Seventh-ranked Washington didn’t deliver the sharpest opening performance but will be looking for its second straight win when it hosts FCS program Montana on Saturday. The Huskies didn’t lead for the first 26 minutes in their opener against Rutgers before posting a 30-14 victory.
Washington didn’t play like a team that was part of the College Football Playoff last season against the Scarlet Knights and coach Chris Petersen is well aware that improvement is needed. “We’ve still got a ton to clean up,” Petersen said at a press conference. “We’ve got to start faster, we’ve got to tackle better, but I think it was a good start out of the gate.” Senior receiver Dante Pettis took a punt 61 yards for the go-ahead score and his six career punt-return touchdowns tie the Pac-12 record set by California’s DeSean Jackson (2005-07). Montana might be overmatched physically by the Huskies but was sharp while recording a 45-23 victory over Valparaiso in its opener as former Kentucky backup quarterback Reese Phillips passed for 381 yards and four touchdowns.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network. LINE: None
ABOUT MONTANA (1-0): Phillips, a fifth-year senior, was 27-of-38 passing in the first start of his college career and the Grizzlies are hoping a guy who spent time in SEC stadiums won’t be in awe of the atmosphere in Seattle. Sophomore receiver Jerry Louie-McGee caught nine passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns against Valparaiso and junior Jeremy Calhoun (77 yards, two touchdowns) is the top running back. The Grizzlies allowed 450 yards in their opener but received solid play from senior linebacker James Banks (12 tackles) while junior safety Evan Epperly and sophomore safety Josh Sandry each nabbed interceptions.
ABOUT WASHINGTON (1-0): Junior quarterback Jake Browning passed for 284 yards and two touchdowns against Rutgers but his accuracy (17-of-30) was shaky and he vowed the offense will be vastly improved against the Grizzlies. All-America senior inside linebacker Azeem Victor will be back from a one-game suspension for violation of team rules to aid a defense that allowed 131 rushing yards and was kept on the field for more than 38 minutes. Redshirt freshman Byron Murphy intercepted two passes in his first college game as Washington looks for production from a revamped secondary.
1. Washington leads the series 16-1-1 but the most-recent meeting occurred in 1951.
2. Huskies sophomore CB Austin Joyner will sit again to complete a two-game suspension for violation of team rules.
3. Montana lost to Wyoming 17-12 in 2014 in its last game against an FBS foe, and was routed 42-16 by Tennessee in 2011 in its most-recent game against a Power 5 conference school.
PREDICTION: Washington 40, Montana 16