By Tony Castricone
September 7, 2018

The Washington Huskies (0-1) welcome in the North Dakota Fighting Hawks (1-0) for the UW’s 2018 home opener. Here are some things to keep an eye on:

A TEAM (FORMERLY) NAMED SIOUX
Those who aren’t familiar with FCS football might easily confuse the North Dakota Fighting Hawks with an old rival of theirs, the North Dakota State Bison. The Bison have won the FCS national championship six of the last seven seasons, while the Hawks, known as the Fighting Sioux until 2015, have just transitioned into FCS football within the last 10 years.

That said, UND has enjoyed its share of success at the Division II and FCS level. The Hawks claimed the Division II national championship in 2001 and were runners-up in 2003. Since making the move to the FCS ranks, they’ve gone 56-56, including a trip to the playoffs as Big Sky champs in 2016.

The Hawks are 1-9 all-time against FBS opponents, with the win coming in 2015 over Wyoming 24-13. Hawks running back John Santiago, now a senior All-American, ran for 148 yards and two TDs against the Cowboys in his first collegiate game.

North Dakota lost at Utah last year 37-16, but trailed by just 11 early in the fourth quarter. No. 9 Washington will be the highest-ranked opponent North Dakota has ever faced.

MORE ON NORTH DAKOTA
The Hawks will start Nate Ketteringham at quarterback, who threw three touchdowns and ran for another in UND’s season opener. He started his career at Sacramento State, and actually threw 13 touchdown passes in 2015, which was the same year Sacramento State played at Husky Stadium in week two and lost to the Dawgs 49-0. Ketteringham did not log any stats in that game.

Their backup quarterback is Andrew Zimmerman, a co-captain and Monroe, Washington native who grew up 30 miles from Husky Stadium.

They run a 3-4 look defensively, led by Mason Bennett and Austin Cieslak up front. Cieslak had a pick six against Portland State last year and Bennett came up with two sacks last week, as the Hawks totaled seven sacks and 10 TFLs as a team in holding Mississippi Valley State to minus-27 rushing yards.

ENGINE ENGINE NUMBER 9
Husky running back Myles Gaskin surpassed Napoleon Kaufman on UW’s career rushing charts with a 25-yard run in the third quarter of Washington’s game against Auburn last Saturday. The senior from O’Dea High School in Seattle enters the game with 4,130 career rushing yards, ahead of Kaufman’s career mark of 4,106.

But Gaskin has a chance to break another Husky record this Saturday. He enters the game with 20 career 100-yard rushing performances, second only to Chris Polk’s mark of 21 such games. He had eight games over the century mark his freshman year, followed by six his sophomore season and six more last year as a junior. Here are Gaskin’s 100 yard games:

2015: Sacramento State (146), USC (134), Oregon (155), Stanford (108), Arizona State (108), Oregon State (127), Washington State (138), Southern Miss (181).
2016: Stanford (100), Oregon (197), Oregon State (128), Utah (151), Arizona State (127), Colorado (159).
2017: Colorado (202), Oregon State (113), UCLA (169), Oregon (123), Stanford (120), Washington State (192).

The Huskies are 11-1 the last two seasons when Gaskin goes for triple figures on the ground.

THE NORTH POLE BOWL
Saturday’s game will be the first ever meeting between Division I’s northernmost football programs. The Huskies are the furthest FBS program from the equator, while the Fighting Hawks pace the FCS in earliest winter sunsets. Here’s a Division I breakdown:

City State Degrees N University Division
Grand Forks ND 47.9253 University of North Dakota FCS
Seattle WA 47.6062 University of Washington FBS
Cheney WA 47.4874 Eastern Washington University FCS
Fargo ND 46.8772 North Dakota State University FCS
Missoula MT 46.8721 University of Montana FCS
Moscow ID 46.7324 University of Idaho FCS
Pullman WA 46.7298 Washington State University FBS
Bozeman MT 45.677 Montana State University FCS
Portland OR 45.5122 Portland State University FCS
Minneapolis MN 44.9778 University of Minnesota FBS
Orono ME 44.8831 University of Maine FCS
Burlington VT 44.4759 University of Vermont FCS
Brookings SD 44.3114 South Dakota State University FCS

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RECENT FCS OPPONENTS

The Huskies have played one FCS opponent per season since the 2011 campaign. During the Jake Browning era, the Huskies are outscoring their FCS foes 153-10. Here’s how the Dawgs have fared against the Division Formerly Known as I-AA:

Date Opponent Result UW Opp
9/9/2017 MONTANA W 63 7
9/17/2016 PORTLAND STATE W 41 3
9/12/2015 SACRAMENTO STATE W 49 0
9/6/2014 EASTERN WASHINGTON W 59 52
9/21/2013 IDAHO STATE W 56 0
9/15/2012 PORTLAND STATE W 52 13
9/3/2011 EASTERN WASHINGTON W 30 27

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THIRD DOWN DEFENSE
The Huskies had a hard time getting off the field on third down in their Fiesta Bowl loss to Penn State to finish last season, and some of those same struggles continued against Auburn in Atlanta last weekend. PSU converted 13 of 17 third downs last year in Glendale, and while Auburn wasn’t quite as efficient, the Tigers came up big on third down when it really mattered.

Both Auburn touchdowns came on 3rd and 7. The Tigers actually converted 3rd and 6+ at a higher percentage than they converted 3rd and <5.

