Kevin King disputed the assertion that his words were not genuine.
Asked if the undefeated Washington Huskies derived motivation from their No. 5 standing in the initial College Football Playoff rankings, King smiled and replied: “It’s a lot more ball to be played.”
OK. But isn’t that just the company line?
“Nah,” the senior defensive back said. “That’s the truth. There’s a lot more ball to be played. It’s the first game of November. At the end of November, we can have this talk again. But right now, it’s a lot more ball to be played.”
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Whether or not you believe that King and his UW teammates are taking such a level-headed, big-picture view of their CFP ranking — many assumed the Huskies would debut at No. 4 — the result of Saturday’s game at California did not indicate any change to their mental approach.
The Huskies (9-0, 6-0 Pac-12) dispatched of Cal with remarkable efficiency, winning 66-27 in a game that featured several offensive records and was never close in the second half.
Regardless of how they might currently feel about the CFP committee, these looked like the same old Huskies on Saturday night. Sophomore quarterback Jake Browning threw six touchdown passes, three each to John Ross and Dante Pettis, and now holds the UW record for touchdown passes in a single season with 34. Star cornerback Sidney Jones had two interceptions. Ross and Pettis were open all night as the Huskies savaged Cal’s woeful defense for 704 yards of total offense, second-most in program history and most ever against a Pac-12 opponent.
In other words: the team with the nation’s No. 2 scoring offense and No. 11 scoring defense did what it should have against a mediocre opponent. And then some.
“That’s the thing about our team,” King said. “We want to go out there every game and show the world that it’s not a fluke. It doesn’t matter if we were ranked No. 1 in the playoff committee. We would go out here and play the same way. … It’s not a fluke, it’s the real deal.”
Washington will have a better chance to prove itself next week against the USC Trojans (6-3, 4-2), who have won five consecutive games after beginning the season 1-3. The game, scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Husky Stadium, is of a big enough magnitude that ESPN’s famed “College GameDay” preview show will broadcast live from the UW campus on Saturday morning.
There is seemingly little more the Huskies can do — weak nonconference schedule aside — to convince the nation of their credentials as a playoff-worthy team. They now rank third nationally in yards per play (7.68), 11th nationally in yards per play allowed (4.62), lead the country in passing efficiency (205.7) and rank sixth in yards per rush (5.92), and have won seven of their nine games by 24 or more points.
The new CFP rankings will be announced on Tuesday, as they will be each week until the final ranking — the one that actually matters — is unveiled Dec. 4. Texas A&M, the previous No. 4 team, lost at Mississippi State on Saturday, meaning the Huskies put themselves in good shape to leap into the Aggies’ spot.
But speculation has already begun that Ohio State, which debuted at No. 6, could move past UW by virtue of its 62-3 victory over No. 9 Nebraska. The Buckeyes, like Texas A&M, have one loss.
None of which seems to matter to the Huskies. Not yet, anyway.
“There’s a lot of football left to play,” said Browning, who is now tied for the national lead in touchdown passes (34). “Put us outside the top four. Make us earn it. I think it’s good.”
No. 4 UW 66, California 27
Cal—FG M.Anderson 43, 11:43
UW—Ross 60 pass from Browning (Van Winkle kick), 10:11
Cal—FG M.Anderson 30, 5:54
UW—Daniels 39 pass from Pettis (Van Winkle kick), 4:26
UW—Ross 67 pass from Browning (Van Winkle kick), 2:17
Cal—Webb 3 run (M.Anderson kick), :00
Cal—Hansen 14 pass from Webb (M.Anderson kick), 9:01
UW—Ross 6 pass from Browning (Van Winkle kick), 6:02
UW—Pettis 1 pass from Browning (Van Winkle kick), 1:15
UW—Pettis 17 pass from Browning (Van Winkle kick), 12:27
UW—Gaskin 2 run (Van Winkle kick), 9:25
UW—Pettis 32 pass from Browning (Van Winkle kick), 7:41
UW—FG Van Winkle 36, 12:58
Cal—Laird 6 run (M.Anderson kick), 9:59
UW—Coleman 49 run (Van Winkle kick), 8:19
Time of Possession
RUSHING—UW, Coleman 7-108, Gaskin 16-74, Dotson 8-35, McClatcher 4-31, Ross 1-18, Browning 7-14, Carta-Samuels 1-7. Cal, Muhammad 8-34, Watson 10-29, Laird 4-23, McCrary 3-20, Webb 2-(-6).
PASSING—UW, Browning 19-28-0-378, Pettis 1-1-0-39. Cal, Webb 23-47-3-262.
RECEIVING—UW, Pettis 8-104, Ross 6-208, Gaskin 2-4, Daniels 1-39, Sample 1-32, McClatcher 1-17, Pounds 1-13. Cal, Hansen 5-70, Rivera 5-37, Robertson 3-82, Hudson 2-19, Wharton 2-15, Veasy 1-15, Stovall 1-10, Singleton 1-9, Worstell 1-3, Laird 1-2, Watson 1-0.