Going into Saturday's game against Oklahoma, no one was picking the Huskies to score an upset on the road. If anything, most were tabbing the game as a blowout and an easy win for the Sooners.
However, Washington (1-1) had different ideas in mind, at least during the first thirty minutes. The Huskies fought the Sooners tough and even led for part of the first half before going into the locker room tied up at 13 a piece.
It was after the break, though, that the wheels came off of the Husky offense and Oklahoma scored 24 unanswered points to win 37-20.
"It's disappointing. We came here to win a football game. They just did a better job of executing then we did," coach Tyrone Willingham said. "We just have to play better all the way across the board."
After the UW defense forced the Sooners into a three-and-out first possession – thanks in part to two false start penalties by the OU offensive line – Kenny James got the Huskies started off on the right foot, as the senior tailback took the first play of the game for Washington 54 yards for a touchdown.
James was aided by good blocking from the Husky offensive line and used a spin move to break a tackle by Sooner redshirt freshman safety Keenan Clayton in order to find his way to the endzone.
James finished with 70 yards on the day from ten carries.
"[The opening play] was something we'd been working on all week," James said. "We knew we could gas them with that play. We went out there and did a great job of opening up the hole and made it a touchdown."
Oklahoma responded when senior quarterback Paul Thompson threw a seven yard touchdown pass to sophomore receiver Malcolm Kelly two
possessions later. It capped a 22 yard drive that came together after OU's Reggie Smith returned Sean Douglas' 82 yard punt 62 yards.
Douglas' punt was the longest in UW history, and the senior sent another one 81 yards for a touchback in the middle of the fourth quarter. The former record holder was Derek McLaughlin's 80 yard punt at Oregon
"I was backed up in the end zone and trying to get it off as fast as I possibly could," Douglas said. "When I hit it, I looked up and saw that the ball was low and I saw [Smith] backing up just a little bit – backpedaling but not running. So I was thinking, 'Please go over his head, please go over his head.'"
On the day, Douglas had five punts and averaged 57 yards an attempt.
Both teams added two field goals before the end of the first half, and the Huskies opened the third quarter with the ball.
While Louis Rankin was able to get some yards on the ground, Washington was not able to jumpstart its offense on the first possession of the second half. Rankin finished with 112 yards on 17 carries.
The Sooners then used their next two possessions to build a ten point lead they would never give up.
Washington was able to hold Peterson mostly in check during the first half of play, but the Heisman candidate finished the game with 165 yards in the second half including a touchdown run of 17 yards and another
of one yard.
"He's a great back -- just like a regular Oklahoma back," C.J. Wallace said. "They always produce good backs. He's really fast and really athletic. The guy can play ball."
Scott White did a lot to help his image as a Husky in the game. After briefly considering quitting the team
during the fall training camp when he fell to second on the depth chart behind Dan Howell, White has been working to rebuild his image.
Against the Sooners, White recorded 12 tackles, grabbed an interception, and picked up a fumble at the OU four yard line. Unfortunately, Isaiah Stanback fumbled on the next play to turn the ball right back over to the Sooners.
"When you have an opportunity to be three points down and you're first and goal, that's one of those situations that you have to cash in on that," Willingham said. "But they did exactly what a good football team does. They got the ball back and took it back down the field [and
One of the only bright spots of the second half came at the end of the game as time was winding down and Carl Bonnell came in to take over the Husky offense.
Bonnell went five for seven with 41 yards and even led Washington's only touchdown drive of the half.
"We started out fast, and in the second half we came out a little flat," James said. "That's not to say we didn't run hard, and I think as a team we gave a great effort. The only thing we can do now is press on towards the future and get ready for next week."
While they could not score the upset in the end, the Huskies did make a statement in the first half. The rebuilding road may not be quite as long as everyone was expecting it to be.