Friday night games are always difficult to pick. I don’t think they inherently favor favorites or underdogs, nor is there an obvious advantage for the home or road team. The short week simply introduces another variable that can bring more entropy into a game that’s already difficult to predict.
One thing we can say with confidence is that OSU’s defense is not strong. They have shown flashes in run defense and pass defense at times, but rarely against good opponents and never at the same time. Most recently, they have put up respectable numbers against the run versus Arizona and Cal, but the Cats still scored 38 and Cal’s offense has gone completely off track without Chase Garbers. As feeble as the Beaver defense has been, their offense has been nearly as good. Their two talented running backs have them 2nd in the conference in yards per rush, and while they are only 8th in yards per pass attempt, Jake Luton has led them to a 21/2 TD/INT ratio. They can score in multiple ways.
Interestingly, the recent matchups have seen the Huskies put up points against elite defenses, but give too many back on the other end. The Beavers present the opposite problem. Jacob Eason has struggled under pressure, but should have more time against OSU than he did against either Oregon or Utah. Likewise, the emerging young receiving corps should have more room to operate, and Salvon Ahmed should get more than 14 touches in a game that should be more manageable from a coaching standpoint. Losing by four and five to top-10 teams doesn’t mean the Huskies are bad. I am much more concerned about this game than I was at the start of the year, but it should ultimately be a chance for the Dawgs to get right.
Washington- 38, Oregon State- 27
49-0 babeeeee. No just kidding.
But in all seriousness, this seems like both a potential trap game _and_ a game for the Dawgs to rebound like crazy on. After all, they did just lose by four points and five points to two good defensive teams who are both in the top ten in the country. While OSU has a legitimately good offense, their defense is, shall we say, lacking. Sure, the transitive property doesn’t work in football, but if you’re scoring 31 points against Oregon and 28 against Utah -- scores that in an average CFB game would be middling but against those two opponents are far better than sucky -- you’re probably gonna be putting up at least 40-something against the Beavs.
I imagine OSU’s offense will be able to put up a decent amount of points, but their defense combined with UW’s talent advantage should win out barring a situation where the Dawgs are so in their own head after the last two games that they can’t function.
Let’s go with:
Washington- 45, Oregon State- 28
I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say this has the potential to be a high scoring affair. The over/under in this game is 65, which seems appropriate if you’re just going off of both teams’ points per game averages. Oregon State QB Jake Luton is having a great season, throwing for 19 touchdowns and just one interception, but with a roughly 61% completion percentage. Oregon State’s rushing attack might actually be more of a concern for Husky fans, as the Beavs have two very talented RBs in their backfield. Between Artavis Pierce and Jermar Jefferson, they have rushed for 1,097 yards on 189 carries for a combined average of 5.8 yards per carry. Not that we should be ignoring WR Isaiah Hodgins, who at 6’4” already has 895 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns on the season. The Beavs offense is very legit.
As I’m sure has already been addressed by someone else in this prediction, it’s Oregon State’s defense that is their weakest link. While they’ve improved significantly from last season when they were last or near last in the nation in a ton of defensive statistical categories, they’re still surrendering an average of 32.4 points per game. Twice this season they’ve given up 52 points in a game. First to Oklahoma State, then again to Utah. Oregon State has some capable linebackers, who are the strength of their defense, but Jacob Eason should have a great opportunity to throw all over the field against their secondary.
Both of these teams’ offenses are good. However, despite taking some lumps this season, Washington’s defense is still significantly better than Oregon State’s. The Beavs will certainly score some points against the Dawgs, but Washington’s defense should be able to stop enough drives to stay comfortably ahead in this matchup. Washington wins in Corvallis.
Washington- 45, Oregon State- 28.
If you read my offense preview, you might think Oregon State’s attack is unstoppable. While they have playmakers and can score, the truth is that the Beavers are still a fringe bowl team with a very questionable defense. They are, however, confident and looking to extend their win steak to three games in a Friday night spot, while Washington are losers of two in a row. The momentum would certainly favor Jonathan Smith’s squad.
No doubt the Dawgs are hungry and see blood in the water - they have beaten Oregon State 7 times in a row, nearly all of them blowouts. Despite the disappointing nature of the Oregon and Utah losses, this team has taken steps forward offensively. There are still plenty of maddening series but the younger receivers are getting involved and they’ve managed to score 28 and 31 against two of the best defenses in the conference. The concern has shifted to the defense, where one week they can’t stop the run, and the next they can’t stop the pass. Oregon State is extremely balanced on offense so the Huskies will need to create negative plays somehow. They never turn the ball over and they can dink and dunk all the way up the field so the Huskies will have to win the big 3rd downs, something they have struggled with this year. WR Isaiah Hodgins and TE Noah Togiai are consistent and reliable options that can get open on 3rd downs. Not to mention RB Jermar Jefferson is more than capable of picking up first downs.
On offense, the Huskies should be able to find success. While the Beavers create a ton of negative plays with tackles for loss and sacks, they miss a lot of open field tackles and give up a lot of big plays. They are a classic boom or bust defense, but, they can put an offense off schedule with the havoc they can create. Despite this havoc, they are one of the worst in the country at generating turnovers. The recipe here for the Huskies is to feed the playmakers: Salvon Ahmed and Hunter Bryant in particular. They will explode for big plays and touchdowns against this defense if given the requisite opportunities. The coaches will have to remain patient - if the Beavers are creating negative plays and coaches panic, that would play right into Oregon State’s hands.
While this game can be close, Oregon State just doesn’t have the defense and overall talent level to beat a pissed off and hungry Husky squad. Terrell Bynum catches his first career TD and Jacob Eason throws for over 300 yards against a porous secondary. Dawgs win.
Washington- 38, Oregon State- 24
I can’t say that I love the spot the Huskies are in right now. They’ll have to compete with a couple of trends. The Utah-USC example is the big one that I can think of for this year but there are a number of times over the past several years where the road favorite in a Friday night tilt gets tripped up. It should help a little that the trip to Corvallis is relatively painless but nonetheless it concerns me. I also wouldn’t discount the idea that Washington may struggle a week after playing a physical Utah team, especially with only 6 days to recover.
I may have concerns about areas that are impossible to measure but comparing the two teams this is still a game the Huskies should win. Oregon State has a very good offense but it is still limited in several ways. Isaiah Hodgins is uncoverable and you can bet he’ll convert several maddening 3rd and longs especially if they’re able to scheme him onto some of UW’s shorter corners. But the Beavers are just 114th nationally in explosive play rate from their passing game. Jake Luton has thrown just 1 interception this season and he will mostly dink and dunk his way down the field.
The bigger issue is the OSU running game which is back to full strength after missing stud Jermar Jefferson for much of the year. The Beavers are 17th nationally in success rate on offense while the Huskies are 94th in that same category on defense. If OSU can stay patient they should have plenty of success with their running game (he says for the 10th time this season...)
Luckily, the Huskies also get to have some turns with the ball in their possession and that’s where the fun begins. This is a very bad Oregon State defense particularly against the pass. They have had success getting sacks which is not great considering Jacob Eason’s stats when facing pressure. But when they don’t get to the quarterback they often give up a big play. They’re 110th in opposing explosive play rate. It’s extremely unfortunate the Huskies don’t have Puka Nacua for this one as he would seemingly have been good for at least one long TD but Hunter Bryant may have another huge day.
From a talent standpoint it’s clear that Washington is the better team even if they’re in a down year and Oregon State is on the rise. If the Huskies lose this game it will be because they’ve fallen apart at the seams mentally following two come from ahead home losses to top-ten opponents. But the fact that they were able to accumulate those leads against teams much better than Oregon State in the first place gives me confidence that they’ll get the job done even if this team is a tier below where many expected them to be at this point in the season.
Washington- 35, Oregon State- 31
THE FINAL TALLY
Straight Up: Washington- 5, Oregon State- 0
Against the Spread (UW -10): Washington- 4, Oregon State- 1
Average Score: Washington- 40.2, Oregon State- 27.6