The Andrew Luck-led Stanford Cardinal, ranked No. 7, had no trouble obliterating Washington in Palo Alto. Unbelievably, Stanford rushed for a record 446 yards.
STEVE: Had the late, great Los Angeles sports columnist Jim Murray witnessed the Washington–Stanford debacle, he would have written something like, “The last time there was anything this one-sided, one of them got eaten.” The oddsmakers expected a 20-point Stanford win, but I didn’t foresee the Huskies allowing 65 points (tied for the second most ever against UW) and 446 yards rushing (fourth-most against UW). Stanford’s 65-21 dominance illustrates the disparity between the No. 7-ranked team in the country and the No. 25 team.
ART: Head coach Steve Sarkisian this season has fallen in love with a mountain-climbing analogy: “Never look down to see how far you’ve come; never look up to see how far you have to go.” He would be wise to emphasize the latter, because Saturday night Mt. Rainier became Mt. Everest.
STEVE: It’s going to be intriguing to see how Sarkisian gets the Huskies to respond to such an overwhelming defeat. Stanford scored on 10 of 11 possessions. The only other modern-era opponent to score 65 on Washington was Miami in 2001 (65-7).
ART: Incredibly, they gave up 446 yards rushing — a Stanford record — including two 100-yard rushers and nearly a third. The biggest emotional blow was the fact that the margin of victory was even bigger than last year’s 41-0 defeat that the Huskies claimed was an inspiration heading into this game. Afterward, UW running back Chris Polk opined on KJR radio, “We kinda quit.” That’s a sign that by halftime, Stanford was so physically dominant that the Cardinal beat the will out of the Huskies.
STEVE: About the only thing that can be said in Washington’s behalf is that the team features a lot of young players. I agree that the Huskies overall are on the uptick, that they will be better next year and the year after that with the players Sarkisian recruited. Still, I wonder how Sarkisian will deal with it, even with Polk getting 144 yards on 15 carries (he tied Napoleon Kaufman’s school record with his 17th career 100-yard rushing game). BTW: Washington allowed 10.1 yards per rushing play. Only California in 2003 averaged more against UW in a single game, 10.8.
ART: It may be that we’re seeing something epic by Stanford. They have now won 10 games in a row by 25 points or more. That’s never been done in college ball since the Associated Press poll began in 1936. The span includes 370 previous streaks of 10 or more wins. As much as Sarkisian will hate to read this, Jim Harbaugh, the previous Cardinal coach now with the 49ers, and his replacement, former assistant David Shaw, may have created a colossus. I can’t imagine Stanford losing this year, or ever being caught breaking NCAA rules — the traditional downfall of successful programs.
STEVE: Sarkisian can only hope that when Andrew Luck goes to the NFL, his replacement isn’t nearly as good. Luck was all that he was advertised to be, but he almost seemed a role player in the Stanford offense. That’s how good Stanford is.
ART: Post-game Sarkisian was willing to take some of the heat: “I thought we were really poor offensively in the third quarter. That starts with me. I didnt like (my play) calls. Maybe we tried a little too hard and got away from ourselves a little bit. At the end, I didnt think our kids quit. I thought they fought.” Maybe so, but the last thing he wants to say is that Stanford is physically and mentally superior across the board. That’s the truth, but it does him no good to say so.
STEVE: I appreciate his reluctance to admit such a thing, but what this game shows is that, for all the strides Washington has made under Sarkisian, UW is not yet an elite team (nor can anyone expect it to be), Sarkisian needs more time. Scary thought: What happens if Stanford gets more time?
ART: It’s one thing to lose four in a row to a conference rival. But the magnitude of these last two losses to Stanford, and the way they were administered — power right, power left, and UW was helpless to stop it — is going to leave more than a bruise. As Sarkisian put it, “Any time a team rushes for more than 400 yards against you, it’s beyond a setback, from a psyche standpoint. We have to make sure we get these guys back right.” Even though 5-2 Washington plays “only” Arizona (2-5) Saturday night at Husky Stadium, the Wildcats didn’t look bad under an interim coach in beating UCLA Friday night.
STEVE: Just as I suspected that the Stanford-Washington game would become a track meet — although I didn’t foresee Usain Bolt vs. three-legged sack racers — I suspect this will be the most important week of UW’s season, determining whether the season goes north or south. I don’t envy Sarkisian his task over the next few days, or that of defensive coordinator Nick Holt, who is probably spending the night under an oxygen tent.
ART: It’s no surprise that Washington’s defense was vulnerable against a guy like Luck. But he didn’t beat them, not with 169 yards passing. He managed the game masterfully and made no mistakes, but the Huskies lost by having Stanford’s line, and those three quality tight ends, overwhelm the UW front seven. There had been signs of improvement lately, but Sarkisian hasn’t yet hired the defensive horses to be a premier Pac-12 outfit, much less a top 25 team. But I don’t think Huskies fans should be anything more than disappointed — Sarkisian and his staff had too many holes to fill to be elite in three years after 0-12.
STEVE: That they are 5-2 three years after 0-12 is remarkable, despite the hideousness Saturday night in Palo Alto.
ART: A win Saturday makes the Huskies bowl eligible in the eighth week, which last year would have been thrilling beyond measure. Sarkisian said, “The worst thing we can do now is sit around and sulk, and get that woe-is-me mentality.” He has rallied them in the past from blowouts and heartbreaks. This week may require one-pound amnesia pills.