Once Penix solved the puzzle, there was no slowing the Huskies.
“Once we started seeing what they were doing, we knew that they were going to try to bring different things at us at the beginning of the game, things we might not have seen on film,” Penix said. “But once we started seeing the picture, it was on from there.”
Penix Jr. threw for 450 yards and matched his career high with five touchdown passes, and Washington overwhelmed Boise State in a 56-19 win in the teams' season opener Saturday.
Penix kicked off his final college season and a Heisman Trophy campaign with a terrific passing performance following a couple shaky drives in the opening moments. Penix was 29 of 40 passing and threw touchdowns to four receivers.
After posting the second-most yards passing in the country last year, Penix picked up right where he left off.
“Mike’s just so well versed and he can make little calls and little checks, and go through a progression based on what he sees defensively, finding the guy he needs to pretty quickly,” Washington coach Kalen DeBoer said. “He made those throws and as the game went on more and more.”
Penix threw four of his five touchdowns in the second quarter when the Huskies scored 28 points. He connected with Jalen McMillan on two of his TD passes, and McMillan added a 19-yard touchdown run off a direct snap on the first play of the fourth quarter to give Washington a 42-19 lead.
McMillan finished with eight receptions for 95 yards and touchdowns of 7 and 38 yards. And he completed one pass for 9 yards on a double pass trick play.
Rome Odunze had seven catches for 132 yards and a 5-yard TD catch in the third quarter. Ja’Lynn Polk added three receptions for 101 yards and a score. And tight end Jack Westover had a 20-yard TD catch late in the first half.
“A lot of teams play us differently and we did a good job finding matchups,” DeBoer said.
The five TDs matched Penix’s previous high set during a 2020 game against Ohio State while he was still at Indiana. He finished one TD pass shy of Washington’s school record of six set by Jake Browning during the 2016 season.
The 56 points were the most allowed by Boise State since an overtime win over Nevada in 2007.
“They have explosive playmakers. They have a good offense, they have talent on that side of the ball,” Boise State safety Alexander Teubner said. "But at the end of the day, a lot of those points can be erased if we operate like we know we can.”
Boise State's Taylen Green threw for 244 yards, including a 50-yard screen pass touchdown to Ashton Jeanty early in the second half that pulled the Broncos within 28-19. But Green was intercepted twice and had too many unsuccessful drives to keep up with Washington.
Jeanty finished 102 yards receiving and another 44 yards rushing and a 7-yard TD that gave the Broncos the early lead.
"We have an unbelievable team and we're going to be able to grow into a good team,” Boise State coach Andy Avalos said. “Being able to draw from these experiences today in this first opportunity will be huge for us.”
Boise State was the preseason favorite in the Mountain West, but its secondary was one of the concerns entering the season. Those concerns proved valid, especially in the second quarter.
Washington rolled up 206 total yards, including 180 through the air in the quarter. Penix threw a 7-yard TD to McMillan less than a minute into the quarter and then hit a flurry of big plays to break the game open.
Penix’s final six completions of the second quarter were all for 20 yards or more, including a 38-yard TD strike to McMillan, a 44-yard TD to Polk and a 20-yard TD pass to Westover with 1:27 left in the half.
"We had been studying their defense for a while and we thought we were going to be able to hit some big shots on them just the way that their defensive structure is,” Odunze said.
Boise State: The Broncos' best chance of staying close with Washington was to get the run game going. But Boise State was held to 58 yards rushing in the first half. Leading rusher George Holani sat out part of the first half and finished with 51 yards on 10 carries.
Washington: As great as Penix was through the air, the Huskies will need more balance in the offense as the season progresses. Washington had just 78 yards rushing on 19 carries.
Boise State: The Broncos will host UCF next Saturday in their home opener.
Washington: The Huskies will host Tulsa next Saturday.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll