The back of Michael Penix's jersey.
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How Michael Penix Jr. Can Make Heisman History at Washington

Washington's Michael Penix Jr. is ahead of the pack in the Heisman race, and he could make school and left-handed history.

The preseason favorite to win the Heisman Trophy in 2023 is last year's winner, USC quarterback Caleb Williams. But in the history of the award given to the most outstanding player in all of college football, only one player has won the prestigious award twice, and that was Ohio State running back Archie Griffin in 1974 and 1975.

So, that would raise the question of who has the best odds to beat out Williams, and while there are a handful of players who could be hoisting that trophy in New York in early December, the current favorite to win the trophy and beat Williams plays in the same conference. Enter Michael Penix Jr. of the Washington Huskies.  

Penix began his career with the Indiana Hoosiers and had both highs and lows during his time in Bloomington, Ind., but he transferred to Washington last season to join his former offensive coordinator at Indiana, Kalen DeBoer, who is now the Huskies' head coach. In his first season as the Huskies signal caller, Penix went 11-2, throwing for more than 4,600 yards and 31 touchdowns while completing 65% of his passes and throwing just eight interceptions. The Penix-led 2022 Huskies offense ranked second in the country averaging 515 total yards per game, and seventh in the country in points per game with 39.7.

The Huskies haven't missed a beat in 2023 building off last season's success, leading the country in total yards with nearly 600 yards per game through four games. They're scoring just under 50 points per game and Penix is the main reason for this dominate offense.  

Penix currently leads the country in total passing yards (1,636) — more than 200 more yards better than anyone else. He also sits atop the country in passing touchdowns (16) as well. Not to mention Penix has improved on his accuracy this season, completing 74.6% of his passes.

At this current rate, Penix is on pace to throw for 4,908 yards and 48 touchdowns, which would be more than enough for him to win the Heisman Trophy, and that isn't including the possibility of playing in the Pac-12 title game, a bowl game or semifinal game and/or a potential national title game.  

So, just for fun, let's imagine the Huskies run the table, go undefeated, win the Pac-12, and not only make the College Football Playoff but win the national championship. Penix could throw for over 6,000 yards — which would break the single-season record for passing yards — and could throw for 60 touchdowns, tying Joe Burrow for the second-most passing touchdowns in a season. Add all those numbers in with a conference title and a national championship, and Michael Penix and the Huskies could go down as one of the best offenses and best teams in college football history.  

Penix Could Make Heisman History at Washington

Jake Browning tosses a pass for Washington.

Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Washington, for what it's worth, has never produced a Heisman winner.

While Penix finished eighth in voting last season, he isn't the highest-finishing UW player in Heisman voting history. Back in 1991, Huskies defensive lineman Steve Emtman garnered 357 votes and finished fourth before the Indianapolis Colts made him the 1992 first overall pick.

Even more recently, there was Washington quarterback Jake Browning who finished in sixth place in 2016 after leading the Huskies to a College Football Playoff berth. It was Louisville's Lamar Jackson who took home the hardware that year.

And as far as lefty quarterbacks go, Penix would be the first southpaw passer since Tim Tebow in 2007 to win the award. The only other left-handed signal callers to win the Heisman were USC Matt Leinart in 2004 and Oregon State's Terry Baker in 1962.

As for Penix, this type of season would not only land him the 2023 Heisman Trophy but would put his season and even his career down as one of the best quarterbacks to ever play college football. All Penix has to do is continue throwing the ball like he is and the Heisman Trophy, a Pac-12 title and a potential national title could all be his by season's end.

MORE: Heisman Trophy Frontrunners Heading After Week 4