STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — The high-powered offense that carried No. 5 Washington for most of the season went mysteriously missing last week.
Michael Penix Jr. and the Huskies didn't manage a single offensive touchdown against Arizona State but still managed to find a way to win and extend the nation's second-longest active winning streak to 14 games.
Washington (7-0, 4-0 Pac-12) will try to extend that streak and get back into gear offensively when the Huskies hit the road to face Stanford (2-5, 1-4) on Saturday.
“There’s an expectation when we step on the field that there’s going to be points scored and a lot of exciting moments from a fan’s perspective each and every time we play," coach Kalen DeBoer said. "That didn’t go the way you would expect as far as the night but there was a lot grit and a lot of guys that just stayed the course and just kept fighting.
“We have a solution-oriented group of guys. I don’t care if it’s defense or offense, but collectively as a team we’re going to continue to fight and find a solution and a way to win."
The Huskies are averaging 40.1 points per game on the season behind 20 TD passes from Penix, even after being held in check in the 15-7 win last week.
The Cardinal are coming off an even worse week, losing 42-7 at home to UCLA for their third lopsided loss of the season to a ranked team.
Stanford has been outscored 140-23 in the losses to USC, Oregon and UCLA and now faces its toughest test yet against the Huskies.
“We just got to play better. Really a good team,” coach Troy Taylor said of the loss to UCLA. “But we’re playing another. Each week we play another great team. And these guys are maybe the best team we played so far.”
LAST REST STOP
Not to diminish going on the road and playing at Stanford, but this week is the final respite for the Huskies before a brutal November.
Washington will open the final month on the road at No. 24 USC next week. Then it’s a home game against No. 13 Utah, followed by the last road game of the season at No. 11 Oregon State. And to conclude the month, the Huskies will host Washington State in what’s sure to be a supercharged Apple Cup with the uncertainty of what the future may hold for the rivalry game.
Facing the Cardinal is likely the last game this season the Huskies will be heavy favorites.
Stanford has been outscored 50-0 in the first half the past two weeks against Colorado and UCLA. The Cardinal rallied from 29-0 down to beat the Buffaloes two weeks ago in the biggest comeback in school history but were unable to repeat the trick against the Bruins. They trailed 35-0 before finally scoring their only TD late in the third quarter.
Fixing that has been a priority this week for Taylor.
“We’ll mix things up in practice and try to get our guys a little bit more fresh,” Taylor said. “You just can’t put yourself in a hole and expect to be able to come back and win."
Washington is hoping to get wide receiver Jalen McMillan back this week after he missed most of the past 4½ games with a leg injury. McMillan was injured during the first half of Washington’s win at Michigan State in Week 3. He returned in time for the game against Oregon, but played just one series in the first quarter and was a spectator the rest of the way. McMillan was back in practice and if he doesn’t return this week, he should be ready to go for the game at USC.
McMillan had 20 catches for 311 yards and three touchdowns in his first 2½ games this season. With McMillan out, Ja’Lynn Polk has become the No. 2 option for Penix behind Rome Odunze, while others like wide receivers Giles Jackson, Germie Bernard and tight end Jack Westover have had their own big moments.
This could be Washington’s last trip to The Farm for the foreseeable future with the collapse of the Pac-12 and the Huskies headed for the Big Ten and the Cardinal going to the ACC. The Washington-Stanford series began in 1893 and the Cardinal are the oldest collegiate foe for the Huskies. Aside from schools that no longer have football or no longer exist, Washington didn’t play another college team aside from Stanford until 1900.
AP Sports Writer Tim Booth in Seattle contributed to this report
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