Not all conference games are created equal, but they all count the same in the win column.
A week ago, the Huskies sweated out a back-and-forth shootout in Eugene against the Ducks. Seven days later, UW coasted to a 54-7 drubbing of the now 1-10 Buffs. And that’s putting it as mildly as possible.
The Huskies were favored by 31 points coming in, so the drubbing was far from unexpected. But even still, Washington left zero doubt about how this one would shake out. It was over in the first quarter.
The 47-point margin was UW’s biggest conference win since beating Oregon 70-21 in 2016. As KJR’s Dave “Softy” Mahler pointed out on Twitter, Kalen DeBoer’s nine wins are the most ever for a first-year Husky coach.
Here’s what we learned from the Huskies’ rout of Colorado.
No let up for UW
The Huskies have made a habit this year of jumping quickly ahead, behind the left arm of Michael Penix Jr.
They did that once again Saturday with a methodical 12-play, 85-yard drive capped off with a Wayne Taulapapa touchdown. And they didn’t look back. UW’s first three drives ended in the end zone. The highlight of the night came on a double-reverse handoff to Jalen McMillan to Ja’Lynn Polk and back to Penix, who tossed it up the left sideline to an open McMillan who took it to the house.
The Huskies scored a touchdown on their first offensive possession for the ninth time this season, and have scored on their opening drive in 10 of 11 games overall.
Doing damage on the ground
This game was thought to be one where Penix would pad his already incredible season stats. The QB is already second on UW’s single-season passing yards record list and has worked his way to the fringe of the Heisman conversation.
Instead, Saturday ended up being Penix’s lowest passing yardage of the season with the Indiana transfer tossing a modest 229 yards and one touchdown.
That’s certainly not because he wasn’t effective, but the Huskies chose to do their damage on the ground instead. And they even got a quick glimpse of Dylan Morris in the fourth quarter.
The Huskies bulldozed the Buffs to the tune of 280 rushing yards and five scores. Taulapapa — who was open about his grief after three of his former Virginia teammates were killed earlier this week — paced the way for UW with 107 yards and two scores on just 11 carries. Cameron Davis added a pair of touchdowns and 59 yards, while Richard Newton also got on the board with a score.
The Buffs are bad
Any talk of this one being a trap game went out the window fast. But boy, it’s hard to watch this Colorado team play football.
The Buffs are far-and-away the worst team in the conference, and have lost by more than 20 points in all 10 of their losses. Mercury News reporter Jon Wilner pointed out on Twitter that Colorado has failed to cover spreads of 30 or more points in three straight games against Oregon, USC and UW.
It wasn’t just the talent gap that was apparent; the Buffs were a sloppy team Saturday night.
There was a long snap on a punt attempt that sailed 30 yards behind the punter and into the end zone for a UW safety. And just before halftime, the Buffs fumbled a kickoff, gifting the Huskies another three points.
An Apple Cup showdown looms
The intensity will immediately get dialed up as the Huskies get set for a second rivalry game in three weeks with a showdown against the 7-4 Cougars in Pullman next Saturday.
Both teams are clicking, as the Cougars are coming off three straight multiple-score victories and are playing their best football of the season under first-year coach Jake Dickert. WSU owns the conference’s top scoring defense, allowing just 19.8 points per game, while the Huskies have one of the league’s most potent offensive attacks and lead the Pac-12 in yards per game (374) while scoring nearly 40 points per contest.
After the Cougars smacked Washington 40-13 a year ago, there will be no lack of motivation on either side. The early lines are split as FanDuel favors the Cougars by a point, while Caesars Sportsbook gives UW a 3.5-point edge.
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