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Purple-and-gold steamroller helps bust Buffs

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Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins celebrates after catching a touchdown in the second quarter that put the Huskies up 31-7 over Colorado. The UW offense dominated, putting up 628 yards and a season-high 59 points against the Buffaloes.

Photo by Anastasia Stepankowsky

Who needs 60 minutes of football? Not the Washington offense. Going all four quarters is so passé.

That much was certain after a destructive first half in which the UW put the light bulbs on the Husky Stadium scoreboard to their stiffest test of the year. Thirty-one points. Fifty-seven plays. A grand total of 464 yards, including 312 through the air from Keith Price and another 152 on the ground, led by 109 yards from Bishop Sankey.

“We didn’t expect to do that,” tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins said after the onslaught.

The game may have been only half-over, but the contest was complete when Seferian-Jenkins hauled in a 15-yard touchdown in the closing seconds of the second quarter to put the Huskies up 31-7. With a comfortable lead and two defensive touchdowns in the third quarter, the UW didn’t throw a pass in the second half.

“It went about as well as it could have gone for us,” head coach Steve Sarkisian said.

He meant the game, but Sarkisian just as easily could have been talking about his team’s offense, which is excelling in its first season in the Space Age. Was the switch to an up-tempo, spread attack really the only thing standing between the UW and offensive nirvana?

The answer appears to be yes, particularly during the past two weeks, when the Huskies have averaged 50 points and 635 yards of offense in a pair of easy wins over Cal and Colorado. For years, Oregon has abused overmatched foes with the pace and talent of its offense. This season, the UW has done the same.

It began with Boise State, when the Huskies topped 300 yards of offense in the very first half of the season opener. They finished the opener with 592 yards and followed it up with 615 yards against Illinois and 680 against Idaho State.

The effect of the UW’s faster-paced offense has been clear against teams that can’t match the Huskies’ outright talent. More plays, more yards, more points. But success hasn’t come so easily against the teams that can equal or exceed the UW’s skill.

Arizona limited the Huskies to 409 yards. The Ducks held them to 376. In a disastrous defeat to Arizona State, the UW mustered 212. The lone exception came against Stanford, when the Huskies posted 489 yards against the Cardinal’s vaunted defense.

Those are the sorts of teams the Huskies face the next two weeks in road trips first to UCLA, then Oregon State. Those two games will define their season. A pair of wins puts the UW on track for its best season in more than a decade. A pair of losses puts 7-6 in play for the fourth season running.

The Bruins and Beavers won’t allow a whole game’s worth of production in a single half, and the Huskies would be foolish to celebrate too much success against the Pac-12’s dregs. Nonetheless, Saturday’s first half deserves to be celebrated.

Price was sharper than he’s been all season, and Sankey was his usual superb self. The Huskies in no way missed the injured Kasen Williams, instead turning to Seferian-Jenkins and Marvin Hall to assume increased roles in the offense. Four different Huskies had more than 50 yards receiving in the first 30 minutes.

Yada yada yada. I could go on. What matters is that the UW didn’t let a three-game losing streak destroy their season. Ten wins are still possible. And the UW offense looks like a wrecking ball.

Now, a fresh batch of challenges awaits.

“It’s the fourth quarter of the season,” receiver Kevin Smith said. “We’ve got to keep it rolling.”

Reach columnist Kevin Dowd at sports@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @KevinDowd 

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