Nov 19, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) waves to fans while walking to the locker room following a 54-7 victory against the Colorado Buffaloes at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

No. 13 Washington, rival Washington State vie for Apple Cup

Washington State ended a seven-game skid in the Apple Cup last season and looks to upend the season of No. 13 Washington when the fierce rivals meet in Pac-12 play on Saturday night at Pullman, Wash.

The Huskies (9-2, 6-2 Pac-12) still have an outside chance of reaching the conference title game but a loss would end that pursuit.

Washington enters with a five-game winning streak but first-year coach Kalen DeBoer has noticed a coveted piece of hardware is missing.

“We definitely don’t have that trophy in our trophy case right now,” DeBoer said. “I know that it means a lot. It is one of those two games that all of Husky Nation circles each year and we are looking forward to having a great week. I think that we are playing for a lot of stuff, it is not just that trophy.”

DeBoer has set the school record for most victories by a first-year coach and he was rewarded Tuesday with a contract extension through the 2028 season. His salary for next season was increased by $1 million to $4.2 with annual $100,000 raises to follow.

A big part of Washington’s rise is due to the stellar season put together by Indiana transfer quarterback Michael Penix Jr.

Penix leads the nation with 3,869 passing yards, which ranks second in school history behind Cody Pickett’s 4,458 yards in 2002. Penix has tossed 26 touchdowns against six interceptions.

Penix passes praise around in the same manner as his 66.7 completion percentage.

“My season wouldn’t be possible without this team,” Penix said. “I don’t really talk about just myself in general. It’s always about this team because team success would definitely put light on individual success.”

“At the end of the day, no matter what you do as an individual, if your team isn’t winning it’s no good.”

Washington State (7-4, 4-4) has won three straight as it looks to beat the Huskies in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2007-08.

The Cougars have won just six of the past 23 Apple Cups but put on a dominating show last season when they won 40-13 in Seattle. Washington State intercepted four passes and held Washington to just 200 yards.

“I thought they played free,” Cougars coach Jake Dickert said of the impressive win. “I thought that’s a big thing in a rivalry game, in a perceived big moment. Guys got to go cut it loose and be themselves and have fun and understand it’s going to be a little chippy. … Enjoy the moment. Be present in it.”

This is the first Apple Cup for Washington State quarterback Cameron Ward, who has passed for 2,772 yards, 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions this season.

While he said he is eager to add his name to the list of quarterbacks who won the Apple Cup, he also insisted Saturday’s matchup isn’t any bigger than any other game.

“There is a lot of energy around the building,” Ward said. “For me specifically, it’s just another game. I try to approach each and every game the same. This game has a bigger tag and has bigger history behind it and we want to win it for Washington State and all the Cougs out there.”

Washington State ranks 23rd in scoring defense at 19.8 points per game with star linebacker Daiyan Henley (102 tackles, 12 for losses) leading the way.

–Field Level Media

Nov 5, 2022; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Bo Nix (10) calls out for the ball in the third quarter against the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Arch-rival Washington visits Oregon

The Oregon Ducks moved from No. 8 to No. 6 in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings following last Saturday’s 49-10 rout of Colorado. To rise even higher, the Ducks likely will have to win out against three tough opponents, and potentially a fourth should they earn a place in the Pac-12 championship game.

The gauntlet starts Saturday afternoon at home in Eugene, Ore., where Autzen Stadium will be rocking when arch-rival No. 25 Washington visits.

The Ducks (8-1, 6-0 Pac-12) start a three-game stretch to end the regular season with home games against Washington and current CFP No. 13 Utah, followed by the annual in-state rivalry matchup at Oregon State.

Oregon has won 15 of the last 17 meetings with Washington, which includes three in a row, and eight of the last nine games in Eugene.

Oregon’s rise to prominence on the national scene means Washington, once the dominant program in the region, is not what it once was, although the Huskies (7-2, 4-2) have won three straight and jumped into the CFP Top 25 this week.

The rivalry is such that on Tuesday at Oregon’s practice, the Huskies’ fight song was played on repeat instead of the typical music used to get the players’ spirits up.

“This is one of those weeks that you don’t have to give any extra fuel for our players to be excited and ready to roll,” Ducks head coach Dan Lanning said this week. “They all understand the significance of this game, how important it is and they’re definitely ready to attack.”

Lanning also had to deal with speculation of him being a top candidate to return to the Southeastern Conference and head up the Auburn program, with Bryan Harsin recently fired. Lanning told reporters he is very happy at Oregon.

“The grass is not always greener. In fact, the grass is damn green in Eugene,” Lanning said. “I want to be here in Eugene for as long as Eugene will have me.”

