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Original members, Pac-12 foes meet as No. 8 Washington hosts California

Teams will head to separate conferences next season

Washington players celebrate Saturday
Washington players celebrate Saturday (AP)

SEATTLE — No. 8 Washington (3-0) will host California (2-1), at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23 at Husky Stadium.

Series record: Washington leads 56-41-4. 

What’s at stake?

Since the creation of the Pacific Coast Conference more than 100 years ago, Washington and California have always been members of the same conference. That will come to an end next year with Washington headed to the Big Ten and Cal to the ACC, which brings a little wistful sadness to the Pac-12 opener between the schools. Washington is flying behind quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and an offense that has yet to even be slowed down, rolling up 713 yards last week against Michigan State. But Cal has been a troublesome opponent for the Huskies in recent years and the teams have split their last four meetings.

Key matchup

Can Cal coach Justin Wilcox create a defensive plan that comes close to slowing down Washington’s offense? Wilcox has done it in the past to the Huskies, coming up with defensive game plans that have flustered Washington. In 2018, the Huskies lost 12-10 at Cal and the following year lost 20-19 in Seattle. But this Washington offense is a different beast. Rome Odunze, Ja’Lynn Polk and Jalen McMillan are the best trio of wide receivers in the country and the Huskies got their run game going last week with 177 yards against Michigan State.

Players to watch

California: RB Jaydn Ott. Ott sat out last week against Idaho due to injury but it was a wise call as he’ll need to have a big game if the Golden Bears have a chance at the upset. In the two games he’s played, Ott is averaging 6.7 yards per carry, although the yards were a little tougher to come by in the loss to Auburn when he was held to 78 yards on 20 carries. Washington’s rush defense is ninth in the conference so far.

Washington: TE Jack Westover. The other guy in Washington’s passing attack had a big game against Michigan State with three touchdowns on four pass receptions. Westover had TDs of 5, 13 and 7 yards, giving him four TDs on 10 catches so far this season. Westover had two career TD catches entering the year, but is an important option in the middle of the field for Penix.

Facts and figures

Washington hasn’t scored 40 or more points in four straight games in the same season since 1944 when the Huskies beat Whitman and Willamette twice each. … Cal is tied for the national lead with 10 turnovers forced through three games. … Washington’s first three wins were all by more than 30 points. The last time the Huskies beat three straight FBS schools by 30 or more was 1991. … Cal WR Taj Davis, who played previously at Washington, has eight catches for 81 yards and one touchdown on the season.

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