Ancient history is exactly what the Washington players and coaches didn’t want to talk about Saturday night after the Huskies did something never seen before at Autzen Stadium.
“That streak, that’s for the past people who came through here,” UW Linebacker Keishawn Bierria said after the Huskies steamrolled Oregon 70-21. “This team has never seen Oregon; Oregon has never seen his team.”
While the team maintains a bubble seemingly impervious to outside noise or distractions, Washington fans are going to enjoy this win for a very long time.
As of Sunday the win has also become ancient history, but newspapers last forever. The headline of the Sunday Eugene Register-Guard Sports section will live forever.
“A Dawg paddling”.
And, with the team’s indulgence for a second, there was still a lot of history made. So let’s take a quick stroll down Memory Lane.
Washington hung 70 on the home team, an Oregon record. They made Utah’s 62 points scored in Eugene last season almost look pedestrian.
Washington’s 682 total yards of offense was third only to the 734 yards surrendered by San Jose State in 1996 and 692 yards by Oregon State in 2013.
Jake Browning accounted for an all-time record eight touchdowns, six of those through the air. Browning joined Arizona State’s Kalen Ballage and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson to accomplish that feat this season.
“I guess it’s real,” UW receiver Dante Pettis said, matter-of-factly. “It’s not just hype. It’s real. I think that’s what it was.”
Washington fans will let their minds wander. Will this game end Oregon Football as we know it? If 1994 was the beginning with ‘The Pick’, will 2016 be ‘The End’?
“These are the guys that we have hated for so long now,” said right tackle Kaleb McGary, a Battle Ground native. “For years they’ve just embarrassed us. Finally we got to come in and set the record straight.”
Oregon hasn’t lost five-straight in 20 years. That could happen in two weeks when they face off against California in Berkeley.
When asked about ‘The Streak’, the players generally seemed a bit salty - and with good reason. It’s a mindset forged in 2015 with some tough losses, ones they never let slip too far from their heart. It catalyzed their off-season.
But now it’s clear: The Streak’ was never about Oregon. It was always about Washington.
“They were irritated,” Washington Head Coach Chris Petersen said. “They were feisty about it.
“They’ve been on a mission ever since. It’s just clicking for them right now.”
Washington played Saturday without two starters on offense, Chico McClatcher and Shane Brostek. But you would have never known it.
McClatcher was the Huskies’ leading receiver in yardage gained heading into the Oregon game, but didn’t travel.
Pettis and John Ross picked up the slack, catching 17 passes for 228 yards and five touchdowns.
“I don’t care where we do it as long as we get the win,” said Ross. “But to do it there, I just know that it kind of stunned the crowd. People leaving at halftime, it was awesome.”
Brostek had started every game at right guard before Saturday.
Enter Andrew Kirkland, who is quickly becoming the next Coleman Shelton, able to fill in anywhere along the offensive line at a moment’s notice.
“It’s a great team win,” said Myles Gaskin, who set a career-high with 197 yards on 16 carries, scoring once. “One of those feelings where everybody’s doing well. It’s one of those feelings you really can’t explain.”
“It’s incredible to feel how far we’ve come and how much we can accomplish now that we’re in a mental place and physical place to get to those goals that we’ve really circled and wanted to get to for so long,” added McGary.
The Huskies’ next opponent is BYE, maybe one of their toughest yet. With the team rolling and momentum on their side, perhaps Washington would like to be playing this coming weekend.
But this team has demonstrated a singular focus and resolve that has taken them to heights we haven’t seen since the start of the millennia. And they’ll attack BYE with the same saltiness that saw them attack the Ducks with an animal diligence that was simply awe-inspiring.
“It’s a good start but that’s it,” said Browning, now number-one in the country in pass efficiency. “You’ve got to finish well and in the Pac-12 any game can be the one that you lose, so we just have to go into this bye week and attack it and practice hard and get better and get ready for Oregon State.”
Browning mentioned the ideal of self-evaluation, and those following Washington would be well-advised to take Browning up on his thoughts.
In our weekly predictions, I was the only one that forecasted a close game. I expected a close contest, not only based on the fact that Autzen Stadium has one of the best (read: most hostile) atmospheres in the Pac-12, but also because of the Huskies’ close losses last year.
Washington was clearly better than Oregon, but would it show? Could they avoid the same pitfalls that nearly drove them to defeat at Arizona?
Looking back, I should have paid attention to my colleagues. They got it. They saw something I was apparently unwilling to accept.
The answers came in resounding fashion. Yes, yes, and yes. In short, I needed to quickly re-evaluate where Washington was and where they could be by season’s end.
I mistakenly thought next year was the year they would break into the playoff discussion. That time is right now.
I mistakenly focused my attention on the wrong ‘streak’. Twelve-straight losses will do that to you.
“We just look to prove to ourselves how good we can be each week,” said McGary.
The expectations have never changed, according to Petersen. I wasn’t listening.
I was too focused on the recent past to believe this Washington team was capable of hoisting 70 on Oregon. At Oregon.
I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone.
The 24-Hour Rule definitely applies for this game. Washington fans will burn couches, drain fifths, lose their voices and fry their DVRs watching this beatdown again and again and again.
But starting Monday, it’s time to beat BYE. It’s time to focus on the right ‘streak’, because ‘The Streak’ has vanished.
And on this Sunday, where the sky looked just a little bit bluer and the air smelled just a little bit fresher than it did the day before - it’s as if ‘The Streak’ never happened.
What a time to be alive.