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No. 17 Washington welcomes Colorado with big games ahead

Nov 4, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington Huskies head coach Kalen DeBoer talks with quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) during a fourth quarter timeout at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

For first-year Washington coach Kalen DeBoer, last weekend’s 37-34 victory at then-No. 6 Oregon is already being called a program-defining victory.

And next week, the Huskies will travel to Pullman, Wash., to play rival Washington State in the Apple Cup.

So is there a chance No. 17 Washington (8-2, 5-2 Pac-12) could overlook lowly Colorado (1-9, 1-6) when the teams meet Saturday in Seattle?

“That’s always the concern, right? No matter who you are, big game and then everything that Colorado’s been through,” DeBoer said. “A few weeks back we went on a two-game losing streak and we’re going to learn from those games just like we have the wins as well. We’ve got to be ready. We’ve got a lot riding on the season as far as the opportunities that could present themselves. Before we think about the last week of the season, we’ve got to make sure we’re focused on Colorado.”

While DeBoer wasn’t around, it’s likely most of his players remember last year’s trip to Colorado. Needing a victory to keep their bowl hopes alive, the Huskies lost 20-17 despite outgaining the Buffaloes 426-183. Washington was just 2 of 14 on third downs and committed four turnovers.

Of course, that UW team didn’t have Michael Penix Jr. at quarterback.

Penix, a transfer from Indiana who played under DeBoer in 2019 when he was the Hoosiers’ offensive coordinator, leads the nation with 3,640 yards passing. He is completing 67.1 percent of his attempts with 25 touchdowns and just six interceptions.

“Man, Coach DeBoer … I thank him every single day,” said Penix, who threw for 408 yards and two touchdowns last week against the Ducks. “He’s a guy that always believed in me since he’s known me. Him trusting me, not worrying about my past with injuries and trusting I’ll come out here and be able to lead this team to great heights, I thank him all the time.

“I love Coach DeBoer. I’m definitely in the right place. I’m glad I chose here and I look forward to continuing to make memories here.”

The Buffaloes are coming off a 55-17 loss last Friday at then-No. 8 Southern California.

After winning their first game under interim coach Mike Sanford, 20-13 in overtime against visiting California, the Buffaloes have dropped four in a row by an average margin of 29.5 points.

“We’re living in the present, we’re making everything about the players,” said Sanford, who took over after Karl Dorrell was fired Oct. 2. “But obviously, you get down towards the end of it and all of a sudden, it’s obviously very clear that we’re not in the postseason — there’s no bowl opportunities — and you have to really wake up every day and even as a staff, even myself as the head coach, you’ve got to really stay truly in the present.”

Colorado ranks last in the conference in both offense and defense. The Buffaloes are 124th of 131 FBS teams in total offense with 298.7 yards per game and 129th in total defense, yielding 488.0 yards.

–Field Level Media