Keith Price throws for 312 yards and scores 3 touchdowns – in one half. The defense gets its first two turnovers for touchdowns this season. And the Huskies get their largest margin of victory over an FBS team in 39 years. Up next: At UCLA next Friday night.
By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE – Keith Price had just thrown for more than 300 yards. He accounted for three touchdowns – all in just one half.
He had tied Carson Palmer for 10th all-time in Pac-12 history with his 71st and 72nd career touchdown passes. He’d moved to five behind John Elway for seventh and 10 behind Andrew Luck for fifth. And he still has four games left in his career.
Yet what had the quarterback and his Huskies teammates grinning most Saturday night was Price running over Colorado safety Parker Orms at the end of his bullish, startling, 18-yard touchdown run in the first half.
“He put the truck stick on him!” runner supreme Bishop Sankey gushed, admiringly.
UW did the same thing -- and more -- to Colorado.
This wasn’t just a return from a bye. It was a return to dominance.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins was back as a main threat in the offense with three big catches early, including a dynamic, leaping grab for a touchdown to end the exhilarating first half. The defense got its first two turnovers for touchdowns this season. Marcus Peters deflected a Colorado pass that fellow defensive back Tre Watson intercepted and ran 84 yards to make it 38-7. Then end Josh Shirley forced a sack-fumble that Peters scooped and took 53 yards for another score. And Washington bamboozled the Buffaloes 59-7, thrilling 66,599 who screamed through a drizzly Saturday night on Montlake.
The 59 points were the fifth-most for Washington since 1945. The 52-point margin of victory was its largest over a team from Division I or the Football Bowl Subdivision since the Huskies’ national-title season, Oct. 5, 1991, 54-0 over Arizona.
Yet the most telling fact about how standards – and performance – are getting back to the way they were at Washington through the late coach Don James’ heyday: There was not one mention after the game about UW (6-3, 3-3 Pac-12) becoming bowl eligible for the fourth consecutive season.
Not until Sankey was asked about not being asked about it.
“We made that the standard here for the past five years, since Coach Sark’s been here,” Sankey said, with a shrug.
No, there is much more than mere bowl eligibility on the Huskies’ minds. Coach Steve Sarkisian and his players were already watching UCLA on the flat screens in their new locker room minutes after this one, already prepping for Friday night’s ESPN2 featured game at the 16th-ranked Bruins in the Rose Bowl.
“We are already on it,” Sarkisian said of UCLA (7-2, 4-2), which won at Arizona 31-26 later Saturday night.
Yet Sarkisian did allow that the bulldozing of the Buffaloes was “a great start to the fourth quarter of the season.”
Foremost, the starters got to rest most of the second half and came out of the game healthy entering a preparation week for UCLA that is one day shorter than usual. Linebacker Shaq Thompson left for two series in the second quarter with a shoulder stinger nerve injury but returned and said afterward, “yeah, I’m good.”
“If I could have written a script – maybe outside of Paul Richardson getting us on the deep ball there (for CU’s only score, to make it 10-7 in the first quarter) – it went about as good as it could have gone,” Sarkisian said.
Price torched the nation’s 104th-ranked pass defense with 22 completions in 29 attempts for 312 yards, two touchdowns passing and one more running. That was when he went all Peterbilt on that poor Colorado safety for 18-yard run to make it 24-7 with 3:19 left in the second quarter.
“I knew nothing was going to stop me,” Price said.
“Sark said, ‘Play physical.’ Well, it’s hard to be physical when you are a quarterback. I was sort of offended when he sent that message (Friday) night.”
Sarkisian laughed over Price’s ram-like run.
“He probably had his proudest moment when he got to run that guy over,” the coach said.
The night was so gloriously purple and gold -- and red, white and blue with Washington's Veterans Day W on its special white helmets – the Huskies never punted. They did not throw a pass in the second half, yet still out-scored the Buffaloes (3-6, 0-6) after halftime 28-0.
“It was fun,” Price said, with a grin even larger than his usual one. “I had A LOT of fun.”
"We didn't have a chance to win tonight," first-year Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said, tersely.
Price had with another running touchdown midway through the third quarter, a 4-yard run on Washington’s only offensive drive of the third quarter -- the final one of the game for Price and the starting offense.
The defense, which swarmed freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau from Tacoma and the CU offense most of the night, did the rest of the scoring in UW’s 21-0 third quarter.
Demanding, driven defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox sounded pleased.
“We talk about forcing turnovers all the time, but it doesn’t always happen,” Wilcox said. “That was great to see.”
Seferian-Jenkins tied his season-high with 62 yards receiving, also all in one half. The last 15 yards came on the next-to-last play of soaring second quarter. Price threw a jump ball in the middle of the end zone. Seferian-Jenkins, who also played forward on the UW basketball team as a freshman, boxed out CU’s defender, leaping and pulled down a touchdown pass as if it was a rebound.
The tight end who has been hearing questions all fall about when he would get more involved in the offense then flexed in the end zone.
“I don’t know, I guess I had a great game. I don’t know,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “Just doing what I do every day in practice.
“I just want to win,” ASJ said. “I don’t really care about myself, I just want the team to play well and do my part.”
Sarkisian said of Seferian-Jenkins’ re-emergence: “When he’s playing at a high level and we’re utilizing him, we’re a better team.”
Sankey, the nation’s third-ranked rusher entering the game, is so consistently great he was just a third-tier highlight. He had 143 yards on 23 carries for his seventh 100-yard day in nine games this season. His 1-yard touchdown run made it 10-0 midway through the first quarter.
The Huskies had almost 200 yards by then.
The Huskies rolled up 628 yards against a Colorado defense ranked 104th out of 123 FBS teams in pass defense. It was the fourth time this season they’ve gained 600-plus in a game. They’d gained that much six times ever before this season.
Sarkisian said this week he wanted the Huskies to play faster on offense. Presto! They ran a whopping 57 plays in the first half for an even more astounding 464 yards against CU, which lost its 14th consecutive conference game.
Washington doesn’t keep records for total yards in a half. If it did, that would have been it.
Price loves him some Buffaloes. The fifth-year senior’s last 10 quarters played against Colorado: 65 completions in 86 throws (a 76-percent rate) for 817 yards and 11 touchdowns — with no interceptions.
And it could have been worse. The Huskies went for a 4th and 4 at the CU 10 in the second quarter. Price was pressured for one of the few times in the half and had to throw his pass well wide of Sankey to turn the ball over on downs.
“We went into the game telling our guys we were going to be aggressive tonight,” Sarkisian said. “I was trying to send a message.”
The response was as decisive as the Huskies have had in years. They are now 6-0 after a bye under Sarkisian.
“I feel like this sets us up well,” left guard Dexter Charles said after returning from two games out with a shoulder injury. “This gives us confidence, going out, putting up points.
“And having fun.”