We’ll discuss Stanford in a moment. Yes, the Cardinal looked mostly awful in the 44–6 loss. But remember that this Stanford team already beat Kansas State and UCLA (on the road.) They’re proven and they’ll be OK.
Partially they’ll be OK because they don’t have to play Washington again. What UW did Friday night was all about the Huskies and how good they are. It’s not just the defense, which came into the game allowing just 320 yards per game. Matching up with Stanford’s brutish line was expected; handling them was not. Washington recorded a stunning eight sacks, six in the first half. But the offense was eye-popping: 424 yards, six trips in the red zone and numerous occasions where Huskies skipped through a once-proud Stanford defense.
In big moments, teams not used to pressure (like UW) implode—that’s sort of what happened last year when Oregon came to town and everyone was thinking UW could finally break the Ducks’ 11-game win streak. Friday night against the Cardinal, UW played like the favorite, acted like the team everyone’s been talking about since spring. UW fans have been waiting 16 years for a return to college football’s upper echelon. The only thing sweeter than thumping Stanford in Husky Stadium? That will come next week, when a Husky team oozing confidence travels to Autzen Stadium to take on the Ducks. This time, expect the streak to end.
Meet Jake Browning, your new Pac-12 Heisman favorite
By now you have likely heard of Christian McCaffrey, Stanford’s do-everything back who racked up incredible numbers in 2015 (3,864 all-purpose yards) but did not win the Heisman. This season was supposed to be when he made everyone look foolish for not voting him the winner last year. Instead, people who stayed up late back east to watch Friday met a new Heisman favorite, and his name is Jake Browning.
Yes, the UW quarterback got help from a beat up Cardinal secondary that was missing three starters. His line gave him oodles of time to pick his receiver of choice. But credit to the sophomore Browning, who connected on 15-of-21 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns, and dropped perfectly-placed balls in the hands of his receivers (favorite Friday target: John Ross, who caught four balls for 82 yards and one touchdown.) Washington has won its last nine games dating back to last season and in that stretch, Browning has completed 72% of his passes (137-of-190) for 1,812 yards and 21 touchdowns while throwing just three picks. Expect to hear his name a lot in the coming weeks.
Stanford lines have big problems
You can blame some Washington’s big offensive numbers Friday night on a beat up Cardinal secondary but there’s no excuse on the defensive line which has one of the best ends in the country in Solomon Thomas. Stanford recorded no sacks, let alone tackles for loss. They could barely identify Browning, let alone pressure him. And the offensive line was atrocious, allowing eight sacks and failing to open up holes for McCaffrey, who finished with 49 yards on 12 carries. (Keep in mind, McCaffrey is so good he needs barely a sliver of daylight. He saw nothing but dark purple Friday night.) For years, Stanford has prided itself on being bigger, stronger and more physical than its opponents. On the sideline, Stanford players wore shirts with the phrase, “The home of INTELLECTUAL BRUTALITY” on the back. Friday night, they just looked brutally beat down.