Final | Huskies 39, Spartans 28
4:30 p.m. | Husky Stadium | Seattle
TV: ABC | Radio: SportsRadio 950 KJR
UW football makes non-conference statement in 39-28 win over No. 11 Michigan State
Even when Kalen DeBoer is wrong, he’s right.
With 1:30 left in the first quarter Saturday and the Huskies holding an early 7-0 lead, Washington went for it on fourth-and-goal from Michigan State’s 1-yard line. Junior quarterback Michael Penix Jr. took the snap and darted left, on what appeared to be an option play.
He was swallowed by Spartan defensive end Khris Bogle for a 1-yard loss.
In a different season, with a different coach, and a different quarterback, that may have been the difference. A team that hadn’t beaten a ranked non-conference opponent inside Husky Stadium since No. 11 Michigan in 2001 — albeit with precious few opportunities — may have played like it. The Huskies could have cratered on ABC, faltering for all the world to see.
Instead, they dominated — delivering a 39-28 their biggest non-conference win in ages.
Huskies come up with INT on next play
Even when Kalen DeBoer is wrong, he's right.— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) September 18, 2022
The Huskies are 15 minutes from their most impactful non-conference win since I-don’t-know-when.
So far, the UW offense has dominated – outgaining No. 11 Michigan State 453 to 174. Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has completed 23 of 34 passes for 394 yards and four touchdowns, and Ja’Lynn Polk has become the first UW player to haul in three touchdown catches since Dante Pettis against Oregon State in 2017.
But it isn’t over. Not yet.
It’s time to see whether Washington can seize the moment.
Michigan State goes four-and-out after UW's first punt
The drive: 4 plays, 4 yards, 1:24.
The story: Following UW's first punt of the game, the Huskies' defense didn't allow the Spartans to capitalize at all, as Michigan State went four-and-out. The Huskies will get the ball back with more than 13 minutes left in this one.
Next possession: UW starts on Michigan State's 24.
Time left: 14:17 in 4Q.
Michigan State forces UW offense to punt for first time this game
The drive: 10 plays, 58 yards, 3:46.
The story: Michael Penix Jr. missed an open Rom Odunze ... and the Huskies punted for the first time tonight. Will it cost them?
Next possession: Michigan State starts at own 20.
Time left: 0:41 in 3Q.
Nate Kalepo down for UW
With Kalepo out, Matteo Mele is in at center and Corey Luciano has shifted to left guard.— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) September 18, 2022
UW snags two sacks and forces Spartans to punt
The drive: 10 plays, 7 yards, 6:28.
The story: Michigan State converted two first downs, including on fourth-and-7, but two sacks pushed them to a fourth-and-30 situation and a punt.
Next possession: UW starts on own 1-yard line.
Time left: 4:27 in 3Q.
Penix connects with Polk for duo's third TD
The scoring play: Michael Penix Jr. found Ja'Lynn Polk wide open down the sidelines for a 53-yard touchdown and an answer to Michigan State's score out of halftime.
The drive: Four plays, 73 yards, 0:57.
The score: Huskies 36, Spartans 14
Halftime take: Coaching matters.
So does quarterback play.
UW had both in a sterling first half against Michigan State, outgaining the Spartans 322-90 and outscoring them 29-8. Junior quarterback Michael Penix Jr. is a big reason why, as the Indiana transfer has completed 18 of 24 passes for 278 yards and three touchdowns. Two of them have gone to Texas Tech transfer wide receiver Ja’Lynn Polk, who leads Washington with five catches for 100 yards.
UW has dominated every facet thus far, with a failed fourth-down conversion the only glaring error. But against the No. 11 team in the nation, in primetime, on ABC, can the Huskies finish what would be a statement win? We’re about to find out.
Penix strikes again to give Huskies 29-8 lead
The scoring play: It looked like clock mismanagement as the Huskies were driving to score before halftime ... but Michael Penix Jr. knew what he was doing, scrambling and finding Ja'Lynn Polk in the end zone for the receiver's second touchdown of the day.
The drive: 8 plays, 65 yards, 1:18.
The score: Huskies 29, Spartans 8.
