STANFORD, Calif. — A week ago, USC backup quarterback Matt Fink — who was operating a potentially prolific air raid offense — threw for 163 yards and a touchdown in 12 drives and four quarters inside Husky Stadium.
On Saturday, Stanford backup quarterback Davis Mills — who was operating a statistically underwhelming pro-style offense — threw for 161 yards and a touchdown in his first three drives.
The difference, to put it mildly, was dramatic. The 6-foot-4, 214-pound Mills — a former five-star prospect, much like Jacob Eason — completed 13 of 18 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown in the first half alone. He ultimately completed 21 of 30 passes for 293 yards and a touchdown, and he was not sacked along the way. On a night the Huskies will want to forget, the No. 15 Huskies (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12) stunningly fell 23-13 to Stanford on Saturday night on The Farm.
Early in the second quarter, Mills found sophomore wide receiver Simi Fehoko coasting past cornerback Keith Taylor and safety Cameron Williams down the right sideline for a 42-yard score which, if you were wondering, looked remarkably similar to Michael Pittman Jr.’s 44-yard touchdown the week before.
On fourth-and-2 from midfield, Stanford running back Cameron Scarlett put his pads down and plowed through linebacker Brandon Wellington for a three-yard gain. Three plays later, 269-pound tight end Tucker Fisk demolished 185-pound UW safety Myles Bryant for 16 more bruising yards. Scarlett finished with 151 yards rushing and a touchdown on 33 attempts.
Stanford outgained Washington 308-146 in the first half with an average of 8.3 yards per play. The Cardinal ended with 482 yards of offense.
On the scoreboard, this was a close game … for a while.
On the field, and on the stat sheet, it was a merciless, methodical thrashing.
And that’s not exclusive to UW’s defense, either. In Washington’s opening offensive drive, the Huskies marched 75 yards on 10 carries. Junior quarterback Jacob Eason completed all five of his pass attempts and threw for 56 yards, including a 28-yard looper to Aaron Fuller and a three-yard play-action touchdown to tight end Cade Otton. It was his first career Pac-12 touchdown pass.
The rest of the way, Eason completed 11 of 31 passes for 125 yards and an interception.
And, no, it wasn’t all Eason’s fault. Besides Fuller, who hauled in eight passes for a whopping 146 yards, no other Husky wide receiver recorded a catch until the fourth quarter. One catch for nine yards for Terrell Bynum. Nothing from Andre Baccellia. Nothing from Chico McClatcher. Nothing from Puka Nacua (who went a third consecutive game without a target). Junior tight end Hunter Bryant dropped two passes that would have been third down conversions, and Fuller added a drop of his own.
And, while they were losing, the Huskies lost some more. Specifically, redshirt freshman running back Richard Newton — who led the team with 64 yards and 6.4 yards per carry — left the game in the second half with what appeared to be a significant left leg injury. The bruising 210-pound tailback was carted from the sideline into the road locker room.
If there were positives — and, indeed, they’re hard to find — they were Fuller’s performance (outside of two costly drops) as well as a pair of goal line stops. Junior nickelback Elijah Molden also finished with nine tackles, two pass breakups and a forced fumble.
Midway through the third quarter, Scarlett barreled through the UW defensive line for a 4-yard touchdown run. Along the way, he churned through the feeble arm tackle of 191-pound freshman safety Cameron Williams, who was decisively deposited at the 2-yard line.
As Stanford’s entire offense celebrated in the back of the end zone, Williams put his head down on the turf, lying face down where Scarlett left him. He didn’t want to look.
Husky fans almost certainly felt the same.