Quarterback Bo Nix spent the week as the third player in conference history to win Offensive Player of the Week in three straight weeks, after leading Oregon over Colorado with two passing touchdowns, two rushing touchdowns and his first career receiving touchdown.

For the Huskies, quarterback Michael Penix Jr. might be the transfer with much of the attention on him were it not for Nix. Penix has set several school records this season, including the marks for single-game passing yards (516), completions (36) and total offense (529 yards).

Penix leads the nation in passing yards with 3,232. He has 23 touchdown passes to five interceptions.

Washington head coach Kalen DeBoer is in his first year guiding the program, and has come to understand how big the Washington-Oregon rivalry is for fans of both teams.

“I don’t know if there’s a speaking engagement I’ve went to where they haven’t emphasized how important it is to beat the Ducks,” DeBoer said. “It’s certainly important. It’s going to be fun, because we’ve put ourselves in a spot where it means something.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 22, 2022; Berkeley, California, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) stands on the field before the game against the California Golden Bears at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

No. 23 Oregon State still underdogs in Friday matchup with Washington

Oregon State was ranked in The Associated Press’ Top 25 this week for the first time since the end of the 2013 season.

In addition to their No. 24 spot in the AP poll, the Beavers landed No. 23 in the first College Football Playoff rankings of the season.

Still, when Oregon State next lines up to play – Friday night in Seattle – the Beavers (6-2, 3-2 Pac-12) will be underdogs to unranked Washington (6-2, 3-2) in a Pacific-12 Conference contest.

Beavers coach Jonathan Smith downplayed his team’s midseason move into the Top 25.

“It’s a little bit like preseason rankings — midseason rankings we’re not into and paying a bunch of attention to,” Smith said. “I will say, though, I think it’s a recognition of the work these guys put in and progress we’re making. But we’re definitely into postseason rankings.”

The Beavers had not been ranked in the regular season since 2012 when they finished 20th.

Oregon State has won three consecutive games behind backup quarterback Ben Gulbranson, who has replaced the injured Chance Nolan (concussion). Smith said Nolan took part in practices this week but is unlikely to be ready for Friday’s game.

“Still limited, didn’t do the whole thing, so we’ll see how he kind of responds and works through the week,” Smith said.

The Beavers will be without starting left guard Marco Brewer, who suffered a season-ending injury in their last game, a 42-9 victory against visiting Colorado on Oct. 22.

Gulbranson completed 14 of 22 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns in that game and freshman Damien Martinez carried 22 times for 178 yards and three TDs.

The Beavers spent part of their bye week preparing for Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who is completing 68% of his passes with 22 touchdowns and four interceptions. Penix leads the nation in passing yards per game with 366.8.

“This guy can change his arm angle, he’s just accurate. Tight windows. He likes to throw it and he wants to throw it first,” said Smith, who was the Huskies’ quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator in 2014-17 before returning to his alma mater. “Plenty of ability to extend (the play). A lot of quarterbacks have that, but this guy’s a great thrower of the football.”

The Huskies also had a bye last week after a 28-21 victory at California, their second in a row. Penix was 36-of-51 passing for 374 yards and two TDs in that game.

UW coach Kalen DeBoer, who was Penix’s offensive coordinator at Indiana before the two reunited this season when DeBoer was hired and Penis transferred in, said his quarterback’s importance goes beyond the statistics.

“We’re asking him to do a lot, and he’s lived up to that. He’s calm, cool and collected — I’ve said that all along. But he’s certainly leading the team in a big way, and not just the offense,” DeBoer said. “I think the whole offensive and defensive sides of the ball are certainly responding to him and what he brings.

“When he walks out of the tunnel each and every day onto the field, I think that there’s a lot of confidence in whatever he says. I think the whole team believes him.”

The Huskies have been hampered by injuries, especially in the secondary, but the bye week might have helped.

DeBoer said the projected starting cornerbacks and safeties coming into the season will all be healthy for the first time since the season opener.

“That gives you a lot of stability,” DeBoer said.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2022; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Oregon Ducks wide receiver Seven McGee (7) against Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Washington outlasts Arizona behind Michael Penix Jr. (5 TDs)

Michael Penix Jr. set the school record for passing yards in a game and accounted for five touchdowns as host Washington outlasted Arizona 49-39 in a Pac-12 Conference game on Saturday afternoon in Seattle.

Penix finished 36 of 44 for 516 yards and four TDs and also ran for a score. The previous school record was 455 yards, by Cody Pickett in 2001 against Arizona.

