is a huge game. This is a storied program that we have a lot of respect for, a big-time opponent. That thought is not going into one person in this whole building’s head. … This is a game that is a fistfight as well every single year, because of their style of play and our style of play. Stanford and Washington have run the North for years.”
The Ducks, who have played in three conference championship games since 2011 and won the title last year, might dispute that, but Lake’s point is that only the nomadic Cardinal matter this week.
Stanford (1-2, 1-2 Pac-12), which will spend the next two weeks in the Pacific Northwest because of COVID-19 restrictions in Santa Clara County in California, and Washington (3-0, 3-0) are both coming off emotional victories.
The Cardinal won the Big Game against Bay Area rival Cal 24-23 last Friday as Austin Jones ran for a pair of touchdowns, Davis Mills threw for 205 yards and a score, and Thomas Booker blocked the potential tying extra point with 58 seconds remaining to take back The Axe.
“We still didn’t play our best, but we needed to win a close game,” said Cardinal coach David Shaw, whose team’s game next weekend against Oregon State has already been moved to Corvallis, Ore. “We want to be a great football team, and we’re getting closer to good.”
The Huskies, who had their Apple Cup rivalry against Washington State canceled because of the Cougars’ coronavirus concerns, instead got an unscheduled matchup against Utah last Saturday.
The Utes took a 21-point halftime lead before the Huskies clawed back for a 24-21 victory on Dylan Morris’ 16-yard touchdown pass to tight end Cade Otton with 36 seconds left.
It was only the fifth time in program history the Huskies rallied from a deficit of 21 or more points to win, and it was the first since 1989.
“That was probably the first comeback I’ve ever been a part of,” said Huskies linebacker Zion Tupuola-Fetui, who had three sacks. “I just had to take in the moment.”
Morris, a first-year starter, was 23 of 38 for 272 yards and two touchdowns but threw three interceptions. He was 6 of 9 for 71 yards on the final drive, including a play on which the snap was botched but Morris recovered to complete a pass to Otton.
“That’s the type of calm that he has through adverse situations,” Lake said.
The Huskies hope to take advantage of a Stanford run defense that’s allowing a conference-worst 229.0 yards per game.
–Field Level Media