SEATTLE - Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. appears ready for next week’s matchup with an old Big Ten rival after another lightning-fast start.
The Huskies stayed unbeaten under new coach Kalen DeBoer with a 52-6 win over FCS opponent Portland State on Saturday. Up next is Washington’s first real challenge of the season: No. 14 Michigan State next Saturday.
"It’s definitely a statement game," Penix said. "And, you know, we’re definitely going to make sure we’re going to go out there and just play how we’ve been playing, play free and just execute at a high level."
A high level, indeed. Penix threw for 337 yards and two touchdowns, Wayne Taulapapa rushed for 94 yards and a score and the Huskies (2-0) easily took down the Vikings (0-2) before things get serious with Michigan State and Stanford due in town over the next two weeks.
Penix broke open the game with an 84-yard touchdown pass to Jalen McMillan with 9:51 left in the second quarter for a 21-0 lead. He also threw to Ja’Lynn Polk for a 12-yard score in the half. Cameron Davis scored two rushing touchdowns and Will Nixon and Denzel Boston added rushing TDs of their own as the Huskies ran for 241 yards and five touchdowns.
The Huskies had 500 of their 617 yards by the end of the third quarter. With more than 1,100 yards in two weeks, the team is matching the vision that UW had when it brought in DeBoer, a two-year head coach at Fresno State, to replace Jimmy Lake.
"We saw that something big was going to happen," wide receiver Giles Jackson said. "We just knew that the offense is totally different than last year and a lot more explosive."
Penix had 248 yards passing by halftime as Washington built a 31-3 lead, a late first-half overthrown interception his only blemish on the score sheet.
McMillan finished with four catches for 127 yards. His TD catch was the seventh longest reception in school history and capped UW’s fourth 99-yard drive. Later in the second quarter he caught a 37-yard pass from Penix to set up Taulapapa’s 6-yard score for a 28-3 lead with 2:13 left in the half.
"Me and him hang outside of football, so, I mean, we have that connection already," McMillan said of Penix. "But he’s also super calm. And you know, when I have a calm quarterback going into the game, it makes me calm myself. So just his poise and him just being able to stand there and just be confident within himself, I can be confident in myself."
Washington held Portland State to 131 total yards and just 50 yards passing by quarterback Dante Chachere. The Vikings played hard-nosed, clean football with no turnovers, but it had little effect against the more athletic Huskies.
"That was the University of Washington, that wasn’t us," Portland State coach Bruce Barnum said. "We made some mistakes early. Our guys were all hyped up playing in Husky Stadium. But once we settled down, that was just the University of Washington’s front seven doing a hell of a job on him."
Portland State: The Vikings were never really in the game, but punched above their weight class for the second straight week after nearly upsetting San Jose State in the opener, a 21-17 loss decided with a about a minute to play. They were disciplined and tough against their second straight FBS opponent, a good sign with the Big Sky Conference opener in two weeks.
Washington: The Huskies showed they’ll be more than just Air Penix with a couple of hard-nosed rushing efforts by Virginia transfer Taulapapa and Davis, who combined for more than 125 yards and two touchdowns by halftime. They’ll need more of that to keep the Spartans out of Penix’s face.
Giles Jackson had six catches for 105 yards, marking the first time the Huskies have had two 100-yard receivers in the same game since John Ross and Dante Pettis accomplished the feat in 2016 against Cal. McMillan dedicated the game to his grandfather, Earl G. McMillan, who died recently.
Portland State: The Vikings take a week off before a trip to FCS third-ranked Montana to open the Big Sky Conference schedule.