Washington Huskies Football News: Tonight at 8 PM, No. 3 Dawgs To Face No. 5 Ducks For Pac-12 Title

By Bane Rossi






November 27, 2023


THE GAME: The Washington football team (12-0, 9-0 Pac-12) takes on Oregon (11-1, 8-1) for the 2023 Pac-12 Football Championship, Friday night at Allegient Stadium in Las Vegas. Kickoff is 5:00 p.m. PT and the game will air on ABC television. Both teams remain well in contention for one of four berths in the College Football Playoff as the Huskies are ranked No. 3 and the Ducks are No. 5 in both polls. The game is a rematch of one of college football’s most thrilling games of 2023, as the then-No. 7 Huskies beat the No. 8 Ducks, 36-33, before a packed Husky Stadium on Oct. 14. It will be the 116th Washington-Oregon game – but just the second featuring two top-10 teams (along with this season’s earlier game).

QUICK HITTERS: The Huskies are 2-0 in Pac-12 Championship Games, having beaten Colorado, 41-10, in the 2016 game; and Utah, 10-3, in 2018 … Washington is 23-2 overall under head coach Kalen DeBoer, whose career head coaching record is now 102-11 … UW is 12-0 for just the second time in school history … the Huskies are No. 2 the nation in passing offense and are No. 12 in total offense … UW is also No. 10 in the nation in punt return defense (1.8 per return) and rank No. 13 in kick return defense (15.8 per return)  … Rome Odunze has 1,326 receiving yards, just 128 shy of Reggie Williams’ school record (1,454 in 2002) … in less than two seasons, Michael Penix Jr. is up to third in UW history in career TD passes, with 63 … he has thrown multiple TDs in 20 of his 25 games at UW … his 8,540 career yards rank him 4th at UW … through 10 games, Penix is No. 2 in FBS passing yards and pass yards per game, No. 4 in total offense, No. 4 in pass TDs and No. 11 in pass efficiency … four different UW receivers – Jalen McMillanRome OdunzeJa’Lynn Polk and Germie Bernard (2) – have scored a rushing TD this season … prior to this season, UW had had just eight games in its history in which two players had 100 receiving yards (including two last year) … this season, that has happened in 5 games … Penix is currently No. 1 in the nation in pass plays of 10-plus (155 plays)  … UW has the nation’s second-longest active FBS winning streak, at 19 … only Georgia (29) has a longer active streak … the win streak is the third-longest in UW history, after 40 (1908-16) and 22 (1990-92) … not counting the 4-game 2020 season, the Huskies have won 10 or more games in 5 of the last 7 seasons.

TELEVISION: The Pac-12 Championship game will air on ABC, with Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Holly Rowe calling the action. Fans will with the proper subscription can also stream at espn.com/watch.

RADIO:  All Washington football games will air on the Washington Sports Network from Learfield, with Tony Castricone (play by play), former Husky tight end Cameron Cleeland (analyst) and former UW basketball player Elise Woodward (sidelines) on the call. Radio coverage begins four hours before kickoff on the network’s flagship station – Seattle’s SportsRadio KJR 93.3 FM – with “Husky Gameday” live from The Zone for Husky home games. Statewide coverage on the 17-station Washington Sports Network begins two hours before kickoff. The entire broadcast is available worldwide on the Huskies Gameday mobile app and the Varsity app. The UW broadcast of this game will also air on Sirius/XM channel 84. ESPN Radio will carry a national broadcast with Mark Kestecher, Kelly Stouffer & Ian Fitzsimmons (Sirius/XM 80).

HUSKIES vs. DUCKS HISTORY:  Washington leads the all-time series against the Ducks with 62 wins, 48 losses and five ties.

In games played in Seattle, the Huskies are 33-23-4 against their cross-border rivals, while in games played in Eugene, the Ducks enjoy an 18-14 edge all-time (Oregon’s home games vs. the UW were played in Portland for many years). The Ducks have had the edge of late, winning 20 of the last 28 against the Dawgs.

Earlier this year, in an absolute classic, the Huskies came out on top, 36-33, scoring the go-ahead TD (an 18-yard pass from Michael Penix Jr. to Rome Odunze) with 1:36 left. Penix threw for 305 yards and four TDs while Dillon Johnson rushed for 100 yards and a score.

