Washington was full of answers Saturday night.
Without preseason All-American Austin Seferian-Jenkins, what would happen? How would the Huskies handle the hype and heat from opening the renovated stadium? Which version of Keith Price would show up.
Powerful and affirmative showings put those questions to rest during Washington’s 38-6 shellacking of 19th-ranked Boise State in front of a crowd of 71,963 on a postcard-worthy evening on Montlake.
“Proud of our kids’ focus,” Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said. “Our guys performed.”
Such a pounding of the Broncos is almost unheard of. The last time they lost by double-digits was Nov. 23, 2007, when Boise State was beaten, 39-27, by Hawaii. The last time the Broncos were blown out was Sept. 3, 2005, when Georgia whacked them, 48-13.
It was the worse loss for Boise State coach Chris Petersen since he took over in 2006.
Price was on point almost all night. He finished 23-for-31 for 324 yards and two touchdowns. It was the third 300-yard-plus passing game in his career. And he took over Washington’s career record for touchdown passes when he threw his 56th to pass Cody Pickett.
“It was good running around and getting back to the old me,” Price said.
Kasen Williams caught a touchdown. Bishop Sankey scored and ran for 161 yards. Joshua Perkins got into the end zone as did redshirt freshman running back Dwayne Washington.
In all, it was a night of the Huskies having their cake and eating it, then going back for seconds.
Boise State took the opening possession of the second half to the brink. Washington linebacker Travis Feeney stuffed back Jay Ajayi on second-and-goal from the 2-yard line before Marcus Peters broke up a third-down pass.
Dan Goodale hit a 20-yard field goal, his second make of the day, to pull Boise State to 10-6 with 9:37 to go in the first half.
The anxiety of a four-point lead didn’t last because Washington strung together 28 straight points. Price hit Williams for a 38-yard gain, then again on the next play for a 19-yard touchdown. The passing touchdown was Price’s 55th, tying him with Pickett.
For Williams, it was an awakening. He had just one catch in the first half before those consecutive receptions spearheaded a drive that took just 1 minute, 37 seconds.
Linebacker Shaq Thompson filled a hole on fourth-and-1 at the Washington 35-yard line to shove Ajayi into reverse. The crowd roared, UW took over and began to push the game further from Boise State’s reach.
Price rolled left and zipped a pass back to his right while on the move. Bang. Into the hands of Perkins, who started the game at tight end in place of the suspended Seferian-Jenkins, for an 18-yard touchdown.
Sarkisian said Seferian-Jenkins was suspended from the game for disciplinary reasons. The preseason All-American tight end will play against Illinois on Sept. 14 in Chicago.
The strike to Perkins elevated Price to No. 1 in Washington history in passing touchdowns. His 56th career touchdown came in his 858th pass attempt. Pickett needed 1,329 attempts from 1999-2003 to reach 55.
The first half was frantic.
Price’s first throw of the year was a harrowing reminder of last season. He looked right and nowhere else, then threw to well-covered receiver. His first pass became his first interception. He finished the Las Vegas Bowl with an interception, too.
“I said goodness, I can’t get a break,” Price said. “The last pass of the season then the first pass of the season.”
His rebound was rapid.
Price was 16-for-23 by halftime, with four of those incompletions coming when he chose to throw the ball away. The redshirt senior was in charge throughout the half, leading scoring drives of 16 plays and 84 yards, which ended with a Sankey 1-yard touchdown, and 13 plays for 63 yards, capped by a 37-yard field goal from Travis Coons.
Sankey carried 25 times for his 161 yards.
Price and Co. also put together another drive that pushed down to the Boise State 10-yard line. Face with 4th-and-1, there was no discussion about the decision. Washington promptly snapped the ball.
Backup running back Washington was stuffed for a loss of 2 yards. That helped Boise State level off a game in which it was getting pushed around.
The Huskies outgained the Broncos 313-165 in the first half. After averaging 355 yards and 69 plays per game last season, Washington had 313 yards on 52 plays in the first half.
Yet, it held a mere 10-3 lead.
“I was a little disheartened we walked off the field with only 10 points,” Sarkisian said.
A second-half steamrolling made that concern moot.