Washington Rutgers Football

Washington quarterback Jake Browning (3) looks to pass during the first half against Rutgers on Friday in Piscataway, N.J.

MISSOULA — To say No. 7 Washington is a good opponent would be an understatement.

Intimidating is a better word. Formidable is another.

This year's Washington Husky team — at No. 7 — is the highest ranked FBS opponent the Griz have likely ever played. The highest ranked team before this? 1951's Husky team at No. 8.

Montana didn't fare so well in that game, as the Huskies drubbed the Griz 58-7 66 years ago. That was the last time these two schools played.

On Sept. 22, 1951, Washington dominated in all facets of the game and set records that are still in place today. 

The Griz only crossed midfield once in that game. They had only three first downs, one completed pass, three interceptions, 9 passing yards and 42 yards of total offense. 

All of those marks are still among defensive records for the Huskies. Montana records for those categories were not available. 

On the flip side, the Huskies scored nine touchdowns and had nine punt returns — marks that are also still Washington records. 

The then-Daily Missoulian didn't hold back in its account of the game:

"Bursting at the seams with unneeded power, the Washington Huskies steam rollered Montana in a non-conference football opener Saturday, 58-7, with two reserves cooly filling the gap left by the injured All-America Quarterback Don Heinrich.

"A crowd estimated at 33,000 dozed in the sunlight through touchdown after monotonous touchdown, Washington grinding out seven on the ground and passing for a pair.

"Montana learned early that hitting the Washington line was like tossing pebbles at a barn. Its aerial attack merely fanned the still air without becoming a threat."

Montana fans can only hope that their Griz don't play as poorly on Saturday as they did 66 years ago. 

Scouting Washington's offense

QB Jake Browning: Browning is the real deal. He was just shy of being a Heisman Trophy finalist as a sophomore after throwing 243-of-391 last season for 3,340 yards, 43 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Those 43 touchdowns tied a Pac-12 record.

Even though he's just a junior, he already has a big trophy case. He was the 2016 Pac-12 Player of the Year and named to the All-Pac-12 first team. And he's among the preseason favorites to be a Heisman Trophy finalist. 

In Washington's opener against Rutgers, Browning completed 17-of-30 passes for 284 yards with two touchdowns. Expect his numbers to be even more elevated against Montana. 

"He's confident," Montana coach Bob Stitt said about Browning on Monday. "He can make all the throws. He can throw the ball downfield. He's got touch on the deep ball. ... He's got a quick release and he's tough. 

"Teams take on the personality of their quarterback and they got a good one. He makes their team better, not just their offense, their whole team will be better because he's on the field ... He's a special one and it's gonna be a definite challenge for our defense."

WR Dante Pettis: Pettis is a force to be reckoned with as well. He's stepped into the limelight after John Ross, a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist, forewent his final season of eligibility to declare for the NFL Draft. He was the ninth overall pick. 

Last week against Rutgers, Pettis caught three passes for 85 yards and returned a punt for a touchdown on special teams. Pettis will be hard to stop, especially since he is within striking distance of breaking a Pac-12 record for career punt return TDs. 

RB Myles Gaskin: Gaskin has been a staple of the Washington offense since his freshman season two years ago. Entering his junior campaign, his dual-threat combo elevates his game even further. He had 59 yards on seven carries and five receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown against Rutgers. 

He's been a 1,000-yard rusher every year of his career at Washington. Expect him to chip away at that goal again on Saturday.

Scouting Washington's defense

Linebackers: Ben Burr-Kirven's season started out on a high note last week. The junior posted a career-high 11 tackles against Rutgers. He's just one of Washington's talented linebacking corps. 

Senior linebacker Kieshawn Bierria is an athletic player who led the nation in fumble recoveries last season. He had seven tackles in their opener last week. 

DB Taylor Rapp: He's only a sophomore, but he's as good as they come. Last season, Rapp took home the Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year award and was tabbed to the Freshman All-America squad after finishing the season with 53 tackles. He started the season at Rutgers with seven tackles. Expect more from the young defensive back this weekend. 

Defensive line: If you thought Montana's defensive line was big, you haven't seen Washington's. 

Anchored by juniors Vita Vea and Greg Gaines, the Husky D-Line is as tough as they come. Vea stands at 6-foot-5 and weighs 340 pounds. He's a preseason AP All-American too. Gaines stands at 6-foot-2 and weighs 322 pounds. 

"Washington against Alabama. Best offensive line and they're getting a push," Stitt said of the Husky defensive line. "Washington against USC. They're getting a push. They're very, very talented and powerful. Our O-line's gonna have to eat their Wheaties."

Sign up for our Cat-Griz Insider newsletter

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Amie Just covers Griz football for the Missoulian, among other things. Follow her on Twitter @Amie_Just or email her at Amie.Just@406mtsports.com.

Load comments