SANTA CLARA, Calif. >> Taylor Rapp returned one of his two interceptions for a touchdown and Myles Gaskin ran for 159 yards to help No. 4 Washington strengthen its case for a playoff berth with a 41-10 victory over No. 9 Colorado in the Pac-12 championship game Friday night.
The Huskies (12-1, No. 4 CFP) broke open a close game when Rapp intercepted Sefo Liufau’s passes on the first two drives of the second half for a touchdown and to set up a field goal that made it 24-7.
Washington rolled from there to its first conference title since 2000 with a performance likely to keep the Huskies in the top four when the College Football Playoff bids are handed out Sunday.
It was a rough day for Colorado (10-3, No. 8 CFP) and Liufau, who was knocked out of the game after injuring his right leg on a sack on the Buffaloes’ first drive of the game. He returned to start the second half and threw three interceptions, including one on the first play from scrimmage that Rapp returned 35 yards for a score.
Liufau threw another interception on the ensuing drive and Colorado could never recover. Even a circus kick return in the third quarter couldn’t help the Buffaloes. Anthony Julmisse returned a kick to near midfield and fumbled. Phillip Lindsay scooped up and ran down to the 2 but Colorado was held to a field goal.
Colorado: From the opening kickoff that went out of bounds, little went right for the Buffaloes, who were unable to cap an impressive turnaround season with a conference title. Liufau’s injury didn’t help the cause. Steven Montez went 5 for 12 for 60 yards in the first half and was unable to generate any consistent offense and Liufau was even worse when he returned. He threw as many interceptions in the third quarter (3) as he had all season and was just 2 for 12 for 12 yards after coming back into the game.
Washington: The usually efficient Jake Browning struggled throwing the ball but it didn’t matter as the Huskies dominated the game with 265 yards on the ground behind Gaskin and Lavon Coleman (101 yards). Browning went just 9 for 24 for 118 yards but did throw two TDs. His second touchdown was far from his prettiest throw of the season. With a defender draped all over him, Browning threw a ball up from grabs that John Ross caught in front of Chidobe Awuzie and ran in 19 yards for the score. Browning’s 42 TDs are one shy of Jared Goff’s Pac-12 record.
Colorado: The Buffaloes must wait to see if they will remain ahead of No. 11 USC in the playoff rankings and get a Rose Bowl bid if Washington goes to the playoff or likely head to the Alamo Bowl if they drop behind the Trojans.
Washington: A likely berth in the playoff.