Why CFB insider Bruce Feldman thinks UW Huskies will beat Texas

Dec 22, 2023, 2:47 PM

UW Huskies Michael Penix Jr. Kalen DeBoer...

UW Huskies QB Michael Penix Jr. celebrates with coach Kalen DeBoer after a win over Utah. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The UW Huskies are in the midst of a legendary season as they are Pac-12 champs and a perfect 13-0 on the season. Next up? A College Football Semifinal matchup with Texas in the Sugar Bowl.

UW Huskies notes: Winning the Joe Moore, Penix’s ‘catchable’ passes

College football insider Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports and The Athletic joined Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob on Thursday and shared his thoughts on the matchup and the Huskies.

“I thought they were going to be really good,” Feldman said of his preseason expectation for Washington. “I actually thought USC was going to be the team coming out of the Pac-12. I thought their defense would be better … In the end, you looked at it and it was like USC was falling apart, and I think for a lot of folks who thought Oregon was the better team, every time it mattered, Washington proved otherwise.”

A big part of Washington’s success has been head coach Kalen DeBoer, who has guided the Huskies to a perfect record this year and is 24-2 at UW in two seasons.

“We had this question on our podcast the other day about like, where would you rank Kalen DeBoer among the top coaches in college football? And I think right now based on what he’s done, not just at Washington, but in his career, I mean, he’s got to be near the top-five in coaches,” Feldman said. “And depending on what happens over the next month, he probably will be even maybe a little higher than that because what he’s done to take over for for Jimmy Lake has been really remarkable.”

Close game success

The Huskies have a perfect record, but it hasn’t come easy.

Washington won each of its last nine games by 10 points or fewer, with seven coming by one score.

While some may look at that as a potential flaw, Feldman says opposing coaches he spoke to for a profile about the UW Huskies think that’s a strength of the team.

“That is something that a lot of coaches I spoke to last week really were impressed by,” Feldman said. “… If you look at what the Huskies have done really in the two years that Kalen DeBoer and that staff have been there, there’s a lot of resolve. And (the coaches I talked to) just said that this team really knows how to win and keeps grinding and has a tremendous amount of belief not just in themselves, but in each other.”

The Huskies haven’t trailed much this year, but if they do fall behind against Texas, Feldman doesn’t expect them to panic.

“Because they feel like they’ve always found ways to win. And I think that’s something where for most people who don’t know much about Kalen DeBoer, I think the biggest thing is you see his record against top-25 teams, you see his record in close games, I don’t think there’s anything fluky about it,” he said. “I think that’s a big chip to have in Washington’s pocket.”

UW’s run game vs Texas’ run defense

The Huskies are known for their passing attack with quarterback Michael Penix Jr. running the show, but they’ve found plenty of success on the ground with Dillon Johnson running the ball.

“The last month, they got really rolling, they became a lot more balanced. And I think that could be a big difference maker for them, I really do,” Feldman said. “Because this is a guy (in Johnson) who ran well in the SEC and he ran really hard down the stretch. It’s almost like the more banged up he got, the better he seemed, the more tougher he ran. And I think he’s a really good complement (to the rest of their offense).”

The Huskies go up against a Texas team that is among the nation’s best in stopping the run. They allowed 61 yards combined to Oklahoma State and Kansas State, two run-heavy Big 12 teams.

“Other teams in the Big 12 tried to run and had no success.What’s that going to be like for the Huskies? I think that is the X-factor here,” Feldman said.. “If they can get the run going, that just opens things up for more for the pass game. We know that they’re really good formationally, they’re really good with some of the stuff they do to keep people off balance.”

Feldman is looking forward to seeing how UW’s offense under coordinator Ryan Grubb operates against Texas defensive play-caller Pete Kwiatkowski, who is a former Washington defensive coordinator.

“I’m interested to see what kind of game plan Ryan Grubb has for a really good defensive coordinator (in Kwiatkowski) who a lot of people around there know. I’m interested to see that chess match,” Feldman said.

How good is UW?

Undefeated record aside, how good are the UW Huskies and how good of a chance do they have not just to beat Texas, but win the national championship?

“I think it’s very legit. I mean, you’ve got three elite receivers, a quarterback who is very talented and puts up big stats by taking shots downfield and you have a really outstanding coach, and I think you do have like two good edge rushers that can cause problems,” Feldman said. “I mean, they have a puncher’s chance to win it all. If you asked me right now, I don’t know if I would say that they would be the team I’d pick to win it all, but also full disclosure, I picked them to lose the Pac-12 title game and they proved me and everybody else wrong.”

Who wins the Sugar Bowl and the national championship?

Feldman’s preseason pick to win it all was Michigan, who is the No. 1 seed in the four-team bracket and is also 13-0 like the Huskies. He’s still riding with the Wolverines.

“I know that they’ve had some rocky moments, but I still think that team that had all these guys come back, I think they are really physical, they’re really deep and ultimately are the team I think will still win,” Feldman said. “I mean, it wouldn’t surprise if any of the other three teams win, but I took them early on, so I may as well just write it out.”

So who will Michigan beat in the national championship game?

“I think they beat Washington. I think Washington will get through there and get through Texas,” Feldman said. ” … I’ve been so kind of wowed by Michael Penix for the last two years. And I think he’s riding on something where you see this guy who has again, I just think the throws he makes like there’s a ton of belief there. So I think they will find a way to win that game.”

Listen to Wyman and Bob’s full interview with Bruce Feldman at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

More on the UW Huskies

• Damon Huard: UW Huskies’ Michael Penix ‘is ready for the NFL’
• Chris Petersen’s keys to a UW Huskies win over Texas in CFP
• 247Sports’ Huffman: Where UW Huskies’ 2024 recruiting class stands
• Brock & Damon’s Playoff Preview: Greg McElroy on how UW and Texas compare
• Kalen DeBoer is AP coach of the year after leading UW Huskies to CFP

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