SEATTLE (AP) — Chris Petersen thought he’d make it through his pregame speech the night before the final home game for Washington’s seniors. Then he looked at quarterback Jake Browning, and Petersen’s words trailed off.
“There’s no one that’s spent more time in this office since the moment he got here,” Petersen said. “It’s exactly how it’s supposed to be and he’s a rare individual in terms of never flinching, always the same, always prepping as hard as he possibly can, completely locked in at all times. It’s hard to do for anybody let alone a college kid going through this process. (It’s) really special.”
Browning provided one more memory for Petersen and his teammates in his final home game, throwing three first-half touchdowns in No. 17 Washington’s 42-23 win over Oregon State on Saturday.
Browning threw two of his three TDs in the first quarter as Washington jumped to a 28-3 lead. Fellow senior Myles Gaskin rushed for 135 yards and the Huskies (8-3, 6-2 Pac-12) used the fast start to make certain next week’s Apple Cup against No. 8 Washington State carried all the meaning it possibly could.
The meeting against the Cougars will be a winner-take-all matchup for the Pac-12 North Division title. The winner of the 111th matchup will play in the conference title game with a Rose Bowl berth at stake.
“There’s a lot on the line,” Browning said about the Apple Cup. “But I think more it’s a quick turnaround. I think whatever team can adjust to that quick turnaround better, that’s an advantage.
The Huskies dominated Oregon State (2-9, 1-7) early then coasted the final three quarters. After getting a week off, Washington 28-point first quarter tied a school record last accomplished in the 2016 Apple Cup against Washington State. Salvon Ahmed rushed for a pair of short touchdowns and Browning took advantage of his chances. He hit Aaron Fuller on a 17-yard TD after Oregon State fumbled a kickoff, and he later hit tight end Cade Otton on a 21-yard touchdown.
Browning finished 17 of 23 for 242 yards and a 205.3 passer rating, but was still playing early in the fourth quarter and took some unneeded shots as Washington’s protection broke down. He finished his career with 55 touchdown passes at Husky Stadium.
“I don’t really care what people were hoping for this whole season. Every team is undefeated at the beginning of the season. Everybody beats the crap out of each other in the Pac-12,” Browning said. “It’s who can absorb the blows, and just keep battling, because there’s plenty of teams that, like us, had high expectations for their season, and haven’t been able to absorb the blows and keep battling.”
Gaskin had 135 yards rushing, but it was a disappointing total after the way he started. Gaskin had 101 yards after just three carries —including a 64-yard burst on the third play of the game to set up Washington’s first touchdown. He finished the first half with 107 yards rushing, but his only time finding the end zone came on a 10-yard pass from Browning late in the half. Gaskin added a rushing touchdown in the third quarter on a 6-yard run one play after a punt by Washington hit an Oregon State blocker and was recovered by the Huskies.
Gaskin still needs 94 yards rushing to become the first player in Pac-12 history with four 1,000-yard seasons.
Oregon State freshman Jermar Jefferson continued his outstanding first season rushing for 115 yards and Jake Luton threw for 190 and a 3-yard touchdown to Isaiah Hodgins. Jordan Choukair hit field goals of 47, 35 and 44 yards, but the Beavers had two key turnovers on special teams.
“We’re going to go into every game feeling like we’re going to play better in the first quarter,” Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith said. “I do feel like these guys are preparing. And we’re running into some good teams too that are well-prepared.”
Oregon State: If the Beavers are going to be competitive in the Pac-12 North their run defense must improve. Washington became the eighth team this season to rush for at least 200 yards against the Oregon State defense. Every team this season has rushed for at least 100 yards against the Beavers.
Washington: Chris Petersen won’t be pleased with special teams mistakes that included an onside kick recovered by Oregon State and a punt that was blocked in the fourth quarter. The Huskies got away with those mistakes against Oregon State, but they won’t against better opponents.
Preseason all-American left tackle Trey Adams was in uniform for the first time since October 2017. Adams entered on Washington’s first possession of the second quarter and played sparingly the rest of the way. Adams torn his ACL midway through last season in a loss to Arizona State and suffered a back injury in the week leading into the season opener against Auburn. He recently announced via social media his intent to return for a fifth season in 2019. He can play in any of Washington’s remaining games and not affect his eligibility to return next year.
Smith was back on the field where he served as Washington’s offensive coordinator the previous four seasons. Washington linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven thought Smith’s familiarity helped Oregon State’s offense.
“We knew the fact he was going to have some stuff up his sleeve,” Burr-Kirven said.
Oregon State: The Beavers host Oregon in the Civil War next Friday.
Washington: The Huskies face No. 8 Washington State in the Apple Cup next Friday.
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