Last year’s game in Eugene was a memorable one as UW emerged from a back-and-forth affair with a 37-34 win, thanks to a last-minute field goal from Peyton Henry, along with late, long TD catches from Ja’Lynn Polk and Taj Davis. In 2021 in Seattle, Oregon overcame an early, 9-3 deficit to win, 26-16, holding UW to just seven first downs and 166 yards of total offense. The teams did not play during the 2020 season (UW played only four games that year). In 2019 in Seattle, Oregon scored with 5:10 remaining in the game to win 35-31.  Washington could only reach the Ducks’ 35-yard line on the ensuing drive before failing to convert a fourth down. Salvon Ahmed rushed for 140 yards and Jacob Eason passed for 289 and three TDs for the Dawgs.

In 2018 in Eugene, the Ducks edged the Huskies, 30-27, in overtime. Washington got a field goal in the opening overtime period, but the Ducks scored a touchdown in their possession to win the game.

In 2017  in Seattle, UW’s Dante Pettis broke the NCAA record with his ninth career punt return for a TD and the UW held Oregon to just 31 passing yards in a 38-3 UW win. In 2016, the Dawgs broke the Ducks’ long win streak in the series with a 70-21 win in Eugene. Jake Browning was 22-for-28 for 304 yards and a school-record six TD passes (plus two rushing TDs) while Myles Gaskin rushed for 197 yards on just 16 carries.

In 2015 in Seattle, Oregon won, 26-20, as a third-quarter, 72-yard run from Myles Gaskin and a three-yard pass from  Browning to Jaydon Mickens in the fourth brought the UW to within six points. The Ducks, however, intercepted a last-minute pass to preserve the win. In 2014 in Eugene, a 21-point output from Oregon in the second quarter was the major difference in a 45-20 Ducks win.  In 2013 at Husky Stadium, the Ducks stretched a seven-point lead heading into the fourth quarter into a 45-24 victory. Marcus Mariota passed for 366 yards and three TDs rushed for 88 and one while the Huskies got 167 rushing yards from Bishop Sankey. In 2012 in Eugene, second-ranked Oregon beat No. 23 Washington, 52-21.

In 2011, in the final game at the old Husky Stadium, the Ducks beat the UW, 34-17. In 2010 in Eugene, UW QB Keith Price made his first college start in a 53-16 Husky loss. Oregon led 18-16 in the third quarter before pulling away. In 2009 at Husky Stadium, Oregon won, 43-19. In 2008 in Eugene in the season-opener for both teams, Jeremiah Masoli came off the bench and led the Ducks to a 44-10 win. In 2007 in Seattle, the Huskies and Ducks were tied at 31-31 after three quarters before Oregon pulled away in the final period for a 55-34 win.

The Huskies’ last win over Oregon prior to 2016 was in 2003, when Shelton Sampson and Kenny James both rushed for over 100 yards in a 42-10 Husky victory. Washington and Oregon first met on the football field in 1900, a 43-0 Oregon win in Eugene. The Huskies got their first win in the series in the next meeting, a 6-5 victory in 1903. From 1974 to 1993, Washington won 17 of 20 meetings. The series also features one of the biggest year-to-year turnarounds in college football history as the Ducks beat the Huskies, 58-0, in 1973 and then lost at the UW, 66-0, the following year.

DAWGS AND THE NORTHWEST:  Washington’s most-played rivalries are against the other three other northwest Pac-12 schools. The Huskies have faced Washington State 115 times, Oregon in 115 games and Oregon State on 107 occasions. Washington owns the advantage in all three series. The Huskies lead the Ducks 62-48-5, Washington State 76-33-6 and Oregon State 68-35-4. Combined, Washington has a 206-116-15 (.634) record against its northwest rivals. Washington has played all three of the Northwest teams in a season on 93 prior occasions. Over those 93 seasons in which Oregon, OSU and WSU were all on the UW schedule, the Dawgs have swept all three 32 times, including this year. In the meantime, the Huskies have lost to all three in the same season on only eight occasions.

SPECIAL TEAMS EXCELLENCE: Through 12 games, Washington is No. 10 in the nation in punt return defense, having allowed an average of 1.8 yards in returns over the season. UW is also No. 13 in FBS in kick return defense (15.8 yds. per return).

