It’s been 111 years since Idaho beat Washington upon the collegiate gridiron — 8-0 in Moscow in 1905 — but the sting of that defeat clearly has lingered because the Huskies have a 36-2-2 series lead following the 59-14 unpleasantness at sun-soaked Husky Stadium Saturday afternoon (box).
That is a weapons-grade grudge.
Either that, or it’s a full-price, full-on scrimmage for walk-ons on one side, and a hard way to earn $825,000 for the other side.
That’s the payout UW sent to Idaho for the privilege of embarrassing them regionally. The players received many bruises but no cash. And there did not seem to be eye moisture worked up by anyone over circumstances of this dreary mismatch between a top-10 powerhouse and fading program falling out of the FBS and into the Big Sky Conference next season. The payout won’t begin to cover the program’s deficits.
“We just got whooped,” said Vandals head coach Paul Petrino, matter-of-fact. “The team was better than us, and they got after us.”
Nor was there much compassion from the purple outfit that was a 37-point favorite.
“That’s what we sign up for,” said Jonathan Smith, the Huskies offensive coordinator, referring to the coaching fraternity that accepts these non-conference mismatches because it’s so much a part of the industry landscape that no one thinks much about it anymore.
A sprinkling of upsets every year — hey there, Cougars! — gets fans swooning over the glories of the college game and makes everyone forget the 99 percent beatdown rate.
So, Huskies coach Chris Petersen, do you ever take a moment to cringe during a rout?
“We pay attention to that, sure,” he said. “But I think we get to play a lot of guys. That’s what I think is the best. Those young guys work hard in practice on the scout teams.”
As with all coaches, Petersen is too deep into his highly compensated task of winning games to think about how grim the disparity looks and feels. He’s just happy to have a 117-27 victory margin in the first two games and a third mismatch next Saturday with Portland State of the Big Sky that will be equally dreary.
The crowd of 60,678 — although that more accurately would be eyeballs and not persons — saw instantly the difference between the teams.
In a play tandem that might have produced the quickest game knockout in the series history, Idaho kickoff returner Callen Hightower fumbled the ball away on the 21-yard line after being blasted by CB Budda Baker, maybe the Huskies best player who begs to be on special teams too.
“We made some adjustments (on kickoff coverage) from last week and it showed up the first play,” Petersen said.
After Keishawn Bierria recovered, the Huskies struck for a touchdown on the next play, a pass from QB Jake Browning to WR Dante Pettis.
Elapsed time: 16 seconds. Seven-ohmygawd.
The Vandals were valiant, keeping the Huskies down the rest of the quarter, and even threatening to score themselves. Then the Huskies dropped a 28-point quarter on them — tied for the third-biggest second period in UW history — and it was cocktails on the veranda for the balance of the afternoon.
Browning tied the program record with five TD passes — two each to Pettis and WR John Ross, and a 30-yarder that was all WR Chico McClatcher jukes and afterburner — to make for the fifth game in a row of at least 40 points, a school record. The 248 points in that streak is the highest since 251 in 1970-71.
The first-team defense pitched a shutout, and junior backup LB Connor O’Brien had the final score with a 46-yard pick-six.
But the superlatives are cheapened by the caliber of opposition. The players can do nothing about it except their best. There is no evidence of let-up.
“I just don’t feel that this team will get complacent,” he said. “I do think that it is hard to come out every week and play your absolute best. The first two weeks, they were pretty good.”
The Huskies are no more guilty of scheduling over-matched opposition than any other BCS school, although this year they are the Cruelty Cup winners with all non-conference games soft as a down pillow.
But the machine of college football needs the fuel of French pastry to make the big schools look bigger and better. The smaller schools tin-cup their way into beatings in order to get the cash to survive on the fringes of the big time.
Idaho is falling off the fringe. Back in the 1905 day, no one would have believed it.