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No. 16 Washington secures Pac-12 North with Apple Cup upset of No. 8 Washington State

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It’s been a dream season in more ways than one for No. 8 Washington State and everything was there for the taking on Friday night. A Pac-12 North title, a conference championship, a potential Rose Bowl berth and perhaps, if things broke their way, a trip to the College Football Playoff was on the line for the Cougars in their final home game of the year.

There was just one problem: that team from the other side of the state relishes playing spoiler for their rivals when the stakes are the highest.

Such was the case again as No. 16 Washington braved blizzard-like conditions on the Palouse to knock off Wazzu 28-15 and capture the Pac-12 North title for a second time in three years.

Seniors played a big role in the game for the Huskies as they won their sixth in a row in the series, none of which came close to being as cold, snowy, icy or windy as things were at Martin Stadium for this one. QB Jake Browning only threw three incompletions despite those elements but was reduced much more to game-manager status with 207 yards and a bad red zone interception in the first quarter. He was no doubt fine with that in keeping his record perfect against the in-state rivals during his career on Montlake and especially so given that it was a big night for his teammate in the backfield as Myles Gaskin rushed for 170 hard-fought yards and three touchdowns.

Wideout Aaron Fuller was responsible for UW’s other score that came off a Chris Petersen special: a reverse pass trick play that found a wide-open Hunter Bryant in the end zone.

While there will be plenty of taunts from those in purple and gold that the Cougs, well, Coug’d this one, that wasn’t the case.

Heisman candidate Gardner Minshew threw for only 152 yards on 35 attempts against one of the best secondaries in the country (the weather was obviously a factor too) but didn’t quite have another rally left in him. Tailback James Williams had a nice night as the one player who could find some success on offense for Mike Leach’s crew, rushing for 65 yards and a pair of touchdowns while also catching seven passes for 30 yards.

Not all is lost for Wazzu however, as the team is likely to be ticketed to a New Year’s Six Bowl even with the loss should they remain in the top 12 of the standings. That will be a bitter-sweet trip to either the Fiesta or Peach Bowl if it does indeed happen come Selection Sunday given what was in front of the team on Friday night but such is life after one of the best rivalries up in the Pacific Northwest.

The Huskies, meanwhile, can look ahead to the Pac-12 Championship Game next Friday night against Utah at Levi’s Stadium. The two have already played this season, staging a defensive-minded game that Washington won 21-7 back in mid-September. Both teams have had several up’s and down’s since that meeting and it is safe to say they enter as very different teams when they meet again.

The end goal is still there for the taking for the preseason Pac-12 favorite though: a conference title, a Rose Bowl berth and a bit of respect.

Jake Browning dazzles as No. 11 Washington crushes No. 20 BYU

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Jake Browning set Washington’s all-time passing mark and the Huskies’ defense continued to dominate, allowing No. 11 Washington to cruise to a 35-7 win over No. 20 BYU in Seattle.

The senior quarterback was nearly perfect on the night, completing 23-of-25 passes for 277 yards with a touchdown while scampering for another

After trading punts to open the game, Washington got on the board with an 8-play, 68-yard touchdown drive, capped by a 5-yard Salvon Ahmed rush at the 7:19 mark of the third quarter.

BYU (3-2) answered with its only consequential drive of the first half — a 13-play, 56-yard march — but the Cougars got behind the chains after penetrating the Washington red zone, and Skyler Southam‘s 45-yard field goal was no good.

Washington (4-1) capitalized on that miss with a 72-yard, 6-play push punctuated by a 6-yard Myles Gaskin rush, handing the Huskies complete control of the game with 11:05 to play in the first half.

Another long Husky march, 58 yards over 13 plays, ended in a missed 40-yard Peyton Henry field goal with 1:28 left in the opening half. That missed field goal seemed to signal a 14-0 score heading into halftime, but Ben Burr-Kiven popped the ball loose from BYU running back Lopini Katoa at the BYU 24 with 22 seconds left before halftime, and Browning fired two complete passes, then rushed nine yards for a touchdown with five seconds left before the break.

The trend continued in the second half, when Browning found Drew Sample for a 15-yard score, the quarterback’s 100th career score as a Husky. Washington completed the scoring with a 6-yard Ahmed score at the 1:24 mark of the third quarter.

BYU’s score came with the help of Washington, as Chico McClatcher fumbled a punt at his own 21, and the Cougars still needed seven plays to score, as Katoa punched in a 4th-and-goal from the 1 with 41 ticks left in the game.

Tanner Mangum completed 18 of his 21 passes, but for just 160 yards. Washington dominated the rushing battle, 187-34. Ahmed and Gaskin combined to rush 24 times for 167 yards and three touchdowns.

Since dropping their opener to No. 9 Auburn in Seattle, Washington has allowed a total of 37 points over its four consecutive wins.

No. 10 Washington rides defense to win over slumping Arizona State

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Take one of the Pac-12’s best rushing attacks, mix in the league’s best receiver on the other sideline and stir after dark to get some wild, offensive-laden craziness in Seattle, right? Uh, not even close.

No. 10 Washington rode their incredible defense and used a handful of big plays from their offensive veterans to secure a bruising 27-20 win on Saturday night and drop the fighting Herm Edwards’ of Arizona State to a slumping .500 on the season.

