With Washington’s hopes of defending its 2016 Pac-12 championship already squashed, the Huskies simply wanted to play the role of spoiler against rival Washington State in Saturday’s Apple Cup.
Four takeaways and a monster night for running back Myles Gaskin later, the Huskies had spoiled plenty for the Cougs – in emphatic fashion.
Washington won its fifth straight Apple Cup, turning an early lead into a 41-14 victory at Husky Stadium over WSU. Gaskin led the way with a four-touchdown effort to go with 192 rushing yards.
WSU entered the game not only needing just a win to clinch the Pac-12 North Division and a berth in next week’s conference championship game, but an outside shot at sneaking into the College Football Playoff as the No. 13 team in the CFP rankings. The door closed on all of those dreams with the loss to the Huskies.
Washington never trailed, opening the game with an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown capped off by a 2-yard Gaskin run.
In his third and final Apple Cup quarterbacking the Cougars, Luke Falk struggled again against Washington’s suffocating defense. He finished 37-for-55 passing for 369 yards, but the story of the game was his three interceptions – two in the first half – and a lost fumble. Constantly under pressure, Falk was also sacked five times.
Washington State’s defense, drastically improved from 2016, gave up 30 points for the fourth time this season. It also lost star defensive end Hercules Mata’afa, who was ejected in the third quarter on a targeting call for a hit on Washington quarterback Jake Browning. That will keep Mata’afa out of the first half of WSU’s bowl game.
Browning had a low-key game, completing 11 of 17 passes for 93 yards. The running attack took care of business for Washington’s offense, however, with Salvon Ahmed contributing 82 yards on nine carries in addition to Gaskin’s big performance.
Star wide receiver Dante Pettis left the game due to injury in the first half, though Washington coach Chris Petersen said after the game on the FOX Sports broadcast that it is believed Pettis and running back Lavon Coleman, who also exited the game due to injury, just had ankle sprains.
Petersen is now 4-0 against Mike Leach and Washington State since taking Washington’s head coaching position prior to the 2014 season. Leach is 1-5 career against the Huskies.
With UW’s win, Stanford clinched the Pac-12 North. The Cardinal will play USC on Friday for the conference championship.