Oregon opponent early scouting report: Washington

An early look at Oregon’s opponents for the 2023 regular season.
Game date & time: Husky Stadium, Oct. 14
2022 record: (11-2)
Coach: Kalen DeBoer, second year (90-11 overall)
Returning starters: 7 offense, 8 defense
Most important returning players: QB Michael Penix Jr., RB Cameron Davis, WR Rome Odunze, WR Jalen McMillan, WR Ja’Lynn Polk, DE Bralen Trice, OLB Zion Tupuola-Fetui, LB Alphonzo Tuputala, S Asa Turner
Most critical departures: RB Wayne Taulapapa, DE Jeremiah Martin, LB Cam Bright, S Alex Cook
Oregon storylines:
Win streak at UW
Oregon has won its last two trips to Washington, a thriller in 2019 and a demolition in 2021. Washington won last year’s meeting in Eugene. It’s possible, if not probable, both teams are at least 4-1 or 5-0 entering this game. The stakes will be high regardless, but this could be for the Pac-12 lead.
Nix getting redemption
Nix was briefly knocked out of last year’s game, which swung to Washington amid his absence. Several critical players from last season’s game are gone, including Alex Cook, Bennett Williams and Taj Davis, but Nix and Michael Penix will be a clash of quarterbacks who are each vying for awards and draft positioning.
Defensive play
Washington carved Oregon’s defense apart last season. With each team coming off a bye week, which staff is better prepared and puts their players in better positions to succeed will be critical. Washington’s offensive staff did a better job of that than Oregon’s defensive staff last year.
Taki Taimani returns to Washington
The former Huskies nose tackle makes his first trip back to Seattle.
Washington storylines:
Can Michael Penix best the Ducks secondary again?
Considering the caliber of competition and that it was a road night game, Penix’s performance against Oregon last season might be the best of his career. He feasted on UO’s secondary with the exception of Christian Gonzalez. If Penix can have another banner day against the Ducks he’ll likely be in the Heisman conversation.
Darren Barkins vs. Oregon
The former Ducks cornerback transferred to UW this spring, though he may not be on the two-deep.
An Oregon win would mean:
A likely 3-0 start to league play and with it, no less than a tie for the Pac-12 lead. If UO is 5-1 or 6-0, a move up in the polls with the first CFP rankings only a couple of weeks out.
An Oregon loss would mean:
Back-to-back losses in the rivalry it dominated for the last 20 years. If UO enters at 5-0 a loss wouldn’t be devastating in the big picture, but no matter what it carries implications beyond the standings.

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