Thursday, July 18, 2024

No. 5 Washington rallies to avoid upset vs. Arizona State as Michael Penix’s Heisman campaign takes hit


No. 5 Washington overcame four turnovers and a lackluster night from star quarterback Michael Penix Jr. to edge Arizona State 15-7 and avoid a catastrophic upset one week after a signature win over Oregon. The Sun Devils, now 1-6, held a lead against the Huskies for a majority of the game. Needing an answer midway through the fourth quarter with its College Football Playoff hopes on the line, it was Washington’s defense that stepped up. 

Facing a fourth-and-3 from Washington’s 12-yard line. Sun Devils quarterback Trenton Bourguet was intercepted by Mishael Powell, who returned it 89 yards for a touchdown. Though the Huskies failed on the 2-point conversion, it took a 12-7 lead — its first of the night — and never relinquished it. 

The pick six was also Washington’s only touchdown on a night in which the defense constantly answered the bell when put in difficult situations. It was the Huskies first win without an offensive touchdown since 2001. 

Washington turned the ball over on four of its first six possessions. Two of those turnovers gave Arizona State the ball in plus territory, including a Penix interception on Washington’s first drive of the game that set the Sun Devils up with first-and-10 on the Huskies’ 23-yard line. However, Washington’s defense allowed just a single touchdown off of the turnovers. 

Penix loses Heisman ground

Saturday’s win could come with a cost for the Huskies. Penix, the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy entering Saturday’s slate, lost some ground in the race. Penix is now at +260 odds to win college football’s highest individual honor; Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy is the new leader at +200. There’s still plenty of season left, but it Penix will have to prove he’s more than the win over Oregon. 

Saturday’s near miss didn’t help. Penix committed four turnovers — two interceptions and two fumbles — while accounting for zero touchdowns against an Arizona State defense that allows more than 28 points per game. He also hit on 27 of his 42 pass attempts, which stands as his second-worst completion rate of the season.

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