Washington honored the players who won the 1991 national championship team at halftime Friday night. They ambled out on the FieldTurf at Husky Stadium, 65 middle-aged men who looked nothing like a No. 1 team.
The 10th-ranked guys in purple who embarrassed No. 7 Stanford, 44-6, however, might have something to say about the College Football Playoff.
Do not refresh this page -- that score is correct, the largest margin of victory over a top-10 team in Washington history. It reflects the complete dominance that the Huskies exerted over the Cardinal on both sides of the line, in the kicking game, in time of possession and every other way you can measure two teams on the same field.
"That was special," Washington head coach Chris Petersen said. "I'm really proud of how hard they played, how good they played. We're still a work in progress, but that was a good step forward."
You could say that. Washington scored quick and scored slow. The Huskies gained two yards (424) for every one they allowed (213). They held Stanford junior Christian McCaffrey to 49 yards on 12 carries, and it might have been the best 49-yard game in the history of Heisman candidates. When the Stanford offensive line wasn't busy not opening holes for McCaffrey, they were giving up eight sacks of Ryan Burns (six) and Keller Chryst (two).
McCaffrey being McCaffrey, he still finished with 223 all-purpose yards. But if you keep returning kickoffs, that means the other team is scoring. McCaffrey returned a total of three kickoffs in Stanford's first three games. He returned five Friday night for 144 yards, including a 57-yarder.
"Those kids were playing really inspired ball by the energy in that stadium," Petersen said of his team. "They were excited to play Stanford, but it hasn't been like that since I've been here (three seasons)."
This was Husky Stadium from the glory years, the noise bouncing off the metal overhangs on each grandstand and sounding like the Boeing jets for which this area is known.
"I mean, it's been loud," said Washington junior safety Budda Baker, who grew up in nearby Bellevue, "but that was some other type of loud. That was Seahawks-type loud."
The crowd of 72,027, the biggest since Washington opened the renovated stadium three years ago, reveled in the Huskies' dominance, a callback to this program's glory days in the early 1990s.
Hey, anyone can have a bad quarter-century. Washington did have that Rose Bowl season in 2000, when the Huskies finished No. 3. What followed was a steady slide into oblivion, bottoming out with an 0-12 record in 2008. Steve Sarkisian returned the Huskies to respectability before he bolted for USC after five seasons.
And now, in his third season on Montlake, Petersen has built a team that looks a lot like his Boise State teams, the ones that went 92-12 (.885) and won two BCS bowls in eight seasons.
"I think these guys, our team, has a lot to 'em," Petersen said. "Those are the flashes we've been seeing, feeling for a long time. It's nice when it all kind of comes together at home in this environment. I think it was really cool that the '91 team was here."
Stanford endured a complete meltdown. The Cardinal made glaring physical and mental mistakes in all three phases of the game, and it didn't help that Stanford lost four starters to injury last week.
"Well, that was about as poorly as we could play from start to finish," Stanford coach David Shaw said.
Like having to call timeout on fourth down during two possessions in Huskies territory because Burns couldn't get the play off.
Like Stanford left tackle A.T. Hall, perhaps not hearing the snap count, never coming out of his stance as defensive end Joe Mathis ran around him and smashed into Burns.
Like Huskies wide receiver John Ross racing through the depleted Cardinal secondary unimpeded, except for the two plays on which Stanford interfered with him. Ross made four catches for 82 yards and caught one of Jake Browning's three touchdowns. Both Cardinal starting cornerbacks missed the game because of injury, and Ross, the junior with 4.3 speed, kept plenty of space between him and the guys who could play.
Like finally forcing a Washington punt in the third quarter, which hit Stanford blocker Ben Edwards in the back, allowing the Huskies' Lavon Coleman to recover it at the Stanford 40. Washington scored five plays later to go ahead 30-0.
Washington even won the coin toss.
"Honestly, it's still kind of sinking in," said defensive tackle Elijah Qualls, who made five tackles. "I've definitely never been on the field when the crowd rushed it, so that was kind of interesting. I almost got run over."
The fans tumbled onto the turf to celebrate knocking off the team that has won three of the past four Pac-12 titles. Washington has seven regular-season games left, beginning next week with a visit to historic rival Oregon. The Huskies leave this game in charge of the Pac-12 North, but Petersen doesn't want to hear anything about this performance announcing the arrival of an old power. He is leaving Saturday morning to recruit. It is back to business as usual. It has to be.
"We're not there," Petersen said. "I'm not saying we're there. I know how this thing goes. You sleep on anybody, feeling like we got it, we got it figured out. I know what comes next."
Not if the Huskies play as they did Friday night. They looked like the Huskies of old.
Source : http://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/17681922/washington-huskies-make-loud-statement-routing-stanford-cardinal