Michigan State gets on the board with TD and 2-point conversion
The scoring play: Payton Thorne, who is 11-for-12 passing now, scrambled to the left and found Keon Coleman for a 7-yard touchdown — and then for the ensuing two-point conversion. The Spartans are back in this one.
The drive: 15 plays, 75 yards, 7:02.
The score: Huskies 22, Spartans 8
Huskies are ROLLING as Penix hits another TD pass
The scoring play: What a throw by Michael Penix Jr., who hits Wayne Taulapapa for a 19-yard touchdown and gives the Huskies a 22-0 lead (after a botched PAT snap). This is really happening.
The drive: 4 plays, 60 yards, 1:09.
The score: Huskies 22, Spartans 0
UW defense forces Michigan State into another punt
The drive: 6 plays, 0 yards, 4:04.
The story: The UW defense isn't letting the Spartans do anything on offense so far in this one, as Michigan State's only first down on this drive came via a missed tackle by Mishael Powell on the outside. It ended with Voi Tunuufi and ZTF meeting in the backfield for a sack of MSU quarterback Payton Thorne.
Next possession: UW starts on own 34.
Time left: 9:41 in 2Q.
Huskies punch it in at goal line this time for 16-0 lead
The scoring play: Cam Davis punches it in this time from the 1-yard line as the Huskies take a significant, 16-0 lead over No. 11 Michigan State early in the second quarter.
The drive: 6 plays, 50 yards, 2:18.
The score: Huskies 16, Spartans 0.
That quarter couldn’t have gone a whole lot better.
UW leads Michigan State 9-0 after 15 minutes, with quarterback Michael Penix Jr. going 10-12 for 131 yards and an 8-yard touchdown to Ja’Lynn Polk. Wide receiver Jalen McMillan has caught four passes for 66 yards, the long being an acrobatic 47-yarder. And the Husky defense has forced both a punt and safety.
The only negative occurred on UW’s second drive, when the Husky offense was stoned on four consecutive running plays. But after failing on fourth down, the Husky defense immediately capitalized with a critical safety.
UW is battering a Big Ten opponent in prime time on ABC. It’s been a dream start. But will it continue?
Huskies come up with safety on Michigan State's ensuing play
The scoring play: Jarek Broussard was tackled for a 2-yard loss and a safety (upon review) on Michigan State's next play after its goal-line stand.
The score: Huskies 9, Spartans 0
Huskies stuffed on four straight plays at goal line
The drive: 14 plays, 70 yards, 7:05.
The story: The Huskies drove to the 1-yard line before being stopped on four straight plays, including a fourth-and-goal play during which Michael Penix Jr. was stuffed on a run option.
Next possession: Michigan State starts at own 2-yard line.
Time left: 1:30 left in 1Q.
UW opens game with Penix-to-Polk TD
The scoring play: Michael Penix Jr. hit receiver Ja'Lynn Polk for an 8-yard touchdown off a play action as the Huskies strike first against No. 11 Michigan State.
The drive: 7 plays, 77 yards, 3:43.
The score: Huskies 7, Spartans 0.
Sources: UW starting safety Asa Turner to miss game with an injury
The Husky secondary was already thin.
It just got even thinner.
Starting safety Asa Turner — who produced two interceptions in the season-opening win over Kent State on Sept. 3 — will miss Saturday’s game against No. 11 Michigan State win an undisclosed injury, two sources confirmed to The Times. The 6-foot-3, 201-pound junior compiled eight tackles and two picks in UW’s first two games.
Sailgating and tailgating updates
Can UW finally make a nonconference statement against No. 11 Michigan State?
What Kalen DeBoer didn’t know might hurt him.
Or will ignorance be bliss?
In his weekly news conference Monday, Washington’s first-year coach was informed that UW hasn’t beaten a ranked nonconference Power Five opponent inside Husky Stadium since No. 11 Michigan in 2001. In fact, UW is just 8-22 (regardless of venue) against nonconference Power Five programs in that span — with wins against Indiana (2003), Syracuse (2007, 2010), Nebraska (2010), Illinois (2013-14) and Rutgers (2016-17).
That murderer’s row of mediocrity went a combined 38-62 in the seasons when Washington won.
