Analysis: Ranking the UW Huskies’ 2023 football schedule in order of intrigue

When requested on Pac-12 Networks final week which of Washington’s 2023 matchups intrigued him the most, quarterback Michael Penix Jr. stated: “I’m not going to lie: I would not say anyone jumped out. For me, it is all about this offseason proper now. I do know you are not going to love that reply.”

So let’s present a greater one.

While no. 8 Washington prepares for what ought to be a memorable season on Montlake, let’s rank the slate in order of intrigue — beginning with a pair of first-year coaches.

12. TULSA | Sept. 9 | Seattle

This will likely be Tulsa’s second sport below new head coach (and former Ohio State offensive coordinator) Kevin Wilson, after the Golden Hurricane fired Philip Montgomery final offseason. Tulsa completed 5-7 in 2022 and 43-53 in Montgomery’s eight seasons at the helm.

Of course, the Huskies discovered to not overlook any opponent from the Montana Grizzlies in 2021. But on condition that these applications have by no means met, haven’t any prior relationship and Wilson will doubtless oversee a rebuild in 2023, there is not an entire lot of intrigue to supply.

11. At Stanford | October 28 | Palo Alto, Calif.

This is not the standard Stanford. David Shaw is out, Troy Taylor is in, and the days of the Cardinal’s Pac-12 dominance seem lengthy gone. After all, Stanford went 14-28 in Shaw’s ultimate 4 forgettable seasons. Quarterback Tanner McKee can also be headed to the NFL draft. And extra essential, if Stanford does not modify to the introduction of the switch portal and the NIL period, Taylor and Co. will wrestle to compete any time quickly.

Granted, UW received on “The Farm” for the first time in seven tries in 2021. Historically, it is not a straightforward place for Washington to win. But given Taylor’s monumental job and the lack of sport environment in Palo Alto, this won’t be a straightforward watch.

10. CALIFORNIA | Sept. 23 | Seattle

Say what you’ll about Justin Wilcox and the California Bears — who’ve gone simply 10-18 in their final three seasons — however they all the time play the Huskies tight. UW is 2-2 in its final 4 conferences, with these video games determined by a mean of 4.25 factors. Their final two bouts inside Husky Stadium additionally featured an additional time ending and a lightning delay.

UW opens Pac-12 play with Cal this fall, instantly after coming back from a premier nonconference matchup at Michigan State.

The Huskies ought to be the higher group… but it surely’s greatest to not overlook the Bears.

9. At Arizona | Sept. 30 | Tucson, Ariz.

Washington has received six straight video games towards Arizona.

And but, this may not be simple.

Heading into his third season, Jedd Fisch seems to be constructing one thing — led by quarterback Jayden de Laura and a pair of spectacular recruiting courses. Arizona introduced in a pair of linebacker transfers in Oregon’s Justin Flowe and Washington’s Daniel Heimuli.

In final season’s sport — a 49-39 UW victory — Penix broke program information for passing yards (516) and completions (36). Expect a lot of factors once more this fall.

8. BOISE STATE | Sept. 2 | Seattle

Considering Washington’s tidal wave of gifted returners — Penix, large receivers Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan, edges Bralen Trice and Zion Tupuola-Fetui, left sort out Troy Fautanu, defensive sort out Tuli Letuligasenoa, and so forth. — there ought to be ample pleasure surrounding the season opener. The Huskies will doubtless be a top-10 group, whereas Boise State (contemporary off a 10-4 season) once more has Mountain West title targets in thoughts.

Of course, these two applications will all the time share the Chris Petersen connection… however this sport is intriguing all by itself.

7. ARIZONA STATE | October 21 | Seattle

Washington followers are effectively conscious {that a} confounding loss at Arizona State saved the Huskies out of the Pac-12 championship sport (and presumably the College Football Playoff) in 2022. Their alternative for revenge will come towards a group with a brand new head coach (former Oregon offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham) and a roster primarily remade by the switch portal.

It’s unclear whether or not these Sun Devils will likely be contenders or pretenders in Year 1 below Dillingham. But Washington will not lack motivation both approach.

6. At Michigan State | Sept. 16 | East Lansing, Mich.

Washington thought it had secured a premier nonconference victory with a 39-28 thrashing of then-No. 11 Michigan State final fall … just for the Spartans to complete 5-7. Regardless, Mel Tucker’s group will likely be trying ahead to an opportunity at redemption.

As for UW, the Huskies’ schedule is backloaded, with key matchups towards USC, Utah, Oregon State and Washington State all slated for November. But a win at MSU would springboard the Huskies right into a extremely anticipated Pac-12 season.

5. WASHINGTON STATE | Nov. 25 | Seattle

It’s true, WSU misplaced each coordinators this winter, and its roster was ravaged by the switch portal. That, and two losses to cap a 7-6 season, have sapped the Cougars of a lot offseason momentum.

But the Apple Cup will all the time intrigue.

4. At Oregon State | Nov. 18 | Corvallis, Ore.

Former UW offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith has constructed his alma mater right into a reputable Pac-12 contender, having secured a 10-win season (through a win over Oregon and a bowl trouncing of Florida) in 2022. The Beavers added former Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei this offseason and can host the Huskies inside a newly renovated Reser Stadium in Nov. 18

Cue the chain saws and buckle up.

3. UTAH | Nov. 11 | SEATTLE

Like it or not, Utah is the back-to-back Pac-12 champ, which implies Washington should undergo the Utes to perform its targets in 2023. Of course, Husky followers are doubtless sad that Utah received a tiebreaker to look in the Pac-12 title sport in any respect, or that the Utes then upset USC to knock UW out of a Rose Bowl date towards Penn State.

On Nov. 11, the Huskies will meet Utah (and returning quarterback Cameron Rising) for the first time since securing a dramatic comeback victory in 2020. To be the champs, they’re going to should beat the champs.

2. At USC | Nov. 4 | Los Angeles

This is shaping as much as be a gathering of two College Football Playoff contenders, two Pac-12 title contenders, two Heisman Trophy candidates (Penix and USC QB Caleb Williams), two Pac-12 Coach of the Year candidates (UW’s Kalen DeBoer and USC’s Lincoln Riley) and two of the nation’s most explosive offenses. It’s additionally UW’s final sport at USC earlier than the Trojans bolt for the Big Ten.

But apart from that, there’s not a lot to see.

1. OREGON | October 14 | Seattle

How might the prime spot go to anybody else? After throwing for 408 yards and two touchdowns in an iconic 37-34 win in Eugene, Ore., final fall, Penix will try to provide a sequel in Seattle. Both Penix and Oregon quarterback Bo Nix are again. Both groups got a pregame off week to get rid of excuses. And with USC and UCLA approaching the exit, these Pacific Northwest rivals are positioned to compete for Pac-12 titles (and playoff positions) for years to come back.

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