The Washington Huskies were virtually eliminated from College Football Playoff contention Friday night with a 30-22 road loss to the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium in California.
Cardinal running back Bryce Love led the upset charge with 166 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries to help hand the ninth-ranked Huskies their second loss of the 2017 season. The victory also moved Stanford atop the Pac-12 North standings.
Washington quarterback Jake Browning connected on 17 of his 23 passing attempts, but that high completion rate generated just 190 yards and no touchdowns. The Cardinal dominated the Huskies in time of possession, holding the ball for over 36 minutes compared to Washington’s 23:55.
The reigning Pac-12 champions led by seven at two different points in the first half, but Stanford scored 23 unanswered points stretching from a Jet Toner field goal late in the second quarter to a Love touchdown run midway through the fourth to take control.
Washington got back within eight on a Myles Gaskin touchdown plunge and two-point conversion with just over four minutes to play, but it could never level the score.
In turn, FiveThirtyEight noted the Huskies’ chances of qualifying for the CFP have dropped to 3 percent. The highest Pac-12 squad is USC at 9 percent.
Washington head coach Chris Petersen told reporters afterward his team didn’t do a good enough job of getting Stanford out of its comfort zone offensively:
“Yeah, how the game unfolded, they just played their game better than we played our game. I mean, they hold the ball, grind up time, try to limit your possessions, and they did exactly that. If you don’t tackle well, that’s a recipe for disaster. We didn’t tackle well, and our coverage wasn’t like it normally is. They just played the ball better than we did.”
Stanford isn’t in the CFP conversation, but Love bolstered his Heisman Trophy case with another dynamic outing. He’s been battling through an ankle injury and pointed out afterward it took him a while to get going Friday night.
“I definitely felt like I was getting in more of a groove [as the game progressed],” he said. “Just seeing things better, feeling a little better, just knowing things would open up.”
Love and the Cardinal return to action next Saturday when they welcome the California Golden Bears to Stanford Stadium for the 120th edition of the Big Game.
Meanwhile, Washington will attempt to get back on track next weekend when it returns home to face the Utah Utes at Husky Stadium in Seattle.