Wash­ing­ton hopes ti­tle leads to play­off berth

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Josh Dubow

Wash­ing­ton coach Chris Petersen is happy to let oth­ers do the pol­i­tick­ing when it comes to the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off. Wash­ing­ton has a fi­nal chance to state its case tonight in the Pac-12 ti­tle game.

Wash­ing­ton coach Chris Petersen is happy to let oth­ers do the pol­i­tick­ing and lob­by­ing when it comes to the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off.

He be­lieves what the fourth-ranked Huskies do on the field will speak loud enough. Wash­ing­ton has its fi­nal chance to state its case Fri­day night in the Pac-12 cham­pi­onship game against No. 9 Colorado.

“I have con­fi­dence that the pow­ers that be will get th­ese things right,” Petersen said. “I felt that way when I was at Boise and they usu­ally did. We’ll see how this plays out.”

Things are look­ing good for the Huskies (11-1, No. 4 CFP) after they moved up a spot in the play­off rank­ings this week. One more win and they will likely make the semi­fi­nals in Petersen’s third sea­son at the helm. Wash­ing­ton had not reached dou­ble fig­ures in wins for a sea­son in the 13 years be­fore Petersen’s ar­rival.

But Petersen has built Wash­ing­ton into a power just like he did at Boise State when he led the Bron­cos to seven straight dou­ble-digit win sea­sons and two BCS bowl games.

“I ex­pected to be good from the sec­ond we got here,” he said. “I think that’s what play­ers expect, I think that’s what coaches expect, and when it’s not like that, you’re frus­trated as all getout and try­ing to fig­ure out why it’s not right. With that be­ing said, we all know it takes some time to de­velop a pro­gram and how you’re go­ing to do things.”

Mike MacIn­tyre had a much tougher turn­around task with the Buf­faloes (102, No. 8 CFP). Colorado was 25-61 in seven sea­sons be­fore MacIn­tyre arrived from San Jose State.

But he me­thod­i­cally re­built the pro­gram to where it is now a sur­prise par­tic­i­pant in the Pac-12 ti­tle game with an out­side chance of mak­ing it to the play­off with a win over the Huskies and some help else­where.

“I just think a lot of peo­ple on the out­side didn’t expect us to be here,” quar­ter­back Sefo Li­u­fau said. “They want UW for play­off im­pli­ca­tions or any­thing like that. Ba­si­cally the most im­por­tant thing is what we want in the locker room and we want to win.”

Here are some other things to watch:

BIG TIME QBS: Both teams rely heav­ily on their quar­ter­backs. Wash­ing­ton’s Jake Brown­ing was se­lected as the top of­fen­sive player in the con­fer­ence after throw­ing for a school-record 40 TDs and only seven INTs. Brown­ing ranks fourth in the FBS in pass­ing ef­fi­ciency (181.6). Colorado’s Li­u­fau wasn’t quite as ef­fi­cient but was almost as ef­fec­tive de­spite miss­ing time with an an­kle in­jury. He threw for 2,150 yards and 11 TDs and ran for 481 yards and seven scores.

Dom­i­nant De­fense

The game fea­tures the top two de­fenses in the con­fer­ence with both the Huskies and Buf­faloes al­low­ing just 4.7 yards per play. They are both led by their sec­on­daries with Wash­ing­ton’s Budda Baker and Sid­ney Jones mak­ing first-team all-con­fer­ence and Colorado’s Chi­dobe Awuzie and Tedric Thompson earn­ing sec­ond-team se­lec­tions.

Take It Away

Both teams have thrived on turnovers this sea­son. Wash­ing­ton led the na­tion with 30 take­aways and a plus-18 turnover mar­gin. Colorado was sec­ond in the Pac-12 at plus-10 in turnovers.

On The Grass

The Huskies will play their first game of the year on nat­u­ral grass. The play­ing sur­face at Levi’s Sta­dium has had is­sues with foot­ing over the years but has been bet­ter this sea­son. With the 49ers hav­ing been on the road last week, the field should be in good shape.

“I shouldn’t say it doesn’t bother us (be­cause) we’re the only team in the coun­try that hasn’t played on grass this year, I think,” Petersen said. “But the grass is good, so it’s like peo­ple talk­ing about go­ing to Utah and play­ing in the al­ti­tude. I think it’s com­pletely over­rated. As long as it’s not a muddy field, we’re good to go.”

TED S. WAR­REN — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

In this file photo, Wash­ing­ton quar­ter­back Jake Brown­ing warms up be­fore an NCAA col­lege foot­ball game against Wash­ing­ton State, in Pull­man, Wash.

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