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Huskies’ dominant defense ranks first nationally in yards allowed

Sun., Nov. 5, 2017, 7:57 p.m.

Oregon quarterback Braxton Burmeister is tackled by Washington linebackers Connor O’Brien, right, and Brandon Wellington, upper center, as linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven, left, looks on, in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, in Seattle. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)
Oregon quarterback Braxton Burmeister is tackled by Washington linebackers Connor O’Brien, right, and Brandon Wellington, upper center, as linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven, left, looks on, in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, in Seattle. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

Following their 38-3 romp over Oregon on Saturday night, the Washington Huskies have taken over as the nation’s No. 1-ranked defense.

The Huskies (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12), second in total defense entering the weekend, leapfrogged Alabama for the top spot in the FBS in total defense. UW is allowing 240.9 yards per game to Alabama’s 243.8.

Washington is on pace to finish as the Pac-12’s best defense in a decade. Pete Carroll’s USC defense allowed 221.8 yards per game in 2008.

Oregon’s three points Saturday night were Ducks’ fewest in any game since 2007 and the fewest against the Huskies since UW’s 24-3 win in 1992.

Without Justin Herbert, Oregon’s offense couldn’t find the end zone for the first time since 2007.

“Anytime you hold anybody to three points, that’s rewarding and you can feel good about yourself,” defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski said. “It’s a testament to these guys and how hard they play and how they stick together.”

The Huskies’ defense has allowed eight touchdowns in nine games, the fewest in the nation. (UW officially ranks second nationally in scoring defense, at 11.1 points per game, because the NCAA counts all scores against a team.

UW has allowed 11 total touchdowns this season, but three of those came directly off turnovers by UW’s offense. Alabama’s defense has allowed nine touchdowns in nine games.

“The whole defense needs a lot of credit,” UW coach Chris Petersen said. “It always starts up front. The whole defense is designed to get those linebackers to tackle. That’s great team defense to be able to slow a great running team down enough to keep them out of the end zone and to not let them throw for any yards. I’m proud of those guys.”