SEATTLE – The boos came out a day early.
On the eve of Halloween, a University of Washington football team that began this season disguised as a Pac-10 contender got only 13 minutes into Saturday’s game before the home crowd turned against it.
Already trailing 14-0 to 13th-ranked Stanford, the Huskies had to call a timeout when Justin Glenn forgot to run onto the field in punt formation. The fans let UW have it.
If only the heckling could have stopped there.
During the 41-0 loss to Stanford, the only thing that quieted the home crowd was the ghost-like attendance that remained in the stands midway through the third quarter. The Huskies’ first home shutout loss in almost 24 years chased away most of the UW faithful.
“We obviously hit rock bottom today,” Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian said after UW was outgained 470-107 in the second-worst loss of his two-year tenure. “It’s a very disappointing performance. I feel for the fans. They deserve better than that.”
In a short, terse, postgame press conference, Sarkisian called the game “definitely the worst offensive performance I’ve ever been associated with.”
The Huskies had just seven first downs, averaged less than 1 yard per carry on running plays and didn’t get closer than the Stanford 42-yard line.
Quarterback Jake Locker, who completed just 7 of 14 passes for a season-low 64 yards and two interceptions, was at a loss for words after the performance.
“I don’t know what happened,” said Locker, who echoed Sarkisian’s sentiment about it being the worst offensive performance in which he’d been involved. “I thought we had a great week of preparation; I thought we were ready to play. For one reason or another, it just didn’t come together today. … I don’t know where to begin. We weren’t very sound everywhere. I know I made a few mistakes.”
The loss leaves Washington (3-5, 2-3 Pac-10) needing to win three of its final four games to become bowl eligible. The first of those games comes Saturday at No. 1 Oregon, so a season filled with high expectations appears to be on a fast track to bowl ineligibility – for the eighth year in a row.
“We’re low, obviously,” Sarkisian said. “Confidence is low. That doesn’t mean it can’t be built back up.”
The Huskies will wake up this morning feeling as vulnerable as ever, having lost two consecutive games for the first time since last November. It was a humbling performance, to say the least.
“Obviously, it’s hard,” linebacker Cort Dennison said. “They beat us in all aspects of the game.”
The Cardinal (7-1, 4-1) scored touchdowns on each of their first four possessions and led 28-0 at the half. Along the way, Stanford had 318 total yards to UW’s 35 through 30 minutes of play.
The only first-half highlights for the home crowd came when Stanford kicker Nate Whitaker missed a 40-yard field-goal attempt and UW safety Nate Fellner intercepted a fourth-down, Hail Mary pass in the end zone after time expired – resulting in the Huskies’ first two “stops” of the day.
The only time the boos were replaced by rousing cheers came with about 5 minutes left in the first half, when the crowd gave mock applause following a UW tackle behind the line of scrimmage.