Linebacker Tevis Bartlett knew the game was over when Washington State got quiet. Somewhere in the middle of of Washington’s 28-15 victory on Friday night night, the Cougars lost their energy. Bartlett watched their heads drop as they stood on the sideline.
The Huskies bench felt different. Their energy, especially after they built a 14-0 lead, never faltered. They were having fun.
“At no point in that game did I think we were going to lose,” Bartlett said.
There was a chance, he admitted, that the rain and then the snow could’ve shifted a few big plays in either direction. But UW’s confidence didn’t waiver. He’s not so sure that was the case on the other side.
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“I just think they got kind of down on themselves,” he said, “and I don’t know that they bounced back the way they should have.”
Defensive back Jordan Miller felt the same shift from the Martin Stadium crowd.
The fans were loud during the first two drives, he said, but then the Huskies took their two touchdown lead. Add in the snow that coated the field by halftime, making it necessary for two plows to clear it before resumed in the third quarter, and the difference was noticeable.
By the time the second half started, large sections of the stadium had cleared out.
“They had the same doubt they always have every year,” Miller said. “They got a little quiet and I could honestly just tell how the game was going to go.”
The outcome was the only one Miller has ever experienced. The seniors, as Jake Browning said in the immediate aftermath and Bartlett reiterated Monday afternoon, will never know what it’s like to lose to Washington State.
“No one can ever take that away from them,” said defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake. “They’re going to be proud of what they accomplished. They know how much work they put into this thing, especially during that week of practice to prepare for an explosive offense like that.
“I see it from the guys who were just here … who never lost to the team across the state. They’re always proud, shooting texts. I know those guys will be proud forever.”
Lake said game concluded in the best possible way. UW’s defense, the one that limited the nation’s top offense to just 237 total yards, watched from the sideline as the Huskies ran out of the clock by holding onto the ball for nearly nine minutes.
That was Lake’s favorite part of the game.
“We had (former assistant) Randy Hart come speak to us on one of the days last week,” Lake said. “And he goes, ‘You know what, defense? You know what the best defense is? The best defense is on the sideline, watching the offense.’ I thought about that during that 8:30 drive where we’re just sitting there and it was Myles Gaskin right, Myles Gaskin left, and it drained out the whole clock.”
Afterward, the Huskies celebrated on Washington State’s field. They sang the fight song with fans in the end zone, took pictures with their position groups. They threw snowballs and made snow angels. But the best angel, Miller said, was the one Gaskin made sliding into the end zone for UW’s final touchdown.
Bartlett, who grew up in Wyoming, was one of the few UW players who had played in the snow before. He said Friday’s game was probably the warmest snow game he’s experienced. But it was also the wettest.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “I think it definitely prohibited the offenses from doing what they wanted to do a little bit. But both teams played in it and it was a lot of fun for me. I think everyone else felt the same way, especially on defense.”
Said Miller: “It was nice. I’ve been here for a long time and it was nice to be there with the guys I came in with to celebrate and feel good about never losing to (Washington State) and be going to the Pac-12 championship. It was just a great way to end my career here.”
For Lake and his defensive backs, the victories over Washington State are particularly satisfying. In a matchup between the Pac-12’s top passing offense and defense, the defense came out on top.
“We prepare like crazy, the whole week long,” Lake said. “We have some ups and downs during practice. And then the guys know how important this thing is to everybody, to all of Husky nation. To go out there and play the way we played against the No. 1 pass offense is rewarding to everybody.”
Myles Gaskin was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against Washington State. Gaskin rushed for 170 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries. During the win, he became the first player in conference history to rush for 1,000 yards in four straight seasons.