SEATTLE – Jon Embree observed his 46th birthday here Saturday; a celebration was out of the question. In lieu of blowing out candles, Washington blew out Embree’s first Colorado football team 52-24, dealing the Buffaloes their 21st consecutive road loss and fourth straight defeat this season.
UW won for the eighth time in nine games, dating to last season, and improved to 5-1 overall. The Huskies also remained unbeaten (3-0) in the Pac-12 Conference. CU, meanwhile, slipped to 1-6 overall and remained winless (0-3) in its new league. The Buffs, who haven’t won away from Boulder since 2007, return to Folsom Field next Saturday to face No. 9 Oregon.
The Huskies tagged and bagged this one early, scoring on all six of their first-half possessions (five touchdowns, one field goal) to lead 38-10 by intermission. Their first-half point total was the school’s most since scoring 45 against Oregon State in 1999.
None of UW’s first-half touchdown drives – marches of 65, 74, 70, 70 and 56 yards – required more than 3:44. The Huskies were denied the end zone only by the clock: Taking possession for a sixth time with 1:08 left before the half ended, they simply ran out of time and settled for a 41-yard Erik Folk field on the half’s final play.
The Buffs, who have allowed an average of 42 points in their past four games and 500-plus yards in total offense in the past two, played most of Saturday’s final three quarters minus leading rusher Rodney Stewart (sprained knee). Starting inside linebacker Doug Rippy (knee) also left early, and starting jack linebacker Josh Hartigan (stinger) didn't dress for the game. Top receiver Paul Richardson (knee) did not make the trip. Stewart and Rippy likely are out for Oregon and beyond.
CU made a game of it for a mere two series, matching UW’s 65-yard opening scoring drive with a 70-yard march to tie the score at 7-7 on Tyler Hansen’s 5-yard TD pass to Kyle Cefalo and Will Oliver’s PAT. It was the Buffs' first score on an opening drive this season.
That happened at the 9:42 mark of the first quarter – and from that point forward, the first half (and ultimately the afternoon) was under the Huskies’ control. When Oliver kicked his 46-yard field goal – CU’s only other first-half scoring – UW was comfortably ahead 21-10.
The Huskies’ first-half offensive work was staggering. Everything worked; their 42 plays gained 379 yards in total offense, including 230 passing by quarterback Keith Price. Aided by CU’s depleted secondary, Price look like Heisman Trophy material; four of his 18 first-half completions (23 attempts) went for touchdowns.
Price played only two series into the second half, coming out in favor of backup Nick Montana with 1:08 left in the third quarter. Price led UW to scores on seven of eight possessions, completing 21-of-28 passes for 257 yards and the four TDs.
UW tailback Chris Polk, the Pac-12’s second-leading rusher, ran 18 times for 117 yards – five below his average. The Huskies totaled 562 yards in total offense, topping the 553 Stanford hung on the Buffs in their previous game. CU managed 269 yards in total offense - only 62 rushing.
The Huskies’ lone rushing score in the first half was courtesy of Kevin Smith on a 22-yard flanker reverse. It was historic in the sense that it was UW’s first on the ground since 2009 by anyone other than former QB Jake Locker or Polk.
Apparently finding a faint spark at intermission, the Buffs scored on their first series of the second half. Tailback Tony Jones’ 2-yard plunge capped a 74-yard drive, and Oliver’s extra point made the count 38-17. But two series later, UW matched it with a 26-yard TD run by Jesse Callier – the first of his career – that shot the Huskies’ advantage back to 28 points (45-17).
When Price’s departure brought on Montana, the Buffs got an immediate break. On his first play, Montana fumbled after being sacked from the blind side by Chidera Udo-Diribe. Following defensive end David Golberg’s recovery at the UW 36, CU scored six plays later on a 1-yard Jones run off right tackle. Oliver’s extra point kick made the score 45-24 with 13:34 remaining, but by then the Buffs’ goal had become one of masquerading for respectability.
The Huskies saw through it, punching up their final TD on a 3-yard run by Bishop Sankey with 2:32 to play. With Folk’s PAT, UW went up 52-24 – and Embree’s 46th birthday was anything but a party.