Washington (5-2, 2-2 Pac-12) topped the 500-yard mark (595) for the fourth time this season and improved to 5-0 at home. The Huskies had lost their last two on the road.

Arizona (3-4, 1-3) made it interesting late, cutting an 18-point deficit to three with 9:51 to go, but Cameron Davis iced it with a 19-yard TD run with 5:30 remaining.

The Wildcats got 400 passing yards and four TDs from Jayden de Laura, his third 400-yard game this season.

Up 21-14 at the half thanks to a 4-yard TD catch by Sam Adams II with eight seconds left in the second quarter, Washington needed only 45 seconds to double the lead. Penix hit Rome Odunze deep for a 45-yard TD to make it 28-14.

Jonah Coleman scored on a 3-yard run to get Arizona within 28-21 with 12:16 left in the third, only to see Penix score on an 8-yard run four minutes later to extend Washington’s edge to 14 again.

After a career-long 48-yard field goal by Arizona’s Tyler Loop, Penix and Odunze connected on another long one, a 48-yard score to put the Huskies up 42-24 late in the third.

Washington jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a 23-yard catch by Jalen McMillan, the seventh consecutive game the Huskies have scored on their opening drive. They went for it on fourth-and-2 in the red zone and were stuffed, and Arizona capitalized with a 46-yard TD pass to Tetairoa McMillan to tie it with 1:40 left in the first quarter.

Davis scored a 1-yard run on a direct snap to put Washington up 14-7 early in the second, but Arizona evened the game on a 39-yard Dorian Singer TD catch with 2:23 left before halftime.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2022; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils running back Daniyel Ngata (4) runs against Washington Huskies safety Alex Cook (5) during the first half at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona St. logs upset over No. 21 Washington, 45-38

Trenton Bourguet came off the bench and threw three touchdown passes — two to Elijhah Badger — as host Arizona State upset No. 21 Washington 45-38 Saturday afternoon in a Pacific-12 Conference game in Tempe, Ariz.

Badger’s 2-yard TD catch with 7:27 left broke a 38-all tie.

The Sun Devils (2-4 overall, 1-2 Pac-12) gave interim coach Shaun Aguano his first victory in three games — all against ranked teams — since replacing the fired Herm Edwards.

Xazavian Valladay rushed 23 times for 111 yards and scored two touchdowns — one rushing and one receiving — as the Sun Devils won their eighth in a row at home against the Huskies (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12) dating to 2001.

Cameron Davis rushed for three touchdowns for Washington and Michael Penix Jr. was 33-of-53 passing for 311 yards. Penix’s Hail Mary pass on the final play was knocked down.

Bourguet was 15 of 21 for 182 yards.

Trailing 10-3 almost midway through the second quarter, the Sun Devils were driving when they faced a third-and-6 from UW’s 28-yard yard. Starting quarterback Emory Jones scrambled for the first down before sliding feet first to the turf. Huskies safety Asa Turner came in late and hit Jones in the head with his forearm.

Following a video review, Turner was ejected for targeting, reducing an already thin UW secondary, and the ball was placed on the 11. Valladay took a handoff from Bourguet and rushed up the middle for a touchdown on the next play to pull the Sun Devils even.

Bourguet threw a 14-yard TD pass to Valladay on ASU’s next possession to make it 17-10.

The Sun Devils extended the lead as Penix was hit while throwing and his pass deflected off the back of offensive lineman Jaxson Kirkland and high into the air. Jordan Clark intercepted the ball and raced untouched to the end zone to extend the lead.

The Huskies’ Wayne Taulapapa scored on a 1-yard run with 34 seconds left in the half to make it 24-17.

Bourguet threw TD passes of 10 and 2 yards to Badger in the second half and teammate Daniyel Ngata scored on a 1-yard run.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) attempts a pass during the second half against the Portland State Vikings at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

No. 18 Washington encounters giant-killer Stanford

A feeling of excitement not felt for some time in Seattle is building for the Washington Huskies football program, which debuted in the 2022 NCAA Top 25 rankings at No. 18 this week following a 39-28 win over last week’s No. 11, Michigan State.

This Saturday, the Huskies (3-0) look to keep winning with the start of their Pac-12 season, hosting Stanford at Husky Stadium in a night game.

Two years ago, Washington couldn’t play for the Pac-12 championship because its roster was ravaged by COVID cases. Last season, the team finished 4-8 overall and head coach Jimmy Lake was fired in November over an incident involving a player on the team.

But this season looks different. Washington has 136 points scored in its first three games, even though the first two were at home against Kent State and FCS Portland State.

