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Commentary: Can No. 8 Huskies be stopped? Nobody has come close yet.

Washington’s Edefuan Ulofoshio returns an interception for a touchdown against California on Saturday in Seattle.  (Tribune News Service)
By Matt Calkins Seattle Times

Nobody is saying any of the teams they’ve lined up against are ever going to crack the AP Top 25 or get a vote.

In fact, at this point, it’s hard to say whether any of the teams they’ve played will even affect who gets a vote.

Boise State, Tulsa, Michigan State and, most recently, Cal all have the look of also-rans who can’t go toe-to-toe with the top tier. But that doesn’t mean one should downplay what these Huskies – particularly on the offensive end – have achieved four games into the season.

Washington’s “O” has gone beyond the most entertaining on the West Coast and moved toward the best in the country. It entered Saturday’s 59-32 win over Cal second in total offense at 614.7 yards per game, first in passing offense at 493.3 ypg and eighth in scoring offense (46.7) – then proceeded to take a 52-12 lead 31/2 minutes into the third quarter.

It didn’t hurt that UW went up 14-0 before the offense ever took the field thanks to a 45-yard pick-six by Edefuan Ulofoshio on Cal’s first possession, followed by an 83-yard punt return by Rome Odunze 3 minutes later. But once the tried-and-true chain movers stepped between the lines, they gave the 69,107 fans just what they came to see.

Starting from his own 27, Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. needed eight plays to find the end zone midway through the first quarter. The touchdown pass came via a spectacular haul from receiver Ja’Lynn Polk, who reached over cornerback Jeremy Earby’s head to hit pay dirt.

The pass and catch encapsulated what makes Washington’s offense so potent. Yes, Penix is one of the most lethal QBs in the country, coming off a season in which he led the nation in passing yards per game. But he also has a quartet of receivers who turn 50-50 balls into a two-headed coin.

Polk, Odunze, Germie Bernard and the sidelined Jalen McMillan (whose absence had zero effect on the Huskies’ productivity) all seem as if they have magnetic hands when trying to reel the ball in traffic.

“They (the receivers) make my job easier. I just sit back there and throw the ball,” Penix said.

Not that Penix has to rely on their prowess.

Sometimes – most of the time, as a matter of fact – the Heisman candidate guides the ball into their hands in perfect stride.

Penix’s 24-yard TD to Polk that put the Huskies up 38-12 toward the end of the second quarter was one example. His 35-yard toss to Odunze 3 minutes later was another.

By night’s end, Penix finished 19 of 25 with 304 yards and four touchdowns against one interception. Polk finished with 127 yards on eight catches and Odunze with 125 yards on five catches.

Fun fact for you: Before this season, the Huskies had two receivers finish with 100 receiving yards in the same game eight times in school history. They’ve had at least two receivers with 100 yards in all four games this season.

Yes, at some point, the Huskies are going to have to prove themselves against a ranked opponent. In the next several weeks, Penix and Co. are going to have to show they can have their way against Oregon and USC.

Actually, based on what we saw last year, they’ve already demonstrated that capacity. Perhaps the bigger question is whether they can run the ball or “D” up. Well, we’re seeing signs.

For the second straight week, Huskies top running back, Dillon Johnson, was effective moving the ball. He finished with 66 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown vs. Cal after piling up 71 yards on eight carries vs. Michigan State.

As for the once questionable pass defense? Well, it’s still questionable. But it did manage to intercept Bears quarterback three times on Saturday while limiting the Cal starters to 12 points.

One can go ahead and question the No. 8 -ranked Huskies’ quality of opponents all you want. It’s a fair point to bring up. But the fact is they’ve gotten whatever they wanted against whoever they’ve played – including two Power Five foes.

Perhaps many of these strength-of-schedule caveats will persist through next week, when the Huskies take on unranked Arizona in Tucson.

But a third of the way into the regular season, the city of Seattle seems the best offense in college football, and one of the more dangerous teams.

Do you feel you have the best offense in the country? Huskies coach Kalen DeBoer was asked.

“To me, it’s not about that. We’re confident about this thing. We go out there and expect to score every drive,” he said.

One more question: Can the Huskies be stopped? Maybe so. Nobody who’s shared the field with them has made that case yet, though.