Winners, Losers from Washington's Victory at California
On Friday night, the Washington Huskies (5-4, 3-3 Pac-12) took care of business on the road, closing out the California Golden Bears (3-7, 2-5) in Berkeley, 21-13.
The contest was one of the ugliest college football games in recent memory, as the two Pac-12 North rivals combined for an alarmingly awful eight turnovers. There were also 18 penalties for a combined 163 yards.
But the tumultuous tug-of-war wasn't all bad, as the game featured its fair share of standout performances on both sidelines.
Sophomores Bishop Sankey and Austin Seferian-Jenkins led the way for Washington, while senior C.J. Anderson did everything in his power to lift Cal.
With the win, the Huskies inched closer to bowl eligibility and have a very legitimate shot to run the table and finish 8-4. The Bears, meanwhile, dropped their seventh game of the season and are officially knocked out of bowl contention.
Here are the winners and losers from UW's prime-time triumph over California.
Winner: Bishop Sankey
Bishop Sankey is emerging as a bona fide superstar for Washington and his performance on Friday may have been his crowning achievement.
The sophomore running back was electrifying in Berkeley, gashing the California defense for 189 yards and two TDs on a season-high 29 carries. Sankey also hauled in an eight-yard reception to bolster his already impressive outing.
The 5'10", 200-pound wrecking ball did it all against the Golden Bears, mixing powerful drives up the middle with elusive, tackle-breaking moves on the edge.
If Sankey can keep up his ridiculous productivity, the Huskies could find themselves in a very respectable bowl game by season's end.
Loser: UW Offensive Line
Despite the winning effort, head coach Steve Sarkisian will have a lot to focus on this week in practice.
First and foremost, will be filling the holes in the Huskies' offensive line.
QB Keith Price had virtually no time to think on Friday night, which limited the ability of the UW offense to find its footing in Berkeley.
Price was hurried 10 times and ended up taking three sacks, but if it weren't for his mobility and escapability, there would have been many more.
It seemed like Price was flushed out of the pocket by Cal's defensive pressure on every play, forcing the junior signal-caller into some precarious open-field situations.
I have to credit the O-line for opening holes in the running game, but the inability to stop an injury-riddled Golden Bear D-line is inexcusable.
If the Huskies don't find some answers quickly, next week's matchup with the Utah Utes and DT Star Lotulelei could be very problematic.
Winner: Chris Harper
There's plenty of blame to go around for Cal's embarrassing effort against Washington, but WR Chris Harper's hands are clean.
The freshman phenom exploded on Friday, hauling in seven catches for 101 yards, which helped ease the pain of losing do-it-all wideout Keenan Allen to a knee injury.
Harper also scored the Bears' only touchdown of the game, taking an end-reverse 14 yards and diving to the pylon for the score.
The 6'0", 170-pound playmaker was seemingly unstoppable, finding the holes in UW's zone coverage all night long. Harper notched a number of highlight-reel plays, including a miraculous one-handed grab and a few crazy sideline completions.
Look for Harper to further solidify his role as the California offense learns to live without Allen.
Loser: Cal Red-Zone Offense
If I had to choose one word to describe the California offense, it definitely wouldn't be "clutch."
Coming into the matchup with Washington, Cal ranked No. 88 in the country in red-zone efficiency, and the Golden Bears' short-field woes continued on Friday.
On four trips to the red zone, Cal scored just one touchdown, Chris Harper's 14-yard reverse that tied the game 7-7 late in the first half.
The Bears' other three red-zone possessions were far from fruitful, as one ended with a lost fumble and two ended with field goals. And while it may seem harsh to criticize scoring plays, both of the drives that resulted in field goals featured a California 1st-and-goal.
It's unclear whether the problem lies in play-calling or execution, but the Golden Bears need to find an answer if they hope to find any kind of stability on offense.
Winner: Austin Seferian-Jenkins
While Bishop Sankey was running wild at Memorial Stadium, Austin Seferian-Jenkins was limping his way into the record books.
The sophomore tight end put on a clinic against California, despite hobbling on an injured ankle for the entire second half.
