There’s been some dark days for the Washington football program. Saturday night provided some sunshine that could be a harbinger of positive things to come.
The Huskies, in their third game under coach Kalen DeBoer, simply blew away No. 9 Michigan State with a passing game led by Indiana transfer quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and a defense that throttled the Spartans for three quarters until the game was no longer in doubt.
DeBoer’s arrival from Fresno State came after a disjointed 4-8 season that saw Jimmy Lake fired after nine games and the offense struggle to score with any consistency. Penix’s arrival appears to have solved the latter problem. The senior led the Hoosiers to a historic season in 2020 before suffering an ACL injury late in the campaign that appeared to linger last year.
He looked like the 2020 version Saturday and his four touchdown passes were too much for the Spartans and secured a significant top-10 win. More of that play will make the Huskies a Pac-12 contender as the defense has been the one constant in recent years – and this year’s group looks in the same vein.
So while Southern California, Utah and Oregon have garnered most of the headlines, the conference should beware of what is lurking in Seattle.
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Here’s four other things you may have missed during a busy Week 3:
Oklahoma shows mettle at Nebraska
At first glance, the Sooners dominating Nebraska on the road wouldn’t account for much notice, however the circumstances of the trip to Lincoln were less-than-ideal. Yeah, the Cornhuskers fired their coach six days before the game, but Oklahoma was walking into a hostile environment with a first-year coach taking his team for its initial road trip. And while Nebraska has been piling up losses, the vast majority of them were by one score. So after spotting the home team the early lead and with the crowd at a frenzy, the Sooners just methodically ground them down with a running game and uncharacteristic nasty defense. The mature performance is the latest sign that the Brent Venables era could be something special and even better than predecessor Lincoln Riley’s tenure.
Start the Brock Bowers for Heisman campaign
A tight end hasn’t won college football’s top individual honor since 1949 and none have placed higher than 10th since 1977. However, Bowers should be in contention this year with way he is thriving in the Georgia offense. Saturday against South Carolina, the sophomore had five catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns and also added a 5-yard scoring run as the Bulldogs rolled to an easy victory. These blowouts by Georgia might be the biggest impediment to him getting consideration as the starters are often out early and the stats that voters love can’t be accumulated from the bench.
Perfect starts for Big Ten East underdogs
Let’s be very clear: Indiana, Rutgers and Maryland are not going to win the Big Ten East. But each have opened the season at 3-0 and have the opportunity to push for bowl games if things fall their way.
It hasn’t been pretty for the Hoosiers and Scarlet Knights, but winning ugly is better than losing. The best of the group looks to be the Terrapins, who rallied past SMU at home Saturday with quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa throwing for two scores. His go-ahead pass midway through the fourth quarter sets Maryland up for a showdown with Michigan next week.
The news isn’t as good for the non-favorites in the Big Ten West. Purdue imploded after taking a late lead at Syracuse. Northwestern dropped a home game against Southern Illinois. Nebraska, as mentioned above, simply was overrun by Oklahoma.
Nearly a Virginia two-step for Old Dominion
Shocking Virginia Tech at home had already made this a memorable season for the Monarchs. What about a second victory against the other ACC school in the commonwealth? It almost happened, this time on the road. Old Dominion played gamely through three quarters and only trailed by six when it got the ball with 3:07 left. Hayden Wolff then directed an 80-yard drive in two minutes that culminated in an 18-yard touchdown pass to Zack Kuntz. The Cavaliers would rally and kick a game-winning field goal on the final play, however that doesn’t diminish the effort by the Monarchs. It was another near miss by the Sun Belt against the Power Five after South Alabama suffered the same fate earlier in day when UCLA’s field goal as time expired won the game.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Washington, Oklahoma top college football things you missed in Week 3