December 11, 2023

There won’t be a Week 7 game with more on the line than No. 7 Washington (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12 ) hosting No. 8 Oregon (5-0, 2-0) Saturday in a clash between top 10 teams.

Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and Ducks quarterback Bo Nix will take center stage. Penix enters the game with the best chance of winning the Heisman Trophy, at +200, according to Thursday’s odds on BetMGM. Nix is third on the list, at +600.

The quarterbacks will get much well-deserved attention, but the result could hinge upon which defense plays better. Oregon enters the game allowing 11.8 points per game and the Huskies give up a little under 19 points on average.

Michael Penix Jr.
Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. #9 of the Washington Huskies drops back to pass at Arizona Stadium on September 30, 2023, in Tucson, Arizona. In a key battle of 5-0 teams on Saturday, the No. 7 Huskies play host to the No. 8 Oregon Ducks.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Penix leads a passing offense that averages nearly 450 yards through the air per game, which is No. 1 in the nation. He’ll face an Oregon defense that is fifth in the FBS in passing defense at 153.6 YPG and is second in pass yards allowed per attempt (4.8).

One of the reasons Penix has completed nearly 75 percent of his passes is how well the Huskies offensive line protects him. Washington has allowed just three sacks this season, two of which came in last week’s win against Arizona.

“They probably give the biggest variety of pre-snap motions and shifts of any team we’ve played so far this year,” Oregon coach Dan Lanning said during his Monday press conference. “They have a great deep passing attack, but I think Mike can also get rid of the ball when he has pressure on him. We had him hemmed up a couple of times last year, and we didn’t finish. He did a good job of avoiding it and probably doesn’t get enough credit for that.”

Speaking of last year’s game, Nix threw for 280 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 55 yards and an additional touchdown in the Ducks’ three-point loss against the Huskies. Nix faces a defense that has forced eight interceptions through five games. The Huskies have scored touchdowns off six of the eight turnovers.

Nix spoke to reporters after Oregon’s practice on Tuesday and said he’s circled this date on the calendar.

“It’s definitely motivation,” Nix told reporters. “I think how the game ended last year is not how you want it to work but it’s part of it. It can serve as a motivator or it can get you down. Obviously, it’s one that I’ve been looking forward to just because of last year and how it ended. I think there are a lot of games you look forward to and I know they’re looking forward to it as well.

Nix is the nation’s most accurate passer and leads a Ducks offense that’s No. 2 nationally with 51.6 points per game. Washington is third in the nation at 46 points per game.

ABC will air the game with a 3:30 Saturday ET kickoff. BetMGM Sportsbook as of Thursday has the Huskies as a favorite by three points. Oddsmakers expect a high scoring battle, with the over/under set at 67.5.