EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michael Penix Jr. and his teammates talked during the offseason about how last year was the first step for the Washington offense to develop and how good it could be this year.
Penix and the No. 8 Huskies gave a glimpse of its offensive explosiveness Saturday with a 41-7 win over Michigan State.
“Just coming into last season for me it wasn’t my first year in the offense but for the rest of the team it was,” said Penix after throwing for 473 yards and four touchdowns, including three to Jack Westover. “I was saying being able to come back for another year with the same guys and offense for a second year is definitely going to be special, and it’s been special so far.”
Playing Michigan State has also been special for Penix who in four games against the Spartans has completed 109 of 175 passes for 1,476 yards, 13 TDs and and only two interceptions.
Penix “set the tone, really got us off and rolling with a lot of momentum,” said Huskies coach Kalen DeBoer.
Penix, who completed 27 of 35 passes, led the Huskies to touchdowns on five of their seven first-half drives and a 35-0 halftime lead. He had scoring throws of 5, 13 and 7 yards to Westover, and a 30-yarder to Ja’Lynn Polk. Former Michigan State wide receiver Germie Bernard, who transferred to Washington after last season, also added a 1-yard touchdown run.
The Huskies (3-0) totaled 713 yards of offense which is the most ever given up by the Spartans, topping the previous high of 666 yards by Nebraska in 1995.
“Just proud of the way we played in all phases,” DeBoer said. “You know, special teams, offense, defense, just from start to finish.”
The Spartans (2-1), who were playing their first game without suspended coach Mel Tucker, struggled offensively through most of the game and didn’t score until backup quarterback Katin Houser had a 4-yard run with 5:48 left.
Michigan State defensive backs coach Harlon Barnett was appointed interim coach to replace Tucker, who was suspended Sunday pending the results of an outside investigation into a USA Today report that alleged he sexually harassed activist and rape survivor Brenda Tracy during a phone call last year.
Michigan State wide receiver Tre Mosley refused to use the suspension as an excuse for the outcome.
“When it came out, it was a shock to everyone,” he said. “But after that we did a great job moving on because we had an opponent to get ready for it. So we couldn’t live in the past and start to cry or make excuses because Washington didn’t care what was going on with us in our program.”
Former Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio, the winningest coach in school history, returned Saturday.
Dantonio, who retired in February 2020 after a 13-year run, observed the game from the Spartans’ sideline. He received a standing ovation when he was introduced during a ceremony recognizing his 2014 Rose Bowl-winning team.
Washington: While much attention has been given to the offense, the Huskies’ defense has been impressive through its first three games. Opponents have been held to a total of 36 points.
MSU: Michigan State’s pass defense had no answers for stopping the Huskies’ explosive offense. Penix dissected the defense with his precision passing to his sure-handed receivers who were wide-open most of the game.
Washington: Opens the Pac-12 season hosting Cal on Saturday.
MSU: Hosts Maryland on Saturday in the Big Ten opener for both schools.