Huskies open Pac-12 play against Colorado - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Huskies open Pac-12 play against Colorado

This will be rematch of 2016 Pac-12 Championship game. Photo: UW Athletics This will be rematch of 2016 Pac-12 Championship game. Photo: UW Athletics

By UW Athletics

THE GAME: The Washington football team (3-0) begins Pac-12 Conference play where it left off last year as the Huskies travel to Boulder to face Colorado (3-0) in a rematch of the 2016 conference championship game. The Huskies enter the game, which will kick off at 8:00 p.m. MT/7:00 p.m. PT and air on FOX Sports 1, ranked No. 7 in the latest AP Top 25 and No. 6 the USA Today coaches' poll. Colorado is unranked, but receiving votes in both. Last Dec. in Santa Clara, the Huskies beat the Buffaloes, 41-10, in the title game, in the teams' only meeting of 2016. Following this Saturday's game in Boulder, the Huskies head to Oregon State Sept. 30.
 
QUICK SLANTS: Washington's Dante Pettis has opened the season with a punt return for a touchdown in each of the UW's three games: 61 yards at Rutgers, 67 yards vs. Montana and 77 yards vs. Fresno State ... with 8 career TDs on punt returns, he's tied the NCAA record, shared by Wes Welker (Texas Tech) and Antonio Perkins (Oklahoma) while also tying the NCAA mark for consecutive games with a punt return TD (David Allen, Kansas State, 1998; Ryan Switzer, North Carolina, 2013) ... in the Fresno State win, he also caught three TD passes and threw a 39-yard pass ... Keishawn Bierria led the nation in fumble recoveries last year, with five ... he recovered one against Montana, giving him seven for his career, one shy of the UW career record ... tailback Myles Gaskin scored his 27th career rushing touchdown vs. Fresno State, placing him eighth on the UW list ... three games into his junior season, Jake Browning currently sits fourth on the UW career passing yards (7,183) and career completions (534) charts ... his 67 career TD passes remain second on the list, behind Keith Price's 75 ... seven true freshmen have seen action for the UW so far this year: TE Hunter Bryant, TE Jacob Kizer, WR Ty Jones, TB Salvon Ahmed and DBs Keith Taylor, Brandon McKinney and Elijah Molden ... UW entered the year with 32 players on the roster who had started at least one game ... four more (LB Ben Burr-Kirven and DBs Jordan Miller, Myles Bryant and Murphy) earned their first starts at Rutgers, while two more (WR Jordan Chin and TE Hunter Bryant) started vs. Fresno State, meaning that 38 different Huskies have started a game ... the UW has won seven straight "true" road games (not counting neutral sites).
 
TELEVISION: The Washington-Colorado game will air live to a national audience on FOX Sports 1 television with Tim Brando (play-by-play), Spencer Tillman (color) and Holly Sonders (sidelines) providing the commentary.
 
RADIO: The Washington IMG College Network, with its flagship station KOMO AM-1000 and FM-97.7, will carry the live broadcast of every football game on 17 Northwest radio stations. Longtime play-by-play man Bob Rondeau and color analyst Damon Huard are joined by sideline reporter Elise Woodward. The home broadcast of the game will also air on Sirius (83) and XM (83) satellite radio. Westwood One (Ted Emrich, Derek Rackley) will also air a national, syndicated broadcast.
 
THE YOUNG AND THE OLD: Washington has been a notably and demonstrably young team the last couple of years and, while the Huskies have gotten distinctly more experienced across the board, the roster still skews towards youth. The 2017 roster includes 40 freshmen and 26 sophomores, compared to just 16 seniors and 27 juniors, meaning just under 61 percent of the players have three or more years of eligibility left. At the same time, Washington has 53 returning lettermen and, not counting specialists, 32 different Huskies have started at least one game during their career, entering the 2017 season.
 