“Understanding that there is so many things that could have been even better than what happened Saturday night,” Huskies head coach Kalen DeBoer said. “So I know we’ve got a group of guys that felt that way at the beginning, that this could be where we’re at. And now they see, stacking days on top of days, practices on top of practices and now games on top of games. They’re in a good spot. But we can’t get full of ourselves.”

Washington is led by quarterback Michael Penix, Jr., a transfer from Indiana. Penix has passed for 10 touchdowns and won Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week after he passed for 397 yards, the eighth-highest single-game total in school history, against Michigan State.

Stanford (1-1) is coming off a bye last weekend. The Cardinal has already played a conference game, a 41-28 loss at home to now No. 7 USC. Saturday is the second of three consecutive games against potential Top 25 teams, with Washington this week and current No. 15 Oregon on Oct. 1.

According to Stanford Athletics, the Cardinal have 29 wins against nationally-ranked opponents under head coach David Shaw. Five of those have come against Washington, and Stanford is 5-1 when facing a Huskies team ranked in the Top 25.

Shaw is 7-4 against Washington in his career. He called Washington a good football team that is playing fast and with a lot of confidence.

“Not an insurmountable task, but at the same time, there’s a level of football that we can play at that’s much higher than we’ve played at so far this year,” Shaw said. “So that’s our focus.”

The Cardinal are led in rushing by running back E.J. Smith, who has 206 yards and three touchdowns in two games. But he’s not expected to play Saturday due to a health-related matter.

Shaw hopes Smith can play the following week at Oregon.

Quarterback Tanner McKee has three touchdown passes and three interceptions in two games thus far this season. He’s completed 42 of 62 passes for 528 yards.

Head-to-head, the Huskies and Cardinal are 44-44-4 against each other.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Portland State Vikings wide receiver Beau Kelly (13) escapes the grasp of Washington Huskies defensive back Asa Turner (20) and linebacker Kamren Fabiculanan (13) after a reception during the first half at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

Washington rolls to easy win over Portland State

Michael Penix Jr. threw for 324 yards, wideouts Jalen McMillan and Giles Jackson both went over 100 yards in receptions, and Washington pounded visiting FCS opponent Portland State 52-6 in a nonconference game at Seattle on Saturday afternoon.

Coming off a 45-20 romp over Kent State in the opener last week, Washington (2-0) continued to put up big offensive numbers at the expense of the Vikings (0-2) as the Huskies prepare to host nationally ranked Michigan State next week.

Penix threw touchdown passes of 12 yards to Ja’Lynn Polk and 84 yards to McMillan en route to a 31-3 halftime advantage. Cameron Davis and Wayne Taulapapa ran in from 8 and 6 yards out, respectively, for Washington’s two other touchdowns in the half.

Will Nixon had a 4-yard TD run and Davis scored for a second time, this one from 3 yards out, in the third period, before Washington completed its scoring on a 2-yard dash by Denzel Boston with 5:12 remaining in the game.

Penix finished 18-of-25 passing with one interception. McMillan totaled 127 yards on just four catches, while Giles hauled in six balls for 105 yards.

Taulapapa was the game’s leading rusher with 94 yards on 12 carries. Davis (70) and Richard Newton (59) also topped 50 yards rushing for the hosts, who outrushed Portland State 241-81.

Peyton Henry added a 32-yard field goal for Washington, while Gianni Smith did all the scoring for Portland State with a 23-yard field goal in the second quarter and a 40-yarder in the third.

Jalynnee McGee was the biggest offensive force for the Vikings with 58 yards on 12 carries. Quarterback Dante Chachere threw for 50 yards on 6-of-17 passing with no touchdowns or interceptions.

Washington outgained the visitors 617-131.

The Huskies’ win was their third straight by a total margin of 145-22 in their all-time rivalry with Portland State.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) passes against the Kent State Golden Flashes during the first quarter at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Huskies try to take another step vs. Portland State

Washington aims to capitalize on momentum built in new coach Kalen DeBoer’s debut when the Huskies host Portland State in a nonconference game Saturday afternoon.

Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. threw for 345 yards and four touchdowns as Washington (1-0) opened with a 45-20 home romp over Kent State last week. The four touchdown passes were one more than the Huskies accumulated in the first three games last season before DeBoer and Penix arrived.

With 15-ranked Michigan State on deck, Deboer would like to see his club take another step in its development over last year’s 4-8 edition, albeit at the expense of this week’s FCS opponent.

“This is only the beginning, right?” he said in downplaying the opening win. “This is a journey that we’re on.”

Penix, who threw for just four TD passes (with seven interceptions) in five games at Indiana last season, got plenty of help in front of his new fans. Wayne Taulapapa and Cameron Davis rushed for touchdowns, while Jalen McMillan (two), Rome Odunze and Taj Davis hauled in his TD passes.

