BY Steve Rudman 06:30AM 10/13/2017

Heading to ASU, Huskies own historic numbers

The Washington Huskies could become the fourth team in conference history to lead in scoring offense and defense in consecutive years.

Jake Browning has 14 TD passes through six games. Last year, he threw 23 through six. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Washington is a 17.5-point pick over Arizona State Saturday night in Tempe (7:45 p.m., PT, ESPN) even though the Sun Devils have some compelling data in their favor. According to ESPN’s College Football Power Index, the Sun Devils will be the best team the Huskies have faced, having supplanted the previous best, Colorado.

After opening 3-0, Colorado lost to Washington 37-10 in Boulder and has since lost to UCLA (27-23) and Arizona (45-42). Arizona State (2-3, 1-1), on the other hand, knocked off one Top 25 team, beating No. 24 Oregon 37-35 in Tempe Sept. 23.

In addition, all of ASU’s losses, to No. 19 San Diego State (30-20), to No. 24 Texas Tech (52-45) and to No. 23 Stanford, (34-24) have come against teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25.

Arizona State is also 9-3 against the spread in its past 12 home games, has won six consecutive contests over the Huskies at Sun Devil Stadium (UW last won there in 2001, four coaches ago), and is 16-6 in its past 22 at home.

Arizona State is averaging 32.6 points per game and Washington is 43.0, which suggests a shootout. Trouble for ASU is, the Sun Devils are allowing 36.4, third-worst total in the Pac-12. Meanwhile, Washington is surrendering a conference-best 10.2, including two late-game touchdowns against reserves. Washington, 10-1 in its last 11 road games, has not permitted more than 16 points in a game.

UW’s average scoring is an improvement over 2016, when the 41.8 offensive average and 17.7 defensive average led the conference.

It appears that Washington will lead the Pac-12 in scoring defense again since the Huskies enjoy an 8.2-point edge over No. 2 Utah (18.4). The only school in the past decade to lead in scoring defense by more than five points: The 2014 Stanford Cardinal (16.4) over Oregon (23.6).

If the Huskies win the scoring title (Oregon and Washington meet in Seattle Nov. 4), Washington will be the first conference school to lead in scoring offense and scoring defense in back-to-back years twice.

Year School Coach Off. Def. Skinny
1954 UCLA Red Sanders 40.8 4.4 National champs, 9-0 record
1955 UCLA Red Sanders 28.5 5.7 9-2, lost Rose to Mich. St.
1990 Washington Don James 35.8 12.6 10-2, won Rose over Iowa
1991 Washington Don James 41.9 9.2 12-0 co-national champs
2002 USC Pete Carroll 35.8 18.5 11-2, won Orange (Iowa)
2003 USC Pete Carroll 41.8 18.4 12-1, won Rose (Michigan)
2004 USC Pete Carroll 38.2 13.0 11-0, won Orange (Okla.)
2016 Washington Chris Petersen 41.8 17.7 12-2, reached playoffs
2017 Washington Chris Petersen 43.0 10.2 6-0, at Arizona St. Saturday

Based on their 12-0 record and co-national championship, the 1991 Huskies are the greatest team for a single season in school history, although the 2016 Huskies probably rank as a close second after reaching the national playoffs, a first.

The 2017 Huskies are a scant better than the 1991 team based entirely on the difference between points scored and points allowed. The ’91 team, starring QB Billy Joe Hobert and WR Mario Bailey, scored 41.9 points per game and surrendered, with DT Steve Emtman in the middle, 9.2.

In NCAA stats, the Huskies are third nationally in offensive efficiency despite the fact that QB Jake Browning has thrown nine fewer TD passes through six games this year (14) than he did through six last year.

The top differentials in points scored vs. points allowed for Washington’s most highly regarded conference championship teams (2017 listed for comparison purposes):

Year Coach Off. Def. Diff. Skinny
2017 Chris Petersen 43 10.2 32.8 6-0, 3-0, tied for first Pac-12 North
1991 Don James 41.9 9.2 32.7 12-0, shared national title with Miami
2016 Chris Petersen 41.8 17.7 24.1 12-2, lost to Alabama in Peach Bowl
1990 Don James 35.8 13.6 22.2 10-2, beat Iowa 46-34 in Rose Bowl
1984 Don James 29.5 11.6 17.9 11-1, beat Oklahoma in Orange Bowl
1960 Jim Owens 23.1 9.1 14.0 10-1, beat Minnesota 17-7 in Rose Bowl
1959 Jim Owens 19.0 5.9 13.1 10-1, beat Wisconsin 44-8 in Rose Bowl
1977 Don James 28.8 15.8 13.0 10-2, defeated Michigan in Rose Bowl

If the Huskies can keep their scoring defense number under 12, they would become one of the elite defenses in recent conference history. Since 1970, only 1974 USC (11.4), 1978 USC (11.8), 1992 Washington (9.2), 1992 Arizona (8.9) and 2008 USC (9.0) held opponents to fewer than 12 points per game.

Whatever UW’s final number, the back-to-back years will be remarkable, since the 2016 Huskies had three members of the secondary — Budda Baker, Sidney Jones and Kevin King — taken in  in the first 11 picks of the second round in the NFL draft.


  • Husky73

    oh oh…You just jinxed them in Tempe!

  • disqus_0fotImVld4

    Can’t remember the year, but do recall the Sports Illustrated article that referred to the 3 best college coaches for the year: “Don James, Don James, and Don James.” :)