The time has come for the Washington Huskies to officially turn the page away from a tumultuous 2021 season. The program will open its season at home against the Kent State Golden Flashes, who went 7-7 overall last season. UW would like to start this year much better than last season.
Last year, Washington embarrassingly fell to the Montana Grizzlies 13-7 at home in its season opener. A lot of things have happened with the program since that day. Kalen DeBoer takes over for Jimmy Lake, who was fired late in the 2021 season. DeBoer’s offensive background should give the Huskies the scoring prowess it lacked last year.
On the flip side, the Golden Flashes are coming off a season where they fell 41-23 to Northern Illinois in the MAC Conference Championship game. Sean Lewis’s program usually plays a tough nonconference schedule. This year is no different as his team visits Washington before eventual trips to Oklahoma and Georgia.
How Washington Wins
Michael Penix Jr. immediately shows why DeBoer named him the starter. Penix transferred to Washington after positing 4,197 passing yards. 29 passing TDs and six rushing TDs. That’s far better than anything last year’s quarterbacks Dylan Morris and Sam Huard put forth.
Penix will have time to establish a connection with WR Jalen McMillan and TE Devin Culp during the game. The Golden Flashes were ranked 123rd in 3rd Down Defense and 115th in passing yards allowed per game. Kent State has defensive returners like Safety Dean Clark and corner Montre Miller. Even if the defense is improved, Penix should be able to create more than enough plays.
Also, Washington’s calling card is its defense. It had the No. 1 pass defense in the country last year. The program lost NFL talent like Trent McDuffie and Kyler Gordon. However, there’s still more than enough talent left over to make up for it.
How Kent State Wins
Kent State averaged the fourth most rushing yards per game in college football in 2021. The runningback duo that led the attack, Marquez Cooper and Xavier Williams, are back. The two combined for 2,017 rushing yards and 14 TDs last year. Those need to be effective in order to win.
Luckily for the Golden Flashes, Washington ranked 107th in rushing defense last season. Yes, the Huskies’ defense does have talent, but a lot of their projected key players are either coming back from injuries or transfers. Plus, UW has a new defensive staff. There’s an opportunity for Kent State to strike on the ground before the Huskies staff and players adjust to working with one another.
However, the Golden Flashes need junior quarterback Collin Schlee to be an effective replacement to Dustin Crum, who is gone. Last year, Crum had 3,238 passing yards with a 20-6 Passing TD-INT ratio while also adding 703 yards and 12 TDs on the ground. Schlee flashed that potential in the brief appearances he had last season.
Prediction: Washington 38, Kent State 17
The Huskies opened as 22.5-point favorites over the Golden Flashes. There’s definitely a lot of motivation and pressure on the Washington staff and players to not have a season-opening clunker happen again. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Kent State hand around for half the game before the talent and depth of UW becomes an advantage. Ultimately, Penix and the Huskies’ offense will make more than enough plays to secure the home win.
How to Watch
Date: Saturday, September 3
Game Time: 7:30 PM PT
Venue: Husky Stadium, Seattle, Washington
TV Channel: Fox Sports 1
Record: Washington (0-0), Kent State (0-0)
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