Washington has faced two nationally ranked programs this year and were outscored 116 to 59. This week they face off against the 8th ranked Oregon Ducks. Chances are pretty good that Oregon will score 40-50 points on Washington and win the game by two to three touchdowns.
I hate to admit it but the Ducks are better than the Huskies even though the gap is starting to close (of course we said the same thing four years ago). Oregon has the best speed in the Pac 12 and the only way you slow them down is by playing them with discipline and clubbing them at the line of scrimmage.
The great thing about college football is that favorites don't win every week and upsets do happen. Oregon was visibly lethargic against WSU last week. They looked very beatable. Were they looking ahead to Washington or was it Stanford and USC that was on their minds?
It is a given that Oregon is going to be able to move the ball. Washington needs to take away the big plays and turn those seven's into three's. The Huskies also need to pick up a bunch of turnovers. I think the magic number would be plus three or four. If the Husky defense can accomplish those two things they are going to be able to give our offense the chance at winning the game.
Folks say that Oregon's defense isn't as good as last season and I buy into that to a certain extent. That being said they are only giving up 21 points and 397 yards per game. That tells me that most of those yards come between the 20's and that the Ducks tighten considerably in the red zone.
If you want to be able to score in the red zone you need a punishing running back (Polk) and a great tight ends (ASJ/Hartvigson). It also doesn't hurt to have a mobile QB (Price) who is among the nation leaders in TD passes and overall accuracy.
Chris Polk can be a big factor in this game. Oregon gives up over 150 rushing yards per game so they are vulnerable. Chris is probably the best back they will face outside of practice this season. Polk is physical force and it wouldn't surprise me to see him pick up close to 200 yards in what will be his last game in Husky Stadium.
Don't forget that Polk has become a lethal receiver this season. When he catches a ball behind a linebacker he can do a lot of damage. Speaking of catching the ball the re-emergence of the tight end position at Washington has been one of the years biggest stories. Austin-Seferian Jenkins and Mike Hartvigson give Washington an imposing and lethal combination at the goal line.
Jermaine Kearse needs to bring his "A" game for his Husky Stadium finale. He needs to be a big play rather than a series ender on third down. You are also going to see a lot more of Kasen Williams and Kevin Smith this week with James Johnson out of the lineup.
Washington has done a complete 180 in special teams play this season. It shows that the depth and overall talent on the squad has improved. The Huskies need to win this battle. They can't afford to make a single mistake in kick coverage or Oregon is going to turn it into a quick seven points (UO special teams scored 14 points against WSU last weekend).
Oregon is scoring an average of 47.5 points per game. They average 526 yards per game with a whopping 309 yards of it coming on the ground. How did LSU beat Oregon? Their defense took away the thing that they do best which is running the ball.
The Tiger defense held Oregon to only 95 rushing yards in the opener. They put everything on the shoulders of QB Darron Thomas who was 31-54-1-1 for only 240 yards. Can the Washington defense take away the thing that Oregon does best?
Like I said earlier in the week Washington isn't going to win a track meet with the Ducks. Our offense can hang with their offense but the defense needs to play lights out to give the Husky offense a chance to win the football game. I like what I feel in my gut right now and have to go with this risky pick.....Washington 45 Oregon 38.