Myles Gaskin

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Kyle Whittingham attempts to defend bizarre timeout decision that doomed Utes vs. Washington

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If you went to bed a little early on Saturday night then the chances are pretty good you missed one of the more baffling coaching decisions of the season. With Washington and Utah tied at 30-30 after the Huskies battled back in the second half, Washington received the football with under a minute to play. Washington seemed to be playing for overtime with a short run to keep the clock rolling when Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham called a timeout. This gave Washington head coach Chris Petersen a chance to change the mindset on his sideline and go for the win before overtime, and it led to a game-winning field goal as time expired.

Whittingham essentially gave Washington a chance to win the Huskies had no intention of playing for in regulation, and it may end up costing Utah a spot in a postseason bowl game. After the game, Whittingham defended his decision-making by saying he was attempting to be aggressive, suggesting that if Washington really was playing for overtime, they would have taken a knee.

“You’d have to ask Chris that. But if they were not being aggressive they would have taken a knee,” Whittingham explained. “What’s the point in running a play if they’re not going to try to at least maneuver into field goal range. So we called timeout, had them in decent field position, second and eight or second and nine, and one incomplete pass and another timeout if they decide to run the ball. So it was a long shot, but we’re just trying to win and it obviously didn’t work out.

Here’s the play where Utah called the timeout. It sure seemed as though Washington had no real intention of playing for a field goal unless Utah made a huge mistake, which as it turned out they did,

Whittingham had no legitimate reason to call for the timeout and admitted it was a decision he would take back given the hindsight of knowing how the game would eventually end.

“In hindsight, I probably wouldn’t have called the timeout,” Whittingham said. “But at the time, we were just trying to be aggressive and get the ball back to a guy who has about a sixty-yard range field goal wise.”

Petersen said after the game they were merely trying to run Myles Gaskin to see if there would be a crack or a big play. That never developed, but the timeout changed the situation for Washington. Petersen, not one to go out and trash an opposing coach over a questionable decision that benefits him, said he understood what Whittingham was trying to do.

“We wanted to run the ball and see if we could pop through with Myles and maybe get a 10-yard run,” Petersen said. “I get what Kyle was trying to do. You have to play aggressive in these situations.”

No, you do not.

There is a time to play with aggression, but this was not the time. Washington was settling on playing overtime, and Whittingham overthought the situation and got burned by it.

Bryce Love and Stanford knock over No. 9 Washington to knockout Pac-12 playoff hopes

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The Pac-12’s chances of participating in the College Football Playoff were on life support heading into a huge weekend of action.

Unfortunately for Larry Scott and company on the West Coast, those postseason dreams didn’t even make it to Saturday. Stanford once again threw a wrench into the league’s playoff hopes and did so in impressive fashion to upset No. 9 Washington 30-22 on Friday night behind the team’s big hitters on both sides of the ball.

Running back Bryce Love was not surprisingly the focal point of the Cardinal offense, looking solid despite still dealing with some issues from a bum ankle that was hurting coming into the game and was re-injured in second quarter. The Heisman candidate battled through all that though, not ripping off his typical huge runs but grinding away at one of the best defenses in the country to the tune of 160 yards and three touchdowns.

Stanford didn’t just rely on Love to be the only way to move the ball though, as quarterback K.J. Costello had his best game of the season on the way to 211 yards and several huge throws down the field to loosen up the box for his tailback.  Most of those throws went to his biggest target in receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside, who didn’t find the end zone but did rack up five catches for 130 yards in the upset.

The Huskies had been holding onto the slim hopes of sneaking back into the College Football Playoff again this season but never seemed to put a consistent effort on the field on both sides of the ball after jumping out to an early lead. Running back Myles Gaskin was nearly the equal of Love, managing 120 yards and three scores on the ground to help his team control some of the clock down on the Farm. Backfield-mate Jake Browning started the game with 10 straight completions but was lackluster in the second half — including an awful sack in the fourth quarter that later setup a Stanford touchdown.

Gaskin also added a fumble to Chris Petersen’s issues in the loss and Washington recorded an uncharacteristic seven penalties for 73 yards to set them back even further as their Pac-12 title hopes went almost completely out the window.

The victory allowed Stanford head coach David Shaw to tie Hall of Famer Glenn ‘Pop’ Warner (71) for most wins in school history and keep his team’s hopes for yet another Pac-12 title alive by the thinnest of margins. The Cardinal moved a half game up in the North division with only Bay Area rival Cal remaining on the conference slate (Notre Dame also comes to town) and will need these same Huskies to beat their in-state rival Washington State in the Apple Cup in order to make it to Santa Clara.

