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Looking Ahead To Oregon

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The Mighty Ducks arrive in Seattle this weekend with a Pac 10 championship on their mind. Oregon has been playing the best football in the conference over the past month, including Southern California. What has been getting it done for the Ducks most part isn't the always potent offense, but a surprisingly stingy defense. They shut down and dominated one of the nation's top offenses in the Cal Bears, and beat UCLA with a blend of great defense and special teams play. It seems the Ducks are putting it all together at the right time this season.

The big question this week is who is going to start for Oregon at QB? Will it be Nate Costa, who did a decent job directing the offense against UCLA, or Jeremiah Masoli, who is trying to return from a sprained MCL?  Masoli practiced last week and seemed to become more mobile every day.

If it is indeed Masoli, he will not be the same mobile QB who led the Ducks to a 4-1 record before being injured. His knee still is unstable, so expect him to wear a brace and run only when necessary, as it takes up to six weeks for a sprained MCL to heal completely.  Costa, a veteran of several knee surgeries himself, is the more mobile of the two at this point. As is the Oregon custom, we won't know who will start until kickoff. Kelly wants UW to prepare for both QB's.

Running back LeGarrette Blount won't be suiting up, but the Ducks have found someone maybe even more dangerous in LaMichael James. Washington must keep James in check to have any chance of winning Saturday's game.

Taking a quick look at that Oregon defense, the Ducks are the only FBS team with the highest scoring offense (39.3 points) and lowest scoring defense (6.3) in its conference, though those averages were compiled against Cal, WSU, and UCLA. The Ducks have put together 16 scoring drives of 40 or more yards against league competition. Their opponents have one - and it took a 52-yard field goal by UCLA's Kai Forbath to get that one.

In these three conference games, the Ducks have yet to give up an honest touchdown drive. Now having outscored California, Washington State and UCLA by a combined 118-19 score, the two opponents' touchdowns have come on drives totaling one yard.

The loss of CB's Walter Thurmond and Willie Glasper is a concern. However, Anthony Gildon and Cliff Harris have filled in well against WSU and UCLA. This week the challenge is much greater because they are going up against a QB on the road who can really hurt them in Jake Locker.

Oregon will probably throw a defensive game plan at Washington allowing Jake Locker to throw underneath and keep the ball in front of the young Oregon DB's. Expect some pressure and blitzing from the Ducks, who obviously will watch last Saturday's game film and realize Locker didn't handle it well against ASU.

Special teams is another way the Ducks have won games this season. They broke apart a close UCLA contest with excellent plays on defense and special teams. The Ducks have scored five non offensive touchdowns so far this season. Washington has been attrocious special teams wise the last couple of weeks. They need to get that handled or they simply won't beat the Ducks.

Husky fans are beside themselves this week about the lost opportunity in Tempe. I have heard considerable comments that Washington will only win one more game this season, that being against WSU. The fans forget that this team has been in every single game this season. In six of those games the Huskies either won or had a very good chance of winning late in the fourth quarter. This team isn't going to quit on themselves. They are going to play hard every single week and continue to battle to the end of games.

This weeks game against Oregon isn't any different. The Ducks are a good team but so were USC, LSU, Notre Dame, and Arizona. All the aforementioned teams are capable of beating the Ducks. So if they are capable Washington is certainly capable. There isn't a single game left on the schedule that Washington is not capable of winning.

So keep your heads up Husky fans!

Game Notes

Oregon’s win last season was its fifth in a row over Washington, its longest win streak in a series that started in 1900. The Ducks have outscored the Huskies 209-85 during the streak.

The Ducks sit atop the Pac-10 standings as the conference's only unbeaten team in league play.

Washington has utilized a total of 10 true freshmen this season as TB Demitrius Bronson, DE Talia Crichton, S Nate Fellner, CB Anthony Gobern, WR James Johnson, DE Andru Pulu, TB Cole Sager, DT Semisi Tokolahi, CB Desmond Trufant and LB Jordan Wallace have all seen action this year. Among that group, Crichton, Johnson, Trufant and Fellner have all started at least one game.

The Washington-Oregon game will air live to a regional audience on ABC.

Washington has a 58-38-5 edge in the overall series.

Oregon has won 10 of the last 14.

The Huskies have a 31-18-4 advantage against Oregon at home.