Colorado vs. Washington: Score and Reaction from 2016 Pac-12 Championship
The No. 4 Washington Huskies were the class of the Pac-12 all season long, and they reaffirmed their status as the West Coast’s top team Friday night when they dispatched the No. 8 Colorado Buffaloes 41-10at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California,to capture the program’s firstconference title since 2000.
By virtue of the win, the Huskies are in prime position to lock up a College Football Playoff berth Sunday when the final rankings are revealed.
And as USA Today’s Dan Wolken explained, Washington should be competitive regardless of who its CFP opponentis thanks to the man calling the shots:
Facing Chris Petersen with a month to prepare is the biggest nightmare in coaching
Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) December 3, 2016
Colorado’s offense was largely stymied by the Washington defense in the rout, and it didn’t help that quarterback Sefo Liufaumissed all but one series in the first half after he suffered an apparent right ankle injury on the Buffaloes’ first possession of the game.
Liufaureturned in the second half, but the Huskies’ sterling secondary limited him to 21yards passing all game. And he finished with threeinterceptions.
However, Washington’s passing game didn’t fare much better despite the lopsided result.Heisman Trophy contender Jake Browning completed nine of 24passes for 118yards and twoscores, and he looked shaky in the pocket all night long.
Matched up against a robust Colorado secondary that was allowinga Pac-12 best 187.8 passing yards per game, Browning had trouble trying to stretch the field. His deep balls were wobbly and underthrown, and Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller and NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah both took note of the rising star’s struggles:
Y’all laugh about hand size, but I wonder if Browning struggles with grip the way some of these passes move.
Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) December 3, 2016The ball doesn’t come out very pretty for Browning.
Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) December 3, 2016
But even through Browning was limited to fourcompletions for 38yardsincluding a15-yard touchdown pass to Darrell Danielsin the first half, Washington’s running game piled up yards aplenty behind Myles Gaskin (29carries for 159yards) and Lavon Coleman (18carries for 101 yards and one touchdown).
Both tough runners ripped off chunks of yards before contact because of stellar blocking up front, and their stylings set the tone for a Huskies offense that leaned on the ground game to move the chains.
Colorado was able to hang tough for a bit after Liufau briefly exited because of backup Steven Montez’s poise, but yards didn’t come quite as easily for the Buffaloes after they knotted the score at seven in the first quarter.
Nevertheless, Colorado entered halftime down only a touchdown since the Huskies weren’t able to rip off explosive plays downfield.
Liufau returned to action in the third quarter and figured to offer some hope, but his first play back under center resulted in an interception Taylor Rapp returned 35 yards to the house:
With Washington up two scores, College Football Talk’s Bryan Fischer explained that the Huskies’10th-ranked scoring defense remains one of the nation’s most dangerous despite some injury woes:
Washingtons defense, even as banged up as they are right now, is still so legit.
Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) December 3, 2016
Liufau’s night didn’t get any easier from that point forward.
Rapp picked off the senior again on Colorado’s next series, and the turnover issues were glaring considering Liufautossed a total of three interceptions during the Buffaloes’ regular-season slate.
At that point, the Huskies could smell a playoff berth.
A field goal put the Dawgs up 24-7, and their defense started to swarm with Colorado resigned to throwing on a majority of its snaps from that point forward.
As if that weren’t enough, it became clear the Huskies were playing with house money when Browning tossed an errant pass under pressure that wide receiver John Ross snatched out of thin air and ran in for a dagger score:
With the Pac-12 title in tow, the Huskies should be feeling good about their College Football Playoff chances.
While a loss would have opened the door for the Michigan Wolverines or the Big Ten champion to sneak in and swap spots, the one-loss Huskies shouldn’t be in danger of moving outside of the Top Four with Michigan idle Saturday.
The question now revolves around where Washington will land when the selection committee releases its final CFP rankings.
Although the Ohio State Buckeyes are slotted in at No. 2, the fact they’re not playing in the Big Ten title game following last Saturday’s win over the Wolverines means the Huskies could jump up a spot since they have a conference title to their name.
And based on the convincing fashion in which they slammed the door on Colorado, it would be hard to argue against a leap up to the No. 3 spot as the committee begins to ramp up the deliberation process.
Christian Caple of theTacoma News Tribune snapped video of Rapp accepting Pac-12 title game MVP honors:
Taylor Rapp accepts Pac-12 championship MVP trophy. pic.twitter.com/KgTiA6nucJ
Christian Caple (@ChristianCaple) December 3, 2016
Later, Washington’s official Twitter account relayed footage of the team’s confetti-clad celebration:
#Pac12FCG Champions. #PurpleReign pic.twitter.com/x4XM0GZbfr
UW Football (@UW_Football) December 3, 2016
When asked if the Huskies belong in the playoff, head coach Chris Petersen was adamant his squad deserves a spot.
“I think there’s no doubt about that,” he said, per ESPN.com’s Kyle Bonagura.
On Colorado’s end, co-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini and wide receiver Bryce Bobo both tweeted messages following the for more information loss:
I want to say thank you to our fans and Buff nation! Not the result we all wanted but very proud of our team! We will fight back! #TheRise
Darrin Chiaverini (@CoachChev6) December 3, 2016I just wanna say sorry to Buff Nation. I wasn’t healthy enough to play at an elite level like I do and didn’t make plays. Again I’m sorry.
Bryce Bobo (@b_nice4) December 3, 2016
“We just didn’t perform tonight,” Liufau said, per ESPN.com’s David Lombardi.
But despite the quarterback’s disappointment, head coachMike MacIntyre was thrilled with the season his team put together.
“I couldn’t be any prouder of them,” he said, per the Denver Post’s Nick Kosmider.”They brought the Folsom magic back. We’ll bounce back.”