The last two decades, DeBoer knows now, have yielded little but Husky heartbreak in nonconference/postseason play — with losses against Michigan (2021), Ohio State (2018, 2007, 2003), Auburn (2018), Penn State (2017), Alabama (2016), LSU (2012, 2009), Oklahoma (2008, 2006), Notre Dame (2008, 2005, 2004) and more.
But 21 years after topping No. 11 Michigan, the Huskies host No. 11 Michigan State on Saturday.
What to watch for when Washington hosts No. 11 Michigan State, plus Mike Vorel’s prediction
Michigan State’s 12 sacks through two games are the most in the nation. On the other side, UW quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has yet to be sacked. Something’s got to give on Saturday. This may be the biggest test of the season for an inexperienced offensive line, featuring a host of first-time starters in left tackle Troy Fautanu, left guard Nate Kalepo, center Corey Luciano and right tackle Roger Rosengarten. It’s unclear whether Washington will get sixth-year senior (and two-time first-team All-Pac-12) left tackle Jaxson Kirkland back on Saturday. Even without him, the Huskies have allowed Penix to complete 69.7% of his passes from a mostly clean pocket in his first two games. But Michigan State linebacker Jacoby Windmon, who leads the nation with 5.5 sacks, with be far more difficult to consistently subdue. The unit that wins this battle may win the game.
Analysis: Why Michigan State might have reason to worry about trip to UW
Michigan State coach Mel Tucker said he was concerned enough about this weekend’s trip to Seattle for the showdown at Washington that his staff “talked to some experts” about the impact of traveling west.
We could have saved him the time: It’s a long way.
The flight from East Lansing to Seattle will cover almost 2,000 miles and take about four-and-a-half hours.
A review of recent Big Ten history on the West Coast should give Tucker additional reason to worry.
The Hotline examined every Big Ten vs. Pac-12 matchup this century and filtered for the circumstances MSU will face on Saturday: regular-season games played in the Pacific Time Zone.
UW QB Michael Penix Jr. has had success against Michigan State. How much will it matter?
Michael Penix Jr. is no stranger to Michigan State.
On Sept. 28, 2019, Penix — then a redshirt freshman quarterback at Indiana — completed 20 consecutive passes in the Hoosiers’ 40-31 shootout loss to the No. 25 Spartans, two completions shy of a Big Ten record. And he did it after missing IU’s previous two games with an injury.
“He didn’t practice all week,” Indiana coach Tom Allen said on the postgame radio show. “You can see why we picked him as the starter. Peyton Ramsey did some amazing things when he was in there (the prior two games). We have two quarterbacks we believe in. But Michael is special.”
Added UW coach Kalen DeBoer — then Penix’s offensive coordinator — nearly three years later: “It said a lot about Mike. And man, we were very confident about what we could be with him at quarterback.
“That same thing is going to be the case here. He’s not going to be in awe. He’s played in many of these games. So you’re comforted, having one of your team leaders and your quarterback be a guy that has played in big games and understands the color of jersey that’s across from him. It’s nothing new to him.”
Indeed, Penix has met Michigan State — which Washington hosts inside Husky Stadium at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday — twice as a starter, answering the 2019 defeat with a 24-0 win in 2020. He completed 58 of 80 passes (72.5%) for 606 yards, with six total touchdowns and two interceptions along the way.
What UW is doing to restore home-field advantage at Husky Stadium
There are 70,138 seats inside Husky Stadium.
And nearly as many evolving obstacles for filling them all.
“The fact that people can buy tickets in so many different ways, in so many different places, anywhere they are, at any time they want, and can watch an outstanding production on an amazing TV from a comfortable home … the only thing they can’t get [at home] is the goose bumps,” UW chief revenue officer Heath Bennett told The Seattle Times last week. “They have to come here for the goose bumps.”
Three decades ago, they did.
On Sept. 19, 1992, No. 2 Washington defeated No. 12 Nebraska 29-14 in front of 73,333 — an unsurprising sellout in an expanded Husky Stadium. ESPN’s “Realistic Sound Level Meter” topped out at 133.6 decibels, the highest number ever recorded at a college-football game.
From 1990-92, when Washington went to three consecutive Rose Bowls, fans averaged a near sellout of Husky Stadium. UW lost just once in Seattle along the way, in November 1990 to UCLA.
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