After a hiccup against Arizona State, the Washington Huskies offense has gotten back on track the last two weeks, and I’m expecting Michael Penix Jr. and Co. to keep things rolling on Saturday against Utah.
Yes, 8.5 is a big spread, but Washington’s offense is explosive and should be able to force Utah into a track meet, a style the Utes most certainly will want to avoid in this game.
These offenses aren’t in the same stratosphere.
The Huskies are averaging 509 yards and 41 points per game, while the Utes are averaging 352 yards and 25 points.
Penix, most people’s leading Heisman candidate at the moment, has thrown for 3,201 yards and 26 touchdowns for an offense that throws the ball all over the field and boasts multiple NFL-bound receivers.
Conversely, Utah quarterback Bryson Barnes has thrown for 930 yards and eight touchdowns.
Yes, Barnes has started fewer games and leads a more balanced attack (Utah rushes for 66 yards per game more than Washington), but still, these offenses are miles apart.
Of course, opposing offenses aren’t on the field at the same time and don’t directly go head to head.
Instead, Washington’s offense will have to compete against a defense that is giving up 15.9 points per game, the fewest in the Pac-12.
On the other hand, Washington’s defense is giving up 23 points per game, which ranks sixth in the conference.
The Utes held ASU to just three points last week, but the Sun Devils – held to 7 points by the Huskies on Oct. 21 – have been ravaged by injuries and are playing musical chairs at quarterback.
When Utah has faced the more elite offenses in the Pac-12 – USC and Oregon – it’s defense got exposed. Utah gave up 32 points to the Trojans and 35 to the Ducks.
It beat USC but was dominated by Oregon, and if the Huskies are able to get rolling the way those offenses did against Utah, it’ll be a long day for the Utes.
If Washington is able to hit a couple of big plays early, the Huskies should cover with ease.
Rome Odunze, who is averaging 17.7 yards per reception and has 989 yards and seven touchdowns on the season, can take a game over in an instant.
I can already see Penix hitting Odunze for a long touchdown early and opening the floodgates.
Against Utah, Oregon got off to a fast start and led, 14-3, after the first quarter and 21-6 at halftime.
That forced the Utes to abandon the run and try to pass their way back into the game.
But Utah never did because the team isn’t built to succeed that way.
The Huskies will certainly look to follow that script and quickly get Utah out of its comfort zone.
Utah scored a season-high 55 points last week against ASU, but I’m not reading much into that.
Betting on the NFL?
The Sun Devils aren’t a very good football team at the moment and its offense is so inept that their defense is constantly on the field.
Utah had favorable field position and a plethora of possessions throughout the game. Points were inevitable.
Playing in Seattle is never easy for opponents, and with the Huskies on the verge of clinching a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game and fighting for a berth in the College Football Playoff, expect Washington to come out firing and get off to a fast start.
The pick: Huskies (-8.5, play to -10).