Washington stayed quiet. Stanford was just the next opponent, the Huskies said, and there was no extra meaning or motivation.
Then the celebration happened, complete with purple-clad fans rushing the field to celebrate Washington’s 44-6 rout Friday night.
After months of hype surrounding a possible breakout performance for Washington (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12), the 10th-ranked Huskies showed they were ready for their return to the national stage.
And they did it emphatically, handing No. 7 Stanford (3-1, 2-1) its worst loss since a 41-3 setback against Arizona State in 2007.
“We have had this game circled since spring time,” Washington defensive end Joe Mathis said. “They beat us so bad last year. We wanted them so bad.”
Jake Browning threw for 210 yards and three touchdowns; Myles Gaskin added 100 yards rushing and two scores, and Washington claimed its most lopsided victory over an AP top 10 team since beating No. 5 Southern California 31-0 in 1990. That game 26 years ago announced Washington as a national contender, and it went on to share the national title a year later with Miami.
It was Washington’s biggest win over a top 10 team, bettering a 36-point victory over Wisconsin in 1959.
But try getting Washington coach Chris Petersen to acknowledge the importance.
“We don’t get any trophies for winning tonight,” Petersen said.
Browning was the leader of an efficient offense that scored on seven of nine drives. He threw touchdown passes of 3 yards to Dante Pettis, 19 yards to John Ross and 3 yards to Aaron Fuller with 5:30 remaining. Browning was 15 of 21 and did not commit a turnover.
Equally important was Washington’s ability to establish a running game. The Huskies rushed for 214 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry.
“Everyone just did their job,” Browning said. “It wasn’t anything flashy about it. Everyone did what they were supposed to.”
Meanwhile, Stanford star Christian McCaffrey saw his Heisman Trophy aspirations hit a significant speed bump. McCaffrey was held to 49 yards rushing on 12 carries, five catches for 30 yards and continued his streak of never scoring an offensive touchdown in a road game.
It was McCaffrey’s fewest yards rushing since 2014 at California when he had 19 yards on three carries.
Stanford’s only TD came late in the third quarter on a 19-yard pass from Ryan Burns to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.
“We didn’t play well. We didn’t block well. We couldn’t run the ball. We couldn’t pass protect and we couldn’t complete passes with any consistency, particularly the first two and a half quarters,” Stanford coach David Shaw said. “Just not the style of football that we can play and not as well as we can play.”
Burns was 15 of 22 for 151 yards, but Washington controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides. Stanford quarterbacks were sacked eight times, six in the first half. Stanford had allowed only four total sacks in the first three games combined.
“That was about as poorly as we can play from start to finish. That’s the bottom line,” Shaw said.
Washington has a chance to make a significant jump possibly into the top five depending on what happens in the other matchups of top 10 teams this weekend. The Huskies were as high as No. 8 but slipped to 10th after edging Arizona in overtime last week.
Stanford is likely to be punished for such a lopsided defeat, but still has quality wins over Kansas State, USC and UCLA. Expect the Cardinal to fall into the teens.
Stanford: The Cardinal were unexpectedly sloppy. Stanford committed 11 penalties after entering the week as the least penalized team in the Pac-12. There were communication issues in part due to the roaring Washington crowd, but also a lack of sharpness not normally seen from Shaw’s team.
Washington: The defense was up to the task of keeping McCaffrey under control and forcing Burns to beat them through the air. McCaffrey had 34 yards on 10 carries in the first half and forced the Cardinal into numerous long third-down situations. That allowed Washington to bring extra pass rushers to get to Burns.
Stanford was playing short-handed without starting cornerbacks Quenton Meeks and Alijah Holder, starting wide receiver Francis Owusu and starting fullback Daniel Marx. Starting right tackle Casey Tucker limped off with an apparent leg injury late in the fourth quarter.
Stanford: The Cardinal head home after two straight weeks on the road to host Washington State.
Washington: The Huskies travel to Oregon looking to snap a 12-game losing streak to the Ducks.
Republished with permission from the Associated Press