Just nine days from the final game of the season, let’s take a look back through the schedule to see how the Huskies landed at 7-5 and in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Washington heads to its third consecutive bowl game under Steve Sarkisian, but it’s also the least prestigious of the three. Should they lose, the Huskies will finish 7-6 for the third straight year under Sarkisian. If Washington beats the Broncos, the Huskies will hit the magic eight-win mark. That changes the dialogue significantly. It would be Sarkisian’s best mark and the best since the 2001 season when the Huskies went 8-4 under Rick Neuheisel.
That discussion is for later.
Washington 21, San Diego State 12
The 21-12 win over San Diego State looks all the better now that the Aztecs finished 9-3 following a seven-game winning streak to close the season. San Diego State will play BYU in the Poinsettia Bowl Dec. 20. Keith Price was 25-for-35 in that game, and Bishop Sankey ran for just 66 yards. At the time, that seemed how the season would go, though Price was expected to perform even better. Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught nine passes, starting a run that would continue throughout the season. Safety Will Shamburger, whose playing time would disappear as the season wore on, scored on a 44-yard fumble return. Sankey’s 2-yard touchdown produced the first points of the season.
LSU 41, Washington 3
The first test of the season resulted in a whooping for Washington down in Baton Rouge. Interesting postgame quotes came from Price and Sarkisian, words that would point to what was to come the rest of the year.
“I felt the pressure and tried to get out a couple times, and you see I threw a pick trying to do too much,” Price said. “We didn’t throw the ball well and we didn’t run the ball well.”
“That’s when they can lean on you in the running game and wear you down, and then start rushing the passer, which they do so well,” Sarkisian said at the time of LSU having the lead. “We have to try to find our identity offensively, what we’re going to be on the offensive side of the ball so that we can find some continuity as a unit. Obviously it was tough for us to get that tonight.”
LSU finished with two losses by a total of 12 points at Florida and to Alabama.
Washington 52, Portland State 13
We won’t spend much time here. Washington rightly mopped up an FCS opponent during its only break in the early schedule.
Washington 17, Stanford 13
With the year over, this may be the most surprising result. The Huskies played the tough, smashing game Stanford prefers, and won. They were also helped by an ineffective performance by then-Stanford quarterback Josh Nunes, who was 18-for-37. Kasen Williams’ late touchdown put Washington up and Desmond Trufant’s interception about sealed it. Trufant was on 6-foot-8 Stanford tight end Levine Toilolo for the pick, which produced one of the biggest plays of the season, plus one of the best quotes. When informed Toilolo had an eight-inch height advantage, Trufant briefly laughed.
“I was 8 inches shorter?” Trufant said.
Oregon 52, Washington 21
This was brutal. Washington walked into Autzen Stadium and was blown out. It was also the start of Price’s turnover problems. He threw two interceptions and the Huskies turned the ball over five times. Oregon led 21-0 at the end of the first quarter and 35-7 at the half. Seferian-Jenkins suffered the ankle injury that would nag him the rest of the season. Oregon’s nine-game winning streak against Washington is the longest by either side in the history of the series.
USC 24, Washington 14
This is a game the Huskies would like to have back. Trufant locked up Marqise Lee, who finished fourth in Heisman Trophy voting, and the Trojans were shut out in the second half. But, Price threw two more interceptions, USC scored on a blocked punt and the Huskies fumbled two other times. Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley had his worst game of the year, going just 10-for-20 for just 167 yards.
Midway through the season, Washington was 3-3 and things were about to get worse.