EXPERIENCE AND YOUTH: Washington’s current roster includes a total of 34 players – 17 each on offense and defense – who have started at least one game for the Huskies prior to 2023. Entering the year, the 17 offensive players had totaled 145 starts in the Purple & Gold, while the 17 defensive players (which includes former offensive line starter Ulumoo Ale) had 156 starts between them. Tight end Devin Culp entered the 2023 season with the highest total of starts under is belt among offensive players, with 18, while safety zx0Asa Turner, with 23 career starts entering 2023, led the defensive side. The list of Dawgs with starting experience doesn’t take into account the 10 current Huskies who transferred to UW after having started at another four-year college, nor does it account for starting “specialists.” Washington 119-man roster entering the year included just 15 players in their final year of eligibility, along with 29 true freshmen, 15 redshirt freshmen, 35 sophomores and 25 juniors. Potentially, 104 current Huskies could return for 2024, while 79 enter the 2023 season with three or more years of eligibility remaining.

GRADUATED DAWGS: The 2023 Washington football roster includes 23 players who have earned their bachelor’s degree. Here are those 23, alphabetically: Ulomoo Ale, Jacob BandesJulius BuelowDevin CulpTroy FautanuDrew FowlerRalen GoforthDominique HamptonAntonio HillGiles JacksonTuli LetuligasenoaMatteo MeleQuentin MooreDylan MorrisJabbar MuhammadRichard NewtonMichael Penix Jr.Faatui TuiteleZion Tupuola-FetuiAlphonzo TuputalaAsa TurnerEdefuan Ulofoshio, and Jack Westover.

LONG PLAYS: Washington has notched 78 scrimmage plays of 20 or more yards over its first 12 games, the fifth-highest total in the nation. UW is also No. 7 in the nation with 38 plays of 30 yards or more. Those totals include 62 passes of 20 or more yards, and 29 of 30 or more, from quarterback Michael Penix Jr. Those totals are No. 2 and 4 in the nation. Penix also leads FBS with 155 completions of 10 yards or more, 10 more than the next closest QB. Additionally, Rome Odunze is second in the nation with 56 receptions of 10-plus and is also No. 2 with 26 of 20-plus yards, while Ja’Lynn Polk has 16 20-plus yard receptions (25th in the nation). Meanwhile, UW’s defense has allowed 48 plays of 20 or more yards this season, 30 fewer than the Husky offense has had. UW has allowed just six rushing plays of 20-plus yards.

Last year, Washington finished the season with 62 passing plays for 20 or more yards, tied for eighth-most in the nation (five teams that ranked higher played more games than UW’s 13). Washington led the nation last year with 193 pass plays for 10 or more yards.

12 WINS: Washington has finished the regular season unbeaten for the first time since 1991, when the Huskies went 11-0 in the regular season before beating Michigan in the 1991 Rose Bowl. Prior to that, the Huskies hadn’t gone unbeaten and untied in the regular season since 1916. The Dawgs also won 12 games for just the third time ever (12-0 in 1991; 12-2 in 2016).

TWO 100-YARD RECEIVERS IN A GAME: Prior to the start of this season, Washington had had just eight games in its history with two players finishing with 100 or more receiving yards (including two such games last year). So far this season, UW has had two players with 100 receiving yards in five of 11 games:
vs. Boise State: Rome Oduzne (132) & Ja’Lynn Polk (101)
vs. Tulsa: Jalen McMillan (120) & Odunze (107)
at Michigan State: Odunze (180) & Polk (118)
vs. California: Polk (127) & Odunze (125)
vs. Oregon: Odunze (128) & Polk (118)
Additionally, last year, Odunze was the first Husky ever to record four straight 100-yard games. In the first four games of 2023, he matched that streak.

CONFERENCE MOVES: Along with USC, UCLA and Oregon, the Huskies will move to the Big Ten Conference after this coming academic year (2023-24) and will play a Big Ten schedule in 2024. Four other current Pac-12 programs – Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah – will join the Big 12 Conference in 2024-25; while Stanford and California will join the ACC. Washington has been a member of what is now the Pac-12 since the inception of the league, in 1915. Only the UW and California have/had been members in every year since. The UW football team has won a league title in every decade  since the 1910s, other than the 2020s – the Dawgs will have one last chance to extend that streak this year.