As disappointing as this season has been for the Washington Huskies, they will at least have a chance to play in a bowl game.
And they clinched that distinction in victory formation. No chart necessary.
They made sure of that on Saturday night at Husky Stadium against the Oregon State Beavers, scoring four touchdowns on plays of 36 yards or more while running to a 37-13 victory before a generously announced crowd of 65,036.
The win improves UW’s record to 7-5 (3-5 in Pac-12 play), and assures the Huskies will finish the regular season with an above-.500 record for the fourth consecutive year. They travel to Pullman next week for the annual Apple Cup game against Washington State.
And while this performance could have been better — the Huskies continued to sputter in the red zone — it was more than good enough to beat the Beavers, who looked nothing like the team that upset Arizona State one week ago.
In fact, this game began pretty much where the Huskies left off against OSU last season, when Washington ran wild in a 69-27 victory in Corvallis. On Saturday, the Huskies scored touchdowns on their first two possessions — a 54-yard pass from Cyler Miles to Jaydon Mickens and a 68-yard run by Dwayne Washington — and Cameron Van Winkle kicked a 34-yard field goal to cap UW’s third series and give the Huskies a 17-0 lead.
They could have really piled on, had they stopped OSU on a third-and-25 from the Beavers’ 5-yard line with a little more than five minutes left in the first half. But quarterback Sean Mannion play-faked, then completed a 72-yard pass to Victor Bolden to move OSU out of the danger zone.
Mannion threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Villamin five plays later.
Again in the second half, the Huskies had chances to create meaningful separation. Junior linebacker Travis Feeney intercepted a Mannion pass and returned it 54 yards to OSU’s 29-yard line, but the Huskies couldn’t pick up a first down and had to settle for a field goal.
After the Huskies’ defense forced one of their five three-and-outs, the offense drove to OSU’s 8-yard line before stalling yet again, settling for a 26-yard field goal to take a 23-7 lead with 4:56 left in the third quarter.
The Beavers (5-6, 2-6) got on the board again thanks to Washington’s fumble at UW’s 29-yard line, a mistake that led to an 11-yard touchdown pass from Mannion to Villamin to trim the Huskies’ lead to 23-13 after OSU missed the two-point conversion try.
But a 38-yard kickoff return by John Ross III gave the Huskies quality field position with which to begin their next series, which ended with a 36-yard touchdown run by Mickens on a fly-sweep handoff.
That made it 30-13, and OSU didn’t threaten after that. Miles tacked on a 68-yard touchdown pass to sophomore tight end Darrell Daniels with 7:17 to play to account for UW’s final score.
Miles was efficient, completing 18 of 23 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns, and he did not commit a turnover one week after losing two fumbles. Washington led the Huskies in rushing with 14 carries for 100 yards.
The Beavers finished with 361 total yards, with 118 of those coming on two long passes by Mannion, who finished 30 of 46 for 314 yards. UW sacked the OSU quarterback four times — one each by UW career sacks leader Hau’oli Kikaha and Joe Mathis, and two by fifth-year senior Andrew Hudson.
The Huskies gained 481 total yards on 59 plays, one week after tallying 504 at Arizona.