Has any team been more dominant through three weeks than No. 8 Washington?
The Huskies are 3-0 with an average margin of victory of 34.7 points per game. Washington blasted preseason Mountain West favorite Boise State, 56-19, in Week 1 before blowing out Tulsa, 43-10, in Week 2. Then the Huskies went on the road and dismantled Michigan State on Saturday night, 41-7.
And the win margin against the Spartans does not even begin to tell the story of Washington’s dominance in East Lansing. The Huskies could have easily hung 50 or 60 points, but took their foot off the gas and leaned on the run game after going up 35-0 at halftime.
Michael Penix Jr., Washington’s star quarterback, did not play a single snap in the fourth quarter but he still put up an incredible 473 yards and four touchdowns. He accumulated 375 of those yards and all four touchdowns by halftime. And by the time the final seconds ticked off the clock, Washington had posted a whopping 713 yards of offense and is now averaging 9.46 yards per play on the season.
The downfield passing attack orchestrated by second-year Huskies head coach Kalen DeBoer has been downright unstoppable. Penix has already thrown for a ridiculous 1,332 yards and 12 touchdowns while completing 74.3% of his attempts with only one interception.
Not only is Penix incredibly efficient, but he has a stellar trio of receivers who can all win one-on-one matchups in a variety of ways. Whether they are skying for jump balls, running crisp routes or flat-out running past defenders, Rome Odunze (22 catches, 419 yards, 2 TDs), Jalen McMillan (20 catches, 311 yards, 3 TDs) and Ja'Lynn Polk (13 catches, 300 yards, 2 TDs) can do it all and have a strong argument to be the best wideout trio in the country.
And despite the gaudy offensive output, it feels like Washington is flying under the radar. The Huskies started the year ranked No. 10 in the AP poll and have moved up only two spots to No. 8. Washington won’t be in the spotlight for quite some time, either. In a Week 4 full of elite matchups, Washington will host Cal in the 10:30 p.m. ET window after the dust settles from the much-anticipated Ohio State vs. Notre Dame showdown in the prime-time slot.
The path to Washington being a legitimate College Football Playoff contender in the back half of the season is very realistic. UW is a three-touchdown favorite over the Golden Bears on Saturday and then will again be a big favorite the following weekend on the road against a high-scoring Arizona team. The Wildcats put an upset scare into the Huskies in Seattle last fall, so they should have Washington’s full attention. If UW can avoid an upset in these two matchups, it will be 5-0 headed into its bye week with a visit from No. 10 Oregon looming on Oct. 14.
This is a team that should not be overlooked.
Georgia’s injuries piling up
The Georgia train keeps chugging along, but are there reasons to be concerned?
The Bulldogs, the two-time defending national champions, won their 20th consecutive game on Saturday by knocking off South Carolina, 24-14. It wasn’t the crispest performance from Kirby Smart’s group. Georgia trailed 14-3 at halftime before rallying with three second-half touchdowns to win by 10 points.
In the win, Carson Beck was an efficient 27-of-35 for 269 yards while Daijun Edwards, Dillon Bell and Cash Jones all had rushing touchdowns for the Bulldogs. Defensively, UGA limited South Carolina to just 98 yards of offense in the second half and forced South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler to throw two interceptions.
On the whole, Georgia didn’t play up to its usual standards and injuries are really starting to pile up. The most significant injury setback came along the offensive line as right tackle Amarius Mims went down with what Smart called a “bad” ankle sprain.
Mims, who is expected to miss several weeks, is the latest big name added to the growing list of injured Bulldogs. Smart said Monday it’s the longest injury list he’s had during his time as head coach. Other notable injured UGA players include wide receiver Ladd McConkey (back), running backs Kendall Milton (knee) and Roderick Robinson (ankle) and safety Javon Bullard (ankle).
Injured #Georgia players:
Amarius Mims (starter)
Kendall Milton (starter)
Ladd McConkey (starter)
Javon Bullard (starter)
— Radi Nabulsi (@RadiNabulsi) September 18, 2023
Georgia has a home game against UAB this weekend that should allow some more time for some players to heal while providing others the opportunity to ease into bigger roles before SEC play resumes on the road at Auburn on Sept. 30.
