Washington’s path to a playoff spot is clear after its drubbing of Washington State

Washington captures Pac-12 North title with win over Washington State
0:45 | College Football

A highly anticipated matchup between in-state rivals Washington and Washington State was far less competitive than expected. The Huskies bludgeoned the Cougars on their home turf, racking up 512 total yards and six touchdowns in a 45–17 rout. The win clinches the Pac-12 North Division for Washington, and it will face either USC or Colorado in the conference title game next week. Here are three thoughts on what unfolded at Martin Stadium:

1. Washington got off to a great start

Washington wasted little time in demonstrating why it is considered one of the best teams in the country. The Huskies scored touchdowns on their first four drives, including consecutive passing scores from quarterback Jake Browning to wide receiver Dante Pettis, and limited the Cougars to only three points over their first five sequences. Browning picked apart Washington State’s pass defense, and the Huskies shut down star quarterback Luke Falk and the Cougars’ high-octane attack. Through the first quarter, Washington was averaging 11.4 yards per play compared to 4.9 for Washington State, and the Huskies had recorded nine first downs compared to two for the Cougars.

Washington State finally got into the end zone in the second quarter when it took advantage of good field position after forcing a fumble from Washington receiver John Ross, but the Huskies responded with a seven-play, 85-yard touchdown drive to extend its lead to 25 points. The Cougars’ nightmare half came to a close with them squandering another scoring opportunity, as Falk lofted a pass into heavy coverage in the end zone for an interception. It goes without saying this was not the way Washington State envisioned the first two quarters of this game unfolding, but unlike most situations, when the high-scoring Cougars could feel confident in their ability to make up sizable deficits, the vast disparity in performance between these two teams over the first two quarters left the impression that Washington had already secured the…