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Flying high

Flying high

Flying high -

Offensive lineman Dexter Charles (76) and wide receiver Kasen Williams (2) congratulate running back Bishop Sankey on a touchdown run against Illinois on Sept. 14 in Soldier Field. Sankey is currently the nation's second leading rusher in yards per game. 

Photo by Joshua Bessex

For the first time since 2000, the Washington football team has a perfect 3-0 start heading into Pac-12 play. The last time the Huskies did that, they finished the season as Rose Bowl champions. It was also the last time the UW played in Pasadena, Calif., on New Year’s Day in “The Granddaddy of Them All.”

This season’s campaign to get back to the top of the Pac-12 has been electrifying on both sides of the ball so far. The UW’s experiment with the no-huddle offense has gone off pretty much without a hitch. The defense has been surprisingly stout. But as head coach Steve Sarkisian said Saturday after the UW’s nonconference finale, “The real season starts next Saturday,” with the UW’s crucial matchup with Arizona. The Wildcats slashed the Huskies in last season’s matchup, systematically wearing the defense down and stymying the offense en route to a 52-7 embarrassment for the UW. This weekend’s matchup with Arizona could prove to be the UW’s most important game of the season as the Huskies play three ranked teams in as many weeks following the conference opener. Before the Huskies move on to their real season though, let’s look back at the nonconference season that was:

Aug. 31 vs. Boise State | W 38-6

In one word: Fast

The Huskies unveiled their new up-tempo offense and they didn’t disappoint. The Huskies ran 85 plays in 29 minutes and nine seconds, the most plays they’ve run since 2007 when they reeled off 95 plays against Stanford. On average, the UW averaged 20.58 seconds between plays on the night, but before they took their foot off the gas pedal in the fourth quarter, the Huskies were averaging 18.64 seconds between snaps in the first three quarters. The Broncos joined the Huskies in the fast lane, as they also went no-huddle, running 88 plays.

By the numbers:

0 touchdowns for the Broncos

Boise State had never been shut out of the end zone under head coach Chris Petersen. That changed in the UW’s season opener. The UW defense gave up 346 yards, but locked down in crucial moments in the red zone and on third downs, as the Broncos converted just eight of their 19 third downs. 

71,963 fans were in attendance to ring in the new Husky Stadium

After the Huskies played their home schedule at CenturyLink Field last season, the biggest home crowd since 2010 helped the Huskies christen the new Husky Stadium. It was the first sellout crowd since the Huskies hosted Nebraska in 2010.

Sept. 14 vs. Illinois (in Soldier Field) | W 34-24

In one word: Serviceable 

The win was a lot harder than it should have been for the Huskies. Penalties slowed the UW on the road, and the Huskies let Illinois creep back into the game after grabbing a 31-10 lead. It was a convincing nonconference win for the Huskies against a less than stellar opponent, but it could have been much easier.

By the numbers:

274 combined rushing yards for Bishop Sankey and Jesse Callier

The running back duo combined for more yards on the ground than the Huskies had total at the end of the game when factoring in negative yardage. The team finished the night with 273 rushing yards. Sankey had one touchdown and a career-high 208 yards on 35 carries, while Callier chipped in with 66 yards and a touchdown.

95.76 minutes of game time (95 minutes and 46 seconds) before the Huskies relinquished a touchdown

Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase scored the first touchdown of the year on the UW defense when he punched it in from two yards out in the third quarter. The Huskies gave up three touchdowns to Illinois, including a 72-yard completion from Scheelhaase to wide receiver Ryan Lankford later in the third quarter.

Sept. 21 vs. Idaho State | W 56-0

In one word: Dominant

The score speaks for itself.

By the numbers: 

680 total yards for the Huskies

The UW simply thrashed the Bengals in every way possible on offense: 370 yards on the ground, 310 yards through the air. It was the largest yardage total for the Huskies since the 2011 Alamo Bowl. The UW’s stats go back to 1947, and in that time, the Huskies have never eclipsed the 500-yard mark in three straight games until this season.

16 penalties for the Huskies

The UW’s dominant performance was not without some hiccups, most notably on the offensive line. The offensive line drew 10 of the UW’s 16 penalties, seven of which were false starts. The Huskies relinquished 130 yards on penalties alone and are lucky they were playing FCS opponent Idaho State as the Bengals could only muster 164 total yards of their own.

Reach Sports Editor Thuc Nhi Nguyen at sports@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @thucnhi21

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