The Washington defense also had three interceptions — two from Asa Turner — in a vast improvement over last year’s stunning 13-7 home loss to Montana on Opening Day.

Washington has never lost to Portland State (0-1), recording wins in 2012 and 2016 by a total score of 93-16, but might be these Vikings dominated an FBS opponent in many aspects of the game last week before losing to San Jose State 21-17.

Portland State outgained the Spartans 395-288 and recorded seven sacks en route to a 17-14 lead before faltering in the final two minutes.

Vikings coach Bruce Barnum wasn’t satisfied with a near-upset as the Big Sky Conference club prepares to face a Pacific-12 Conference foe for the second year in a row. Portland State lost 44-24 at Washington State in Week 2 last September.

“I told the team: Don’t accept ‘you played well’ from this. Win the game,” he insisted. “That’s what we need to do. We need to clean up the mistakes and win those games.”

Sophomore quarterback Dante Chachere, making his first collegiate start, passed for 270 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for a team-leading 83 additional yards in the defeat. Beau Kelly caught nine passes for 133 yards.

–Field Level Media

Jul 29, 2022; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Washington Huskies coach Kalen DeBoer speaks during Pac-12 Media Day at Novo Theater. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kalen DeBoer era opens at Washington vs. Kent State

After a tumultuous 2021 season, Washington hopes new coach Kalen DeBoer leads them back to some a sense of normalcy Saturday night as they open the season against an apparently overmatched visiting Kent State.

Yet, a year ago, Washington’s season launched with a stunning 13-7 loss to Montana and then-coach Jimmy Lake and the Dawgs never regained their footing on the way to a 4-8 season.

DeBoer, formerly at Fresno State, is the fourth Washington head coach in four seasons. Chris Petersen departed after the 2019 season and was replaced by Lake — but after the terrible start, Lake was under fire all season and was terminated in November following a sideline incident in which he was seen shoving one of his players — and was replaced on an interim basis by defensive coordinator Bob Gregory for the rest of the 2021 season.

Last week DeBoer named Michael Penix Jr., a transfer from Indiana, as the starting quarterback, and Wayne Taulapapa, a graduate transfer from Virginia, as the No. 1 running back.

Taulapapa, DeBoer said, “might be one of the most mature guys on our football team. It means a lot to him,” and cited his 27 career starts and ability to handle rushing, receiving and blocking duties well.

A win for the Huskies would be the 400th in school history at home. Washington was picked to finish sixth in the Pac-12 this season in a conference media poll.

Kent State won the Mid-American Conference Eastern Division title last season, finishing 7-7 after a 52-38 loss to Wyoming in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Kent State was picked to finish second in the MAC East in a media poll. The program has a unique connection with Washington, in that legendary Huskies head coach Don James was Kent State’s head coach for four seasons before he arrived to turn the Huskies into a West Coast power for most of his tenure (1975-92).

“The football gods, they don’t miss,” Kent State head coach Sean Lewis said, noting that he keeps a book about James in his office and uses it for coaching guidance.

“We’ll get a real test here,” Lewis said, “and we’re going to see where we’re at.”

The Golden Flashes have a loaded nonconference schedule starting with a trip west to Seattle for their first-ever meeting with Washington, followed by a trip to No. 9 Oklahoma next week, and a Sept. 24 visit to No. 3 Georgia.

Washington follows the opener with a game against FCS team Portland State and then hosts No. 15 Michigan State before turning to Pac-12 play against Stanford – with all four game at Husky Stadium.

–Field Level Media

Oct 2, 2021; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Indiana Hoosiers quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) drops back to throw a pass against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the first quarter at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Washington names Michael Penix Jr. starting QB

Indiana transfer Michael Penix Jr. has won the quarterback competition at Washington.

Huskies coach Kalen DeBoer announced Tuesday that Penix will be under center for the Sept. 3 season opener in Seattle against Kent State.

The 6-foot-3, 213-pound Penix had been battling sophomore Dylan Morris and redshirt freshman Sam Huard for the QB1 role.

Penix appeared in 20 games over four seasons with the Hoosiers from 2018-21. He was a team captain in 2020 and 2021 and compiled as 12-5 record as a starter, earning second-team All-Big Ten honors in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign.

He completed 59.4 percent of his passes for 4,197 yards, 29 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, also rushing for 165 yards and six scores.

DeBoer, who is in his first season with the Huskies after two seasons as the head coach at Fresno State, was Penix’s offensive coordinator and position coach at Indiana in 2019.

–Field Level Media