3rd & Yd Line Play Yards 1st? Drive Result
7 UW 10 TOUCHDOWN PASS 10 YES TOUCHDOWN (6-0)
12 AUB 35 SLAYTON RECEPTION 18 YES FIELD GOAL (9-0)
6 UW 43 CRAIG-MYERS RECEPTION 24 YES FIELD GOAL (9-0)
5 UW 14 INCOMPLETE 0 NO FIELD GOAL (9-0)
5 UW 15 INCOMPLETE 0 NO MISSED FG
1 UW 43 0 YD RUN 0 NO FIELD GOAL (12-3)
7 UW 10 INCOMPLETE 0 NO FIELD GOAL (12-3)
9 AUB 28 PENALTY – DEF HOLDING 10 YES FIELD GOAL (15-6)
4 UW 38 7 YD RUN 7 YES FIELD GOAL (15-6)
9 UW 30 FUMBLE – AUB RECOVERS -5 NO FIELD GOAL (15-6)
4 AUB 41 8 YD PASS 8 YES END OF HALF
12 AUB 31 2 YD PASS 2 NO PUNT
5 AUB 25 INCOMPLETE 0 NO PUNT
1 AUB 34 6 YD PASS 6 YES PUNT
22 AUB 28 INCOMPLETE 0 NO PUNT
9 AUB 25 12 YD PASS 12 YES TOUCHDOWN (21-16)
7 UW 10 TOUCHDOWN RUN 10 YES TOUCHDOWN (21-16)
2 UW 39 4 YD RUN 4 YES END OF GAME

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North Dakota went 10 for 16 on third down in their season-opening win over Mississippi Valley State.

OFFENSE LOOKS FULLER
Junior wide receiver Aaron Fuller had the best game of his career, snagging seven catches for 135 yards, both career highs. Listen to what wide receiver coach Matt Lubick said on the Chris Petersen Show about the junior from McKinney, Texas:

BROWNING BEGINS ASCENT IN RECORD BOOKS
Senior quarterback Jake Browning is on the verge of breaking more UW records as he embarks upon his fourth and final season as the team’s starting quarterback.

He’s already thrown a school-record 79 touchdown passes in his career. His 13-yard strike to Quinten Pounds against Auburn pulled him even with Derek Anderson and Taylor Kelly for 12th all-time in Pac-12 history. Next up: Andrew Luck at 11th with 82 TDs. But it’s more than just touchdown tosses.

Browning is 820 yards shy of the UW record for most passing yards in a career, currently held by Cody Pickett (10,220). He was approaching Brock Huard’s record of 151 consecutive attempts without an interception before his streak was interrupted by Auburn’s Jamel Dean at 114.

He holds a 29-11 record as a starter, and will be starting his 41st game on Saturday. Interestingly enough, many of his career highs came as a freshman. The longest pass of his career was 81 yards his freshman year against Utah State. His 405 yards passing against Arizona State in 2015 is still a career high. The longest rush of his career is 25 yards, also as a frosh.

Most impressively, Browning’s touchdown-to-interception ratio is 48-to-none in the red zone.

Finally, Jake’s been quite impressive in his career as a punter, kicking it away 12 times for an average of 35.4 yards per boot. All 12 have pinned the opponent inside the 20. His career long is 50 yards, and he’s averaged more than 40 yards per punt over the last two seasons.

TURNOVER BATTLE
UW has gone 22-6 since the start of the 2016 season, and of the six games the Huskies have lost, turnovers (or lack of ability to generate takeaways) were a significant contributor in five of them.

Opponent Result Takeaways Giveaways Margin
2016 vs USC L, 13-26 2 2 0
2016 vs Alabama L, 7-24 0 3 -3
2017 at Arizona St. L, 7-13 0 0 0
2017 at Stanford L, 22-30 0 1 -1
2017 vs Penn St L, 28-35 3 1 +2
2018 vs Auburn L, 16-21 0 2 -2

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In the 22 wins, UW has generated 52 takeaways and committed just 19 turnovers, a margin of +33 for an average of an extra 1.50 possessions per game.

BOWMAN BROTHERS
After winning a state championship together at Bellevue High School five years ago, Shane Bowman and Ryan Bowman are hoping to win a national title together in college.

Shane, a senior defensive lineman, tallied a career-high four tackles and racked up his first career sack and first career forced fumble in the loss to Auburn last week.

Ryan, a sophomore edge rusher, led the Huskies in sacks with 5.5 a year ago. He earned three starts last year as a freshman walk-on and has since earned a scholarship.

Both brothers still live at home with their parents, and talked about the experience on the Life on Montlake Podcast earlier this year.

BIG JUMP FOR JAYLEN
Senior defensive lineman Jaylen Johnson played in 37 games his first three years, making three starts and tallying 39 tackles, an average of about one per game.

But Johnson was a wrecking ball up front against Auburn on Saturday, coming through with a career-high seven take downs.

Defensive line coach Ikaika Malloe says Johnson’s work in the weight room and attention to detail has led to a much more explosive player with a higher motor heading into his senior season.

OTHER DEFENSIVE CAREER HIGHS
The following Huskies had career highs in tackles on Saturday vs Auburn: Ben Burr-Kirven (13), DJ Beavers (8), Jaylen Johnson (7), Shane Bowman (4), Amandre Williams (3), Kyler Manu (2), Ariel Ngata (2). All eight of Beavers’ tackles were solo tackles.

It was the first game in Ngata’s UW career. The freshman from Reno redshirted last year.

Myles Bryant also came up with the first sack of his career, hitting Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham for a loss of 12.