The closer the Huskies come to the end of the regular season, the higher stakes arrive and Washington desires to greet it. Shaking off a close victory in Arizona, the Huskies defeat Oregon in the first classic of the season, battle the flu, refs and expectations in two consecutive sub-par performances, send USC into oblivion, and pulls out of Utah 10-0. The crescendo of 2023 continues to rise and this time it ultimately met Corvallis in a bowl of rain, penalties and insults.
The Huskies are 11-0.
Grabbing the ball first, Penix & co. took the field with a familiar ease, these players having long been settled into the system of this game. In one of the most complex drives of the season, UW marched down in 10 plays, five minutes setting an early tone that dictated the first half. Penix went 4-5 for 51 whole yards with three of those completions including the ensuing touchdown to Rome Odunze.
7-0 right off the bat and the offense looked unstoppable in the rain. In fact, right away the feeling became that Oregon State’s offense looked very much stoppable in the rain. An early 3rd & 6 after OSU QB DJ Uiagalele’s first pass attempt fell incomplete, was a great sign to see. No, 3rd & 1 swiftly knocked on the door after the Huskies committed a signature penalty. The downs reset several more times until the Beavers capitalized on their early success with a touchdown.
The Huskies promptly went three and out as three straight drops ended their hopes for an answer quickly. Missing the edge on the scoreboard, Husky nation held their breath hoping they wouldn’t have to play from behind. A miracle rolled around as the Beavers went three and out and snapped what was meant to be a play to the punter through the end zone for a safety. 9-7 and the Huskies got the ball with a shot to end this game early by going up two scores.
Instead, the team saw something they were seldom familiar with and that is rain slowing them down. Washington is familiar with such weather sitting on the crown corner of the PNW coast and from Cal to Utah, they’ve used this to outplay their opponents thoroughly in the air. This time misses kept coming and fans found themselves asking quickly for a change of plans. A course reversal on the current game plan of pass heavy to run majority. Oddly, such changes were not made as the Huskies kept digging themselves into punt or FG situations.
It's important to note that although Penix only threw for 162 yards with three total touchdowns, the slightly under .500 completion rate wasn’t his fault. Far more times than not he put the ball where it needed to be and his receivers couldn’t haul it in in the rain. In fact, Polk received the early ire of Husky nation for being the primary perpetrator on drops.
The score finished at 22-20 while the halftime score was 22-10, Washington. This means that your suspicions were correct. The offense slowed down to near dead weight that saw 0 points scored in the second half. This was the first half of the season where the team was scoreless and this was more of a credit to the OSU coaching staff. Seeing how they were getting beat easily and flustered early, the Beavers came out in the second half and controlled the clock running a few drives between 5 and 10 minutes. In the end turnovers were their downfall as the Husky defense generated the holy trinity of takeaways, a safety, a fumble recovery, and two interceptions.
The Huskies are now 11-0 with a spot in the Pac-12 championship. Their two possible opponents are Oregon and Arizona, both of which will bring their own problems to the mix. Penix’s performance could cost him in the Heisman race, but he remains squarely in the top two/three with the first claim at a conference title spot, and a better remaining resume than Daniels.
Huskies, we’re begging you. Please take it easy on the anxiety. Especially against Washington State. We’ll see you this coming Saturday for a chance at a perfect 12-0 season, perfect home record under DeBoer, and the last Apple Cup for a while at least.
Where will you be as the regular season comes to a close?
Go Dawgs. And Happy Thanksgiving.