Huskies QB Jake Browning crossed the 10,000 yard passing plateau for his college career and continued closing in on several school records with an efficient 202 yard game. That included three excellent throws into the end zone for touchdowns, one to Aaron Fulleranother to Ty Jones and the best of the bunch in the fourth quarter to help salt the game away to a tip-toeing Cade Otton.

The signal-caller’s play balanced out another solid (if not quite the usual spectacular) effort from Washington’s one-two punch in the backfield as Myles Gaskin recorded 86 yards on the ground and Salvon Ahmed chipped in with 71 more on limited carries. The team punted just three times all game and probably could have gotten off to a better start had their signature Chris Petersen trick play on the first play of the game — in this case, a double-pass — not been picked off.

The real star of the show might have been the defense though. Linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven looks like a budding All-American and finished with 20 tackles and two forced fumbles while the entire front seven was a load for the Sun Devils to handle. Eno Benjamin had just one long run on his way to 104 yards plus a TD and otherwise had to fight for running room on every carry.

He was still a bright spot for ASU all things considered… namely how rough of an outing it was for QB Manny Wilkins (104 yards passing) and star receiver N'Keal Harry (five catches, 20 yards). The entire group seemingly continued their struggles from last week’s loss against San Diego State and will now need to find some way to regroup with the heart of their Pac-12 slate coming up next month. After grabbing the nation’s attention with a victory over Michigan State, now will really be the time we’ll find out what Edwards can do as a college coach as he tries to rebound from a losing streak for the first time.

The Huskies, meanwhile, can rest easy knowing they didn’t get swept up in the wild nature of the day in college football with so many ranked teams falling to unranked squads. It was by no means a crisp outing for Petersen’s group but it is a precious win nevertheless and does set up a very intriguing game next Saturday night against a ranked BYU squad. At this point late into the night on Saturday, surviving and advancing is nothing to overlook and, thanks mostly to their defense, Washington did just that against Arizona State.

Auburn kicks their way to halftime lead on Washington in Atlanta

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You want some defensive football? You are getting it in Atlanta this afternoon. No. 9 Auburn holds a 15-13 lead on No. 6 Washington at halftime. Auburn kicker Anders Carlson has converted three field goals to help put points on the board for the Tigers.

Auburn’s defense set the tone on the first series of the game, forcing Washington to go three-and-out without picking up any yards, and the Tigers offense got to work on a short field thanks to a 32-yard punt return by Ryan Davis. Jarrett Stidham connected with Sal Cannella from 10 yards out for a touchdown thanks to an incredible effort by Canella to leap into the air to bring the ball down in the end zone.

Auburn’s Jamel Dean picked off a pass from Jake Browning on the next offensive series for the Huskies, which led to an Auburn field goal to take a 9-0 lead. It was a rough start for Washington, but it could have been worse. Washington got on the board on their next drive with a field goal.

Washington hopes to capitalize on a late momentum swing courtesy of a quick offensive touchdown drive, highlighted by a wonderful sideline catch by Ty Jones on the right sideline and followed immediately by a beautiful pass from Browning to Quinten Pounds for a touchdown.

This is still anyone’s game, and this should be a fun finish.

Alabama tops preseason Super 16 poll from FWAA and National Football Foundation

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Another day, another hour, and another top spot in a preseason poll for the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Alabama was the most popular pick for the top spot in the preseason Super 16 Poll from the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation. Alabama received 36 first-place votes to stay comfortably ahead of No. 2 Clemson. The Tigers received 14 first-place votes and Georgia and Michigan State each picked up one first-place vote.

The voters certainly are leaning toward Wisconsin as the top Big Ten team. The Badgers ranked fourth overall, two spots ahead of Ohio State. If the playoff were determined by this preseason poll, Alabama would play Wisconsin and Clemson would face Georgia. Washington would be the first team out. The Huskies coming in at No. 5 likely means a good number of voters believe Washington will open the season with a win against Auburn in Atlanta in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game as well, and that would certainly create a playoff-or-bust season for Washington out of the gates.

One team that has received some good offseason buzz that failed to crack the Super 16 was West Virginia. A trendy pick in the Big 12 for some, the Mountaineers were the first team out of this particular preseason poll.

No Group of Five programs made the Super 16 cut, although UCF, Boise State, and San Diego State all received at least one point in the voting.

Here is how the preseason Super 16 poll breaks down:

  1. Alabama (36 first-place votes)
  2. Clemson (14)
  3. Georgia
  4. Wisconsin
  5. Washington
  6. Ohio State
  7. Oklahoma
  8. Miami
  9. Auburn
  10. Penn State
  11. Michigan State (1)
  12. Notre Dame
  13. Michigan
  14. Stanford
  15. USC
  16. TCU

In the interest of full disclosure, three College Football Talk contributors are voting members in the Super 16 Poll; myself, Bryan Fischer and Zach Barnett). The poll is made up of members of the FWAA and College Football Hall of Famers with an emphasis on geographic balance. New polls will be updated every Monday this season, with the exception of the post-Week 1 poll, which will be released on Tuesday, September 4.