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Instant Classic: Washington Surges Past Oregon 36-33

In the biggest Husky game of the century, UW delivers a classic and purple continues to reign

Oregon v Washington
Michael Penix Jr. #9 of the Washington Huskies looks on before the game against the Oregon Ducks
Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

In the words of the great Raymond Lucas Jr, “Lsjsjsjdjbsnsns.”

There is not exactly a way to describe the feeling rolling around Lake Washington and as difficult as it was to find the right adjective for this victory (I cannot believe I used up outlasts), I will be forced to unveil the new adjective purple.

Indeed, the team looked dominant at times and others they looked outplayed. But as opponents discover the more they find themselves in DeBoer’s Husky Stadium, there will always be a chance. And the Ducks become the next team in a long line to be purpled in Seattle.

Coach Lanning and the Ducks seized the opening toss, a bold and commanding decision to defer, ensuring that the nation’s mightiest offense would grapple with the field’s challenges first. A thunderous ovation echoed through the stadium as the Huskies embarked on their journey, but it was an ominous foreshadowing. The Huskies’ drive came to a grinding halt, and Penix’s passes faltered like arrows astray.

Oregon v Washington
Zion Tupuola-Fetui #4 of the Washington Huskies reacts during the fourth quarter against the Oregon Ducks at Husky Stadium
Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

A prophecy etched in the very fabric of football history, a defensive performance of epic proportions unfolded before our eyes, one that had remained hidden in the shadows until this very moment. Oregon’s defense, fierce and unyielding, sent the Huskies packing with a swift three-and-out, as the crowd at Husky Stadium erupted in a chorus of elation, their roars causing the very earth to tremble beneath their feet.

Husky Stadium, a coliseum of dreams and despair, now echoed with the voices of warriors past and present. The fans, who had once set a record for the loudest roar in college football, now summoned a seismic force that shook the very foundation of the stadium.

Bo Nix stood vulnerable to a stadium growing ever more loud as Washington made the Ducks pay. Penix, a maestro of the field, orchestrated an electric symphony with a 4-play, 76-yard drive that left Husky nation in awe and their foes in the dust. With the tides turned and drowning the Ducks, Washington landed multiple heavy hits behind the line of scrimmage that doomed any chance Oregon had.

No, actually things were swung wildly in the other direction. The Huskies were called for multiple penalties that advanced the Oregon Ducks drive further. Every time we were allowed to breathe relief and expect the ball back to gather a two-score lead, the Huskies were called for another penalty. As ticky-tack as some were, this truth became clear. We needed our offense today. Our defense was going to give up a shootout.

Time. Time was the name of the game, as Oregon notched their first touchdown of the night in their second possession and boldly went for two, going up 8-7 right away. The Huskies marched right back out to a thunderous touchdown drive, but it was too fast. Oregon solved the basic 9-piece puzzle that is the Washington defense and controlled the clock moving forward in a methodical drive that saw their running back slide off tackles left and right. The heavy hits from the first and second drives were gone and the defensive line was more so butter to the hot knife Oregon was.

Oregon v Washington
Washington Huskies and Oregon Ducks players line up for a play during the fourth quarter at Husky Stadium
Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The Huskies struck again putting themselves up 22-15 after a successful two-point conversion of their own. This allowed the Oregon Ducks to attempt their own answer, something that surprisingly ended in the game’s first field goal. A defensive stop gave the Huskies enough time to do what they do but up 22-18, a miscue led to the game’s first INT. Whether or not this was a fault of Penix or Odunze, the midfield positioning saw Oregon have another opportunity to not only give themselves the lead, but grab the ball after halftime and go up by two scores.

Husky nation bit their nails as the sense of impending doom hung a cloud of dread over the city. Lanning had an opportunity on the goal line with a couple seconds left and instead of kicking it, he went for it. And instead of rushing it as they’ve been successful doing all afternoon, he passed.

And he failed.

This is a theme that is rapidly becoming far too common with the Lanning offense. Criticism aside, how many of these bad decisions need to be made before something changes?

The Ducks were not done. Going blow for blow, the Huskies went up 29-18 and everything looked ready to call the end.

Not even. Having to get used to not being able to assume anything with this team, Oregon put up 15 unanswered points. Players are dropping and injury-prone Michael Penix Jr. is now not only shaken up, but holding his side as though he broke at least one rib. 33-29 Penix can’t lead his team past the goal line and instead Oregon takes over on downs.

Needing a defensive stop, the Huskies gave up first down after first down, and the Huskies were out. The fans were flabbergasted. The strongest fan showing in three decades — at least, and the team was about to lose.

Remarkably, the Heavens seemed to open and the Husky team who is best qualified by as Jack of all Trades and Master of, well Most responded. The light came down and the Huskies were able to conquer the Ducks and force a punt. A midfield punt would’ve likely pinned the Dawgs back, but wait a second.

Oregon v Washington
Head coach Dan Lanning of the Oregon Ducks looks on during the fourth quarter against the Washington Huskies
Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Pulsating with sheer intensity, the players felt their heartbeats thump in their temples as Coach Lanning, with unwavering conviction, chose to take a daring leap of faith on that fateful fourth down (obviously). It was a gamble, especially for a team known for ground gains, but they decided to test the skies instead.

It ended in disaster. A colossal failure that left a scar on their ambitions. But, as the clock ticked, there was no respite. The Huskies swiftly seized the field, covering fifty yards in just two plays, and with a touchdown, they tightened their grip on the game.

The Ducks’ hopes seemed to wane like a flickering candle, and their demise was sealed by a missed field goal as the game drew to a close. The emotional rollercoaster of this match, out together by the Huskies, took the spectators on a turbulent journey, from jubilation to despair, from stubborn optimism to nagging doubt, repeatedly.

Oregon v Washington
Fans react during the fourth quarter between the Washington Huskies and the Oregon Ducks
Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

It may not have been a flawless victory, but for a team favored by three points, the nation had anticipated an Oregon triumph the previous week. Yet, here we stand, with Washington soaring to the pinnacle of the Pac 12 rankings. If ND can dispatch USC as expected, Washington will likely stand as the sole undefeated team in the Pac.

Penix, despite a costly interception, exceeded the 300-yard mark and orchestrated four touchdowns. He now reigns as the undisputed leader in the Heisman race, a sprint that appears impossible for other quarterbacks to catch up in. McMillan, despite returning from an injury, displayed the tenacity Washington needed, proving that they could be ruthless and endure, even when the odds seemed stacked against them. And endure they did.

I will put this in the hands of Husky nation and Dawg Pound readers. We need a name for this game and any ideas we will gladly welcome. This is an instant classic and even if Penix happens to not finish as the greatest Husky QB ever, it will always ring in our hearts when he may finish his college career with multiple Oregon wins and no losses. And say what you want about how he got to this victory, but he was the conductor of this locomotive and Penix is becoming the legend he was meant to.

Let’s rock and roll. We are onto Arizona State.

SIDE NOTE: Caleb Williams has three interceptions at the time of this writing. Will Penix be the first ever Husky to win the Heisman?