RETURNS ON FIRE:  Since the arrival of coach Chris Petersen and his staff prior to the 2014 season, Washington has had five kickoff returns for touchdowns (four by John Ross and one by Keishawn Bierria) and eight punt returns for TDs (all by Dante Pettis, good for a share of the NCAA record). Ross actually had five career TDs, but his first came in the 2013 Fight Hunger Bowl, the last game before the start of the Petersen era. Even if you include that Ross TD, you have to back 16 seasons before you count the previous five Husky kick return TDs, and 23 seasons to count the last eight punt returns. Ja'Warren Hooker returned a kick for a score in 1997. Then, from 1998 to 2033, the Huskies had five: Ross in 2013, Louis Rankin in 2007, Roc Alexander in 2001, Paul Arnold in 1999 and Touré Butler in 1998. As for punt returns, Beno Bryant had three punt return TDs in 1990, and another in 1991. Since then, over 23 seasons (1991-2013), the Huskies had just six more: Jesse Callier in 2011, Chris Stevens in 2006, Charles Frederick in 2003 and (2001), Joe Jarzynka in 1998), and Dave Janoski in 1996 – and two of those (Callier & Stevens) were on blocked punts, so not "traditional" punt returns. What's more? Since Petersen's arrival, the Huskies haven't allowed a single punt or kick return for a score.
 
HUSKIES vs. BUFFALOES HISTORY:  Washington and Colorado have squared off 15 times in their history and the Huskies hold the edge with 10 wins, five losses and one tie. Washington has won seven straight games vs. the Buffaloes. The series began way back in 1915 when a Gil Dobie-coached UW team wrapped up a 7-0 season with a 46-0 win over the Buffs at Washington's Denny Field. Nearly 40 years later, the Huskies opened the 1953 season with a narrow 21-20 loss at Husky Stadium. Jim Owens' first game as Husky head coach, on Sept. 21, 1957, came against Colorado and that game ended in a 6-6 tie in Seattle. Two seasons later, the Huskies made their first trip to Boulder for yet another season-opener and beat the Buffaloes, 21-12. The next meeting didn't come until 1976 in Seattle when Colorado beat Don James' second Husky squad, 21-7. The two teams next met in the 1985 Freedom Bowl in Anaheim. The Huskies won, 20-17, behind sophomore QB Chris Chandler. In 1989, shortly after the untimely death of their former CU quarterback Sal Aunese, the Buffs handed the Huskies a 45-28 loss at Husky Stadium. Colorado rushed for 420 yards despite not having a single back over 100 yards. Colorado made it two wins in as many seasons the following year at Folsom Field, handing a 12th-ranked UW team a 20-14 loss. Eric Bieniemy ran for 143 yards and Darian Hagan scored a pair of TDs in the win. Colorado picked up a third straight win over the Huskies in the 1996 Holiday Bowl, winning 33-21. Corey Dillon rushed for 140 yards and two TDs, but CU quarterback Koy Detmer passed for 371 yards and three scores in the win. In 1999, first-year UW head coach Rick Neuheisel, who'd left Colorado for Seattle during the offseason, got his first win at Washington in week three of the season. Marques Tuiasosopo hit Chris Juergens with a nine-yard TD pass with 3:17 remaining to break a tie and forge a 31-24 win. The following year in Boulder, a Rose Bowl-bound Husky team won, 17-14. Washington scored 14 in the final quarter on a TD run from Willie Hurst and a pass from Tuiasosopo to Wilbur Hooks. In 2011, in the two teams' first meeting as Pac-12 rivals, the Huskies won 52-24 in Seattle. Keith Price led the way for the UW, completing 21-of-28 passes for 257 yards and four touchdowns. In 2012, Price had another big game in a 38-3 win in Boulder, throwing for a school-record-tying five TDs. Price was 22-for-29 for 248 yards and the five scores while Bishop Sankey rushed for 139 yards in a game the UW led just 7-0 at half. The UW held Colorado to just 141 yards in total offense. In 2013 in Seattle, the Huskies won their fifth in a row in the series as the Dawgs, coming off of a bye, rolled up 628 yards of total offense in a 59-7 victory. Price completed 22-of-29 for 312 and two scores while rushing for two more. Sankey gained 143 yards and scored once on 23 carries while defensive backs Marcus Peters and Tre Watson each scored defensive TDs in the fourth quarter. In the teams' most recent trip to Boulder in 2014, erstwhile linebacker Shaq Thompson starred on offense for the Huskies, rushing for 174 yards on just 15 carries in 38-23 Husky win. Sefo Liufau passed for 314 yards and two TDs for Colorado. Last year, the UW and Colorado met in the Pac-12 Championship game in Santa Clara, the first title game for both teams. Washington got 100-yard rushing performances from Myles Gaskin (159 yards) and Lavon Coleman (101) and two key interceptions from game MVP Taylor Rapp, one of which he returned 35 yards for a score on the first play of the second half, as Washington won, 41-10. Jake Browning threw TD passes to Darrell Daniels and John Ross while the UW defense held the Buffaloes to 163 yards and nine first downs.

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