Sixth-ranked UW is back at its digs Saturday to close out the non-conference schedule against Fresno State.
There was a time the Bulldogs were very competitive against Pac-12 programs, registering a win against every school except Stanford.
That won’t happen Saturday.
Offensively, the Huskies took a nice jump forward last week in a 63-7 win over Montana. Quarterback Jake Browning was not sacked, and except for an early interception, he was fully efficient with his throws.
Rutgers had bulk. Montana had speed. And Fresno State is a combination of those two teams, in terms of style and pace.
Here are three intriguing matchups heading into the UW-Fresno State game:
1. Huskies RB Lavon Coleman vs. Fresno State MLB Jeffrey Allison
Old Freight Train, meet New Freight Train.
After getting just three carries against the Grizzlies, expect Coleman, the fifth-year senior, to see the football a little more Saturday.
When that happens, it could be quite a head-to-head collision with Allison, a rising star in the Mountain West Conference as a sophomore.
Allison had a career-high 14 tackles, including a sack, last week against No. 1 Alabama. The Bulldogs will move him all around the line of scrimmage to exploit matchups. At 6 feet, 250 pounds, he has both the speed and strength to make impact plays.
2. Huskies CBs Byron Murphy and Jordan Miller vs. Fresno State WRs KeeSean Johnson and Jamire Jordan
This will easily be the Huskies’ toughest test defending pass-catchers on the perimeter so far this season.
Johnson is on the Biletnikoff Award watch list for 2017. He is Fresno State’s top receiver, having caught a pass in 24 consecutive games. He has a team-high 15 receptions for 175 yards in two games.
All Jordan does is catch passes for big chunks of yardage. One out of every five receptions Jordan has goes for 20 or more yards – with eight career catches of 40 yards, and five of 50 yards. He is averaging 23.7 yards per catch this season.
The Huskies secondary has allowed just one touchdown this season – on Rutgers’ opening drive to start the season. Murphy has two interceptions, and Miller has been close on getting his first one.
3. Huskies PR Dante Pettis vs. Fresno State punter Blake Cusick
Can Pettis make it three games in a row with a punt return for a score?
So far, Pettis, the senior out of California, has been nothing short of electrifying, returning a punt 61 yards for a touchdown against Rutgers, and 67 yards last week against Montana.
Cusick and the Bulldogs have been one of the best in the country and special-teams coverage. Cusick is averaging 42.2 yards per punt, good for 40th in FBS. His punts also regularly have considerable hang time.
Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford spent last season around the UW offense as a consultant. He knows how dangerous Pettis is with the football in his hands. It would be surprising if he is allowed to even set up for a return in the game Saturday.