SEATTLE (AP) — Standing behind a podium and facing a bank of television cameras, Washington quarterback Jake Browning was uncomfortable for the first time all night.
“This is weird,” Browning said.
He looked completely at ease while picking apart BYU in one of the finest passing performances in Washington’s rich QB history.
Browning completed 23 of 25 passes for 277 yards and one touchdown , and No. 11 Washington was thoroughly dominant on both sides in a 35-7 rout of No. 20 BYU on Saturday night.
Washington (4-1) watched Browning play with the poise and accuracy expected of a fourth-year starting quarterback and saw its defense suffocate the Cougars (3-2).
“I thought we were primed and ready for this kind of performance,” Browning said.
While he didn’t want the attention — and wasn’t sure where to put his hands standing at the podium — Browning’s performance was special. He fell just short of matching the NCAA record for highest completion percentage in a game with at least 20 attempts. Browning was 23 of 24 early in the fourth quarter when his pass attempt into the end zone caromed off the hands of Aaron Fuller and Ty Jones couldn’t pull in the deflection. If either had made the catch, Browning would have matched the mark set by Greyson Lambert of Georgia, who hit 24 of 25 passes in a 2015 win over South Carolina.
Browning’s 92 percent completion percentage was the highest ever by a Washington QB with at least 20 attempts, and fell just short of the Pac-12 record held by Rich Neuheisel of 92.6 percent set in 1983 against Washington.
“I think you saw one of the better versions of his whole game,” Washington coach Chris Petersen said of Browning.
Browning ran for a 9-yard touchdown in the final seconds of the first half to give Washington a 21-0 lead following a costly BYU turnover. He found Drew Sample on a 15-yard TD in the third quarter.
Browning hit his first 11 passes and his only incompletion of the first half came late in the second quarter on a pass intended for Fuller. He connected with eight different receivers, his favorite target being Fuller who had eight catches for 107 yards.
Salvon Ahmed rushed for a pair of touchdowns and Myles Gaskin added a 6-yard TD run for his 48th career rushing TD, moving him into a tie for sixth all-time in the Pac-12.
And for how good the Huskies were offensively, they may have been better on defense shutting down the Cougars who had Power Five road wins over Arizona and Wisconsin earlier this season.
“I think they just beat us. We didn’t give ourselves a chance and they’re a really good,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said.
The Huskies were on the verge of their first shutout of a ranked opponent since 1990 until a muffed punt led to Lopini Katoa 1-yard TD run with 41 seconds left against Washington’s backups. The Huskies last shutout of a ranked team came against Southern California nearly 30 years ago.
“I’d love to see the film of that last play and see if they got in or not,” Washington linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven said. “It’s definitely frustrating, you want to get that shut out.”
Tanner Mangum completed 18 of 21 passes for 160 yards, but BYU’s offense managed just seven first downs. The Cougars went three-and-out four times and had just one drive of longer than seven plays.
“As a team we made way too many mistakes to even have a chance in this game,” Sitake said. “Washington is a great team and you can’t give great teams that opportunity otherwise what happened tonight happens.”
BYU was poised to go into halftime trailing by only two scores after Peyton Henry missed a 40-yard field goal late in the second quarter. The Cougars needed to just run out the clock.
But on third-and-15 from their 17, Katoa fumbled at the end of a short run as he was hit by Ryan Bowman and Burr-Kirven. Burr-Kirven fell on the loose ball and three plays later, Browning weaved his way through the BYU defense for his 14th career rushing touchdown for a 21-0 lead.
BYU: The Cougars could not get its running game started. BYU finished with 34 yards on 28 carries and was unable to copy the blueprint of Arizona State a week ago who used a successful run game to create manageable third-down situations and keep the ball away from the Washington offense.
Washington: While Browning will deservedly receive a ton of praise, the Huskies run game was again fantastic. Ahmed and Gaskin combined for 167 yards.
Browning became Washington’s all-time leader in yards passing when he hit Sample on a 9-yard pass late in the second quarter, moving past Cody Pickett’s previous mark of 10,220 yards passing. Browning set the record in 208 fewer pass attempts than Pickett, who played at Washington between 1999-2003. Browning also reached 100 total touchdowns passing and rushing when he hit Sample on the first drive of the second half.
BYU: The Cougars host Utah State next Friday.
Washington: The Huskies are at winless UCLA next Saturday.