This was some kind of impressive ass-whooping!
It’s hard for me to really tell you who’s got the best offense in college football. I don’t watch all the games; I don’t follow any other team all that closely. If you wanted to argue against the Huskies before this past Saturday, I’d say look no further than their relatively pedestrian rushing stats through the first two games. And while it’s only been one game, I don’t know if you can necessarily hold that against ’em now.
Oh sure, Michael Penix had his usual brilliant game (27/35, 473 yards, 4 TDs), and that’s all while playing only two drives into the second half. To that point, the Huskies put up all 41 of their points in this contest (somehow still punting twice in the process), and it was time to lean on the Spartans and salt this game away largely on the ground. You could argue that even on the two second-half field goal drives, we just settled for them to give our kicker practice, as I would have no confidence in Michigan State whatsoever to stop us on 4th & 6 in the red zone.
That’s all to say that this game could’ve been MUCH more lopsided, and we took pity on our future Big Ten league-mates.
But, we also found some success on the ground, and I think that’s going to be a huge boost for us going forward! Dillon Johnson looked absolutely unstoppable on his only 8 carries, netting 71 yards on an 8.9 yards per carry average. And Tybo Rogers mopped up beautifully, carrying it 15 times for 74 yards, earning himself a bigger role in this offense going forward. All told – including Richard Newton’s 4 carries for 29 yards – the Huskies ran it 33 times for 177 yards, or a 5.4 yards per carry average. Simply outstanding!
Again, though, it was all about the passing game, with Dylan Morris chipping in for 63 yards on 2/4 passing, with a pick. Rome Odunze led all receivers with 8 for 180. Ja’Lynn Polk had 5 for 118 and a TD. Jalen McMillan had 4 for 96 before a scary-looking injury that might keep him out for the short term, but shouldn’t keep him out for the long. And, new fan favorite Jack Westover had 4 catches for 37 yards and a whopping 3 TDs! I don’t know how I don’t remember him previously (probably because, as Tight End University, Washington does nothing but churn out elite tight ends), but he’s already got 4 scores on the young season, on only 10 receptions (all he does … catch touchdowns!).
The defense, though, really took a step forward in this one. It’s not easy to hold any team to just one score – which took place on their final possession of the game, after an 11-play, 99-yard drive that took up over 5 minutes of game clock, against presumably nothing but backups – but, to go on the road, against a major Power 5 opponent, and absolutely dismantle them, was better than I could’ve possibly imagined.
We had 7 tackles for loss, 2 sacks (both by ZTF), an interception, and two passes defended. We limited them to 53 yards rushing on 27 carries, and we limited them to a combined 208 yards passing on 14/35! They had no answer for us whatsoever.
It’s hard to say if that’s going to be deemed a quality win or not. I just don’t think they’re in the same universe as us. They might go on to be okay in the Big Ten this year, but my hunch is they won’t be any better than 6-6, and that’s probably the best-case scenario, considering word is out that their maligned head coach is about to be fired (if it hasn’t happened already).
The Huskies sit at #8 in the nation, but we’ve definitely closed the gap on Penn State. It feels like we’re one or two more impressive victories away from leapfrogging a team or two, and that’s without the need for anyone ahead of us to actually lose.
On the docket this week is a home night game against Cal. Cal is 2-1, with their only blemish being a late touchdown given up to Auburn at home in a 14-10 defeat. Auburn is currently 3-0, so that should probably be qualified as a “good loss” for them. Nevertheless, Cal’s defense is no joke, so if we were looking for a test, this might be the best one we see all year (at least, until Utah comes to town in November).
It gets real now. I know we’re at home, the game is at night, and for anyone willing to stay up past 10:30pm on the east coast, this will be the marquee matchup of the timeslot, but you’re not looking for style points here. The Huskies are favored by 21 points, but if I were a gambling man, I’d take the Golden Bears to cover. And I’d certainly take the under of 63 points scored in the game. Cal hasn’t had a ton of success against us, but in our last four outings (no game in the COVID year), we’re 2-2, and every game has been decided by one score or less. They’ve never really figured out how to field a competent offense under Justin Wilcox, but his defenses have been underrated and nasty to go up against. I’m not particularly looking forward to this one (it’s a good thing I’ll be at my bachelor party in New Orleans this weekend).
After that, we go to Arizona, and it was announced that will also be a 7pm start time. So, you know, hope you enjoy the night games! Hope nothing too fucked up and weird happens!