The Washington Huskies defeated the Utah Utes 31-24, proving that they’re a legitimate contender to win the College Football Playoff.

Make no mistake about it: this was an impressive win for Chris Petersen and the Huskies. Utah came into this contest ranked 17th in the country and tied for first place in the Pac-12 South. The Utes are also one the toughest teams to move the ball on, as its opponents entered the red zone 17 times in the first eight games. That’s only one more than No. 1 Alabama has allowed this season.

In other words: Utah was the toughest test that Washington has faced in 2016.

The Huskies passed this test with flying colors. Running backs Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman had a huge game, combining to rush 27 times for 211 yards. Yet, UW was also strong through the air on those occasions when it did throw, totaling 186 yards and two touchdowns on just 12 catches.

Of course, the defense deserves a “shout out” for its performance as well. The Washington secondary was a mile ahead of the Utah passing game, holding the Utes to 14 of 33 passing for 213 yards. And while the defense did give up some yards on the ground, it came up with some huge stops when it needed to, including a crucial three and out late in the game that forced Utah to punt from deep in its own territory. Washington returned that punt for a touchdown, which ended up being the difference in the ball game.

With the victory, the Huskies proved that they’re good enough to win the College Football Playoff. Sure, some experts will rightly question Washington’s strength of schedule since it played a very weak non-conference slate. However, the Huskies have shown that they’re more than capable of playing with physical teams like Alabama and Michigan by virtue of their wins over Stanford and Utah. While Washington still has a lot of work to do to win the Pac-12 and qualify for the College Football Playoff, there should be no doubts about whether the Dawgs can win the title if they make the field.

About Terry P. Johnson

Terry Johnson is the Associate Editor for The Student Section. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation.

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