Seferian-Jenkins, who also suits up for the Washington basketball team, showed off his jump ball skills in Berkeley, tallying eight receptions for 152 yards and a touchdown.
The 6'6", 220-pound monster is simply a matchup nightmare, as he can run past lumbering linebackers and climb the ladder on helpless defensive backs.
With his epic performance on Friday, Seferian-Jenkins became UW's all-time leader in receiving yards for a tight end and tied the Huskies' single-season TE receptions record (48).
If Seferian-Jenkins stays in Seattle for his junior and senior seasons, he will shatter every tight end record in the books.
Loser: Steve Williams
Steve Williams is not a loser.
In fact, the junior CB has been a force for the Golden Bears this season, recording 54 tackles, three interceptions and nine pass break-ups.
But against Washington on Friday, Williams was given with the impossible task of covering Austin Seferian-Jenkins one-on-one.
Needless to say, the 5'10", 185-pound defensive back was outmatched physically and had no chance to contain the monstrous tight end.
Williams did everything he could to battle Seferian-Jenkins, playing press and trying to swat down the bevy of jump balls coming from QB Keith Price. But regardless of how well Williams played the ball, Seferian-Jenkins was just a few inches better.
On Seferian-Jenkins' one touchdown catch, Williams defended the pass beautifully, timing his jump perfectly to tip the ball away. Unfortunately for the Bears, Seferian-Jenkins was beyond perfect, hauling in the juggled ball as he fell to the ground for the go-ahead score.
Winner: Nick Forbes
The defensive MVP in Cal's loss to Washington was, without a doubt, linebacker Nick Forbes.
The 6'1", 236-pound sophomore was all over the field on Friday, recording 11 tackles and a red-zone interception. Forbes was also the beneficiary of a couple UW mistakes, recovering two fumbles in the game.
On a day when the California defense was decimated by injury, Forbes came up big, severely limiting the Huskies' damage on offense.
Loser: Ball Security
This game was ugly...there's really no other way to say it.
Washington and Cal combined for eight turnovers, including six by way of the fumble. It seemed like nobody wanted the pigskin, as players on both teams continuously put the ball on the ground.
In all, five different ball carriers fell victim to the contagious fumble-itis. And if it weren't for a few fortunate bounces on some other would-be turnovers, that number likely would have been higher.
For the Huskies, this problem could prove to be fatal as the season progresses since they still have road dates in Pullman and Boulder, two cities known for unforgiving November conditions.
Winner: C.J. Anderson
There weren't too many offensive highlights for Cal on Friday, but the play of C.J. Anderson was definitely one of them.
The senior tailback rumbled for 160 yards on 22 carries, including a 64-yard scamper on 3rd-and-23 from the California 16-yard line.
Anderson's beastly 7.3 yards-per-carry average gave the Bears a huge boost and took the pressure off of QB Zach Maynard.
He also got involved in the passing game, hauling in two balls for 11 yards. And, most importantly, Anderson did not fumble against Washington, something that many of his teammates can't say.
Loser: Jeff Tedford
California head coach Jeff Tedford is on the hot seat. We all know that.
But when commentators are debating a coach's job security on national television, that's never a good sign.
The 2012 season was supposed to be a glorious rebirth for the California football program, returning home to a revamped Memorial Stadium after $321-million worth of renovations.
But the on-field results have been horribly underwhelming, and the critics are growing louder as the losses pile up.
After falling to the Huskies on Friday, Tedford's Golden Bears dropped to 3-7 overall and had their faintest postseason hopes dashed. And with Oregon and Oregon State next up on the schedule, it's highly likely that Cal finishes with nine notches in the loss column.
Tedford and the Bears have now missed out on a bowl game in two of the last three seasons, a fact that doesn't sit well with UC-Berkeley's passionate alumni fanbase.
Because of contractual obligations, the University would have to pay big bucks to kick Tedford to the curb, so it's entirely possible he returns for a 12th season in Berkeley. But if 2013 doesn't spell drastic improvement, you can count on a coaching change at Strawberry Canyon.