Undefeated teams with prove-it games in Week 4
Through Week 3, there are 39 undefeated teams in college football. Some have barely been tested, and we're going to learn a whole lot more about their caliber this weekend.
Auburn (3-0) at Texas A&M (2-1)
Auburn is off to a 3-0 start to begin the Hugh Freeze era, but how good is this team? The Tigers have wins over UMass and Samford and also squeaked out a 14-10 road victory over Cal in an ugly game that included seven combined turnovers. This week, Auburn opens SEC play on the road against Texas A&M. The Aggies were beaten soundly on the road by Miami earlier this month, but they are the toughest team Auburn has faced by far. Texas A&M is favored by 7.5 points at BetMGM.
This will be a good data point to learn about both teams, but we're more curious about BYU as it makes its Big 12 debut. The Cougars are coming off a 38-31 road win over Arkansas, but they managed to win that game despite being outgained 424 yards to 281. BYU struggled especially to run the ball, and now it's defense will face a mighty challenge from the high-powered Kansas offense. The Jayhawks, who are 9.5-point favorites over BYU, looked dominant in a Week 2 win over Illinois but struggled to get past winless Nevada over the weekend.
No. 19 Colorado (3-0) at No. 10 Oregon (3-0)
Deion Sanders and Colorado will face their biggest test of the season by far on Saturday when they travel to Eugene to face No. 10 Oregon. The Buffs won just one game last fall but are off to an impressive 3-0 start thanks to an upset over TCU, a convincing win over Nebraska and a come-from-behind double-overtime win over Colorado State late Saturday night. CU lost star two-way player Travis Hunter in the CSU game, and his absence could be felt in a major way against the high-powered Oregon offense. The Ducks are favored by 21 points.
No. 6 Ohio State (3-0) at No. 9 Notre Dame (4-0)
Ohio State finally named Kyle McCord its starting quarterback ahead of Saturday's win over Western Kentucky and he had his best game of the season, throwing for 318 yards and three touchdowns. But facing the WKU defense at home does not compare to the task of a night game at Notre Dame. The Irish are off to a strong 4-0 start that includes a 45-24 road win over a tough NC State team. Still, this is a major step up in competition for both sides. The winner will be vaulted toward the top of the College Football Playoff discussion.
Ole Miss has a big opportunity this weekend. Alabama's quarterback struggles have been a major storyline this season, but will Lane Kiffin and the Rebels be able to take advantage of it? Thus far, Ole Miss has looked pretty crisp on offense in its wins over Mercer, Tulane and Georgia Tech. Jaxson Dart looks much improved compared to last season, but will that strong early season play carry over to the environment in Tuscaloosa against a loaded Alabama defense?
No. 22 UCLA (3-0) at No. 11 Utah (3-0)
This is a really intriguing Pac-12 matchup. Utah has managed to start 3-0 despite starting QB Cam Rising remaining on the sideline due to the knee injury he suffered in last season's Rose Bowl. The combination of Bryson Barnes and Nate Johnson has been enough for the Utes to get past Florida, Baylor and Weber State. Could Rising finally return for the Pac-12 opener? UCLA has been flying under the radar among the Pac-12 contenders as it has comfortably opened the year with wins over Coastal Carolina, San Diego State and NC Central. Freshman Dante Moore has started the last two games at QB for the Bruins, and he's in for a really tough road environment in Salt Lake City.
No. 21 Washington State (3-0) vs. No. 14 Oregon State (3-0)
WSU has been very impressive to start the season. The Cougars blasted Colorado State on the road and then upset Wisconsin at home before taking care of Northern Colorado over the weekend. Now WSU will host Oregon State, the only other remaining member of the Pac-12 after this season. Oregon State, coming off its first 10-win season since 2006, has cruised past San Jose State, UC Davis and San Diego State to open the season. But in the SDSU win, DJ Uiagalelei had a bit of a rough game as he completed only 14-of-30 throws and had two interceptions. He'll need to be better than that if the Beavers want to go into Pullman and get a win.