Penix displays ‘the heart’ and ‘the guts’ during No. 7 Washington’s 36-33 win over No. 8 Oregon 

Moments after No. 7 Washington defeated the Ducks and fans swarmed Husky Stadium, quarterback Michael Penix Jr. was led off the field with a security guard. 

Penix, swarmed by fans and Huskies supporters from all corners of the field, took in the moment that came after a top-10 victory at home

“Whoever the security guard was, man, he did amazing,” Penix said. “I’m sorry for some of the people that got shoved out of the way but like, it was just a blessing. I was just excited, and as much as I did want to celebrate with the fans, like you said, it was very hectic out there, but in a good way, in a good way, and I’m just super blessed to be in the position I’m in today.”

PODCAST: Top games, bounce backs and more in a busy week seven

Saturday was the first time Washington and Oregon faced one another in a top-10 setting, and Huskies head coach Kalen DeBoer felt it ranks high in his books. 

“If there’s one that I’ve been a part of that was bigger, better, I can’t think of it right now,” DeBoer said. 

Penix led the Huskies on a fourth quarter comeback over No. 8 Oregon, taking advantage of a key stop on fourth down. 

With 2:11 left to play and his team trailing 33-29, Penix dialed up two plays to his wide receivers, and they were enough to will the team into the end zone and toward the win. 

All of it came after Washington could’ve put the game away earlier after missing a 4th and 1 at Oregon’s 1-yard line. 

“We got a team full of dogs, man, just guys that’s going to compete all the way to the end, and that’s what it was all about,” Penix said. “The whole time on the sideline, once we didn’t get that fourth down down there, we already knew. We was talking to ourselves like, ‘Hey, we’re going get the ball back. We just got to go down there and execute at a high level and we’re going to come up with the win,’ and that’s what we was able to do.” 

Oregon’s man coverage wasn’t enough to stop the arm of Penix, who entered the day leading the NCAA in total offense averaging over 400 yards per game by himself.

READ: Big Board: Week 7

Penix found receiver Ja’Lynn Polk for 35 yards into Oregon territory, then connected with Rome Odunze on the 18-yard touchdown reception that turned out to be the game-winning score. 

“Just man on man, and my guy versus their guy. I’m going to take my guy every time,” Penix said. “Rome shows each and every day why he’s top receiver in the nation. He knew that I was going to trust him, and I gave him that fade route and we made it happen. That’s stuff we do all the time in practice. Every game y’all see it so I trusted it and I just made the play and he made the play, really.” 

The Ducks and Huskies were back and forth all afternoon. 

Washington took a 22-18 lead into halftime after Oregon made a two-point conversion on its first touchdown of the first half. The Huskies had outgained the Ducks 260 yards to 231, but later were outgained in the game 541 to 415. 

The Huskies had a lead as large as 29-18 with more than 10 minutes to go in the third quarter, but then they fell scoreless until the final two minutes of the game. 

This allowed Oregon and quarterback Bo Nix, who threw a pair of touchdowns, to take a 29-26 lead after Nix found receiver Troy Franklin 30 yards down the field for a score. 

“We felt like at times we were beating ourselves,” Penix said. “We allowed the game to be closer than what we wanted it to, but at the end of the day, like I said, they’re a good team and we’re a good team, and we know that rivalry games it comes down to the wire most of the time so we were just prepared to go out there and attack each and every play.” 

PODCAST: Kirby Smart is Right for Not Caring

Penix dealt with nagging cramps in the fourth quarter, he said, and it even required him to take a trip to the medical tent. 

But cramps denied, and a long time after two ACL injuries from his playing days at Indiana, and Penix was determined to lead Washington back ahead and victorious. 

“This is Michael,” DeBoer said. “He’s just been through it for so many years and I mean, there’s no way you’re pulling him off the field in that moment. I mean, he’s out there in the fourth quarter and we circle around him, and it’s a lot of energy to get out there and just really let it all out and talk to the whole team. And you know, who’s in the middle? It’s Michael, and so the production, the talent, all that, I mean, that’s one thing, but the heart that he’s got and the guts he’s got and the willingness to just grind through it, grit, I mean, there’s not enough words to describe how I feel about him and I think our whole team would echo that for sure.” 

Penix finished with 302 passing yards and four touchdowns. His lone interception came late in the second quarter. 

His performance through the first six weeks of the season had been enough to keep Penix in the Heisman Trophy conversation. Penix’s performance on Saturday, though, may’ve made him a frontrunner. 

“I’m just going to continue to keep my head down and keep going,” Penix said. “This is not the end.”