RB Myles Gaskin rolling as No. 9 Washington leads Stanford at halftime

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If you expected a heavy dose of the running game with No. 9 Washington traveling to Stanford, you would be spot on. The Huskies put together several impressive drives in the first half offensively to jump out to a 14-10 lead after two quarters in a battle of Pac-12 North heavyweights.

Tailback Myles Gaskin proved to be a workhorse in the backfield to edge out his more highly touted counterpart on the other sideline, rushing for 87 yards in the half to go along with his two scores for the College Football Playoff contenders. He wasn’t the only one racking up yards however, as the play-action game was working well for quarterback Jake Browning (120 yards) on his way to 10 consecutive completions to start the game. Washington really mixed in tempo to their advantage and moved the ball against the normally stingy Stanford defense.

The Cardinal offense was also surprisingly effective despite Heisman contender Bryce Love being bottled up fairly well. He still finished the half with 43 yards and a touchdown but never busted any sort of big run and had a long of eight at the break. Love’s first quarter score did allow him to extend his streak to 11 straight games with a touchdown, tied for the longest in school history and the best active mark in the FBS right now. Just as interesting was the fact that the team came out throwing a lot more than they have in recent weeks, with starter K.J. Costello throwing for 137 yards on 10 completions.

Given the past history of these two programs, a low-scoring affair that is built around defense and running the ball should come as no surprise. It should be fascinating to see what adjustments will be made in the locker room as the game carries several division and national title implications.

No. 7 Washington wins Pac-12 title game rematch with Colorado thanks to stifling second half defense

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For a half, Colorado had No. 7 Washington just where they wanted in a Pac-12 Championship Game rematch from a year ago. Just like in that matchup in Santa Clara 10 months ago, the Buffs trailed by just a score going into halftime and looked surprisingly sharp against their highly ranked opponents from Seattle.

Just like it did last December though, the third quarter rolled around and Huskies reminded everybody why they reign supreme in the Pac-12 until further notice, capping off a dominant second half to capture a key road win in Boulder 37-10 over the Buffs.

While Jake Browning still didn’t seem to figure out Mike MacIntyre‘s defense the second time around (11/21, 160 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), it’s not like the UW signal-caller needed to with the effort his run game and defense were able to provide on a rainy night under the Flatirons. Tailback Myles Gaskin had no problem shouldering more of the load with his backup out, rushing for 202 yards and two scores while breaking off big run after big run to slowly crush the home crowd’s spirits. If there was anything that did really go wrong for the offense in the second half, it was the fact that wide receiver Chico McClatcher was carted off after a gruesome ankle injury that figures to sideline him for some time to come.

Still, the impressive performance on the scoreboard was really the result of the Huskies’ stifling defense coming to play after some adjustments in the locker room. Linebacker Azeem Victor hit the double-digit mark for tackles and corner Myles Bryant pulled down a pick-six — one of three interceptions on the night. As a result, what was a close game for about two and a half quarters, ended up turning into a runaway win for the defending Pac-12 North champs.

While it was a tough night on the scoreboard with nothing going in the second half, there were some positives for the Buffs early on. Quarterback Steven Montez did look sharp working the middle of the field until the pressure was turned up and running back Phillip Lindsay managed 68 yards and a touchdown against one of the stiffer run defenses in the country. Given some of USC’s early struggles, it’s pretty clear that Colorado will remain a factor in the Pac-12 South battle if nothing else.

In the end though, it was the same ol’ same ol’ out West as Washington remained unbeaten and looking again like a College Football Playoff contender once again.

No. 7 Washington holds slim three point halftime lead at rainy Colorado

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Colorado was anxious to extract some revenge against No. 7 Washington for their blowout loss to the Huskies in last season’s Pac-12 Championship Game and certainly went toe-to-toe against them in rainy conditions Saturday night in Boulder.

It wasn’t enough to take the lead into the locker room at halftime for the Buffs but they certainly looked like they wouldn’t be going anywhere as Washington held on to a 10-7 advantage at the break.

Jake Browning threw for just 89 yards and tossed an interception as he was forced to move around quite a bit while also dealing with the nasty weather that swirled things up on the flat irons. Counterpart Steven Montez also threw two interceptions but posted a more respectable 129 yards on 15/19 passing, most of which were short and intermediate throws.

The flip side to the signal-callers struggling at times was that the ground game was the focal point for the offenses. Myles Gaskin carried the load for the Huskies with his backup out with an injury and scored a touchdown to go along with 64 yards. Buffs’ tailback Phillip Lindsay has a tough time going against that big front seven UW trots out but still managed 46 yards and a score.

While it certainly wasn’t the sharpest half of football in Pac-12 play this season, the two teams gave every indication things would be very interesting in the second half and not the blowout we saw the last time they met down in Santa Clara.