Say goodbye to the playoffs, and possibly even the Pac-12 title game. Washington’s 30-22 loss Friday night at Stanford effectively eliminated it from the playoff race and also dropped it out of first place in the North Division.
The Huskies (8-2, 5-2) are tied with Washington State (8-2, 5-2) for second place, a half-game behind Stanford (7-3, 6-2). Washington must win its final two games and have Stanford lose next week against California to win the North.
Here’s what we learned from Friday’s disappointing result in Palo Alto:
Jake Browning isn’t a big-game quarterback
Earlier in the week, Jake Browning’s name was listed as one of the top Heisman contenders by a Las Vegas sports book. Don’t expect that to be the case next week, as the junior quarterback once again came up short when it mattered most.
Browning started the game 9-of-9 for 120 yards and ended up with 190 yards on 17-of-23 passing. He failed to throw a touchdown pass for the third time in four games and remains tied with Keith Price for the school career TD mark at 75.
Looking back over his career, having an off night in a big game has become a trend for Browning. He was 17-of-30 for 139 yards in the 13-7 loss at Arizona State last month and completed only 50 percent of his throws in Washington’s two losses in 2016 (while going 9-of-24 against Colorado in the Pac-12 title game).
Penalties have consequences
Washington entered Friday as the second-least penalized team in the Pac-12, just 39 flags in nine games. Against Stanford the Huskies were called for seven penalties, totaling 73 yards, and that included some costly ones.
Leading 14-7 in the second quarter, a false start on wide receiver Andre Baccellia on 3rd-and-1 from the Stanford 18 pushed Washington back and led to a turnover on downs. And in the third quarter, up 14-10, Vita Vea’s sack on third down was negated when he grabbed the face mask of Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello.
One play later, Stanford took the lead.
And down 30-22, with only minutes left, a hold on lineman Kaleb McGary negated a Lavon Coleman run that could have started a game-tying drive. Instead it put the Huskies behind the chains and they never recovered.
All downs matter
The Huskies’ No. 1 defense was only allowing conversions on 30.4 percent of third down plays, never more than nine in a game. Washington also was getting the first down more than 47 percent of the time when facing third down itself, with a 50 percent success rate in five of nine games.
Those numbers were completely flipped against Stanford, with Washington going 2-of-8 on third down while the Cardinal was 10-of-18.
Stanford gained 173 of its 406 yards on third down, gaining 10 or more yards seven times. Washington was solid on first and second down but when it mattered most it couldn’t get the key stop, allowing a first down on seven of eight third downs during one stretch.