We all circled this game on the calendar coming into the year. The early schedule looked favorable and it wasn’t hard to imagine UW entering at 6-2 or 7-1 with a pristine conference record. Of course, the season started about as badly as possible and it has taken UW snatching victory from the jaws of defeat against consecutive lowly opponents to get back to .500.
The Ducks’ offense has rounded into form. The rush offense, led by Travis Dye, has been elite and a foundation for a very good team. Spreading the field and running through the middle has kept them ahead of the chains and allowed them to piece together the sort of long drives that have broken the Huskies’ will multiple times this year. The Huskies have struggled mightily against the run for most of the year. Unless the impressive outings by Carson Bruner, Voi Tunuufi, and Dominique Hampton against Stanford can carry over to a vastly superior opponent, that particular match-up looks like trouble.
The other side of the equation is that Oregon has not been as impressive as its seven wins and victory over Ohio State would imply. Several lesser opponents have tested the Ducks with success in the passing game. UW has shown the ability, albeit inconsistent, to pile up chunks of yardage through the air to talented receivers like Jalen McMillan, Rome Odunze, and Cade Otton. Early in the season, the inhibiting factor was an offensive line that couldn’t give Dylan Morris enough time. Lately, Morris has been seeing ghosts and missing on plays he should make. If we get 60 minutes of the good version of Dylan Morris, the Dawgs can stay in this game. Suffice to say, his recent performances do not give me a high degree of confidence.
Washington- 24, Oregon- 30
There once was a team from down south
That Jimmy Lake dissed with his mouth
Then ensued, tit-for-tat’er
But in the end it didn’t matter
Because UW beats Oregon in triple overtime when the Husky D thwarts a 2-pt conv attempt. And boom goes the dynamite.
Washington- 43, Oregon- 41 (3OT)
Well this is the biggest game of the season for the Huskies. After consecutive wins the Huskies are looking to get above .500 for the first time this season. On paper this looks like a tough matchup for the Huskies with Oregon’s strength being their running game and the Huskies weakness being their run defense. On the flip side the Ducks defense is probably more suspect on the back end.
If the Huskies can win the turnover battle they have a chance, but at the end of the day it’s going to be an uphill battle for the Huskies and they will need to score 27+ points to win this game. The Huskies will also need to be able to stop the run and force Anthony Brown to beat them. Brown can distribute the ball but he’s not an elite passer. Can they stop him and the run game? Unfortunately, I don’t think so.
Washington- 21, Oregon- 34
Regardless of whatever flows out of my fingers as I write up this prediction, I would really like a win on Saturday. It would be immensely helpful for my general well-being. I’m not asking for much, Jimmy.
Or am I? The current forecast for Seattle on Saturday calls for gusts up to 30 MPH and between 0.25 and 0.5 inches of rain throughout the day. To me, those sound like running conditions. Let’s take a quick glance to see how these teams compare when running the ball. Oregon is 7th in EPA per rush on offense and 37th in EPA per rush on defense. Washington is 113th in EPA per rush on defense and 106th in EPA per rush on defense. Ah. Good, good.
Washington’s chance in this game involves them finding a way to force an early turnover or two and convert every reasonable scoring chance into a touchdown rather than settling for field goals. The wind may actually help in that regard as those 3 points will be much less of a guarantee. If somehow the Dawgs are able to put pressure on Oregon’s offense to actually need to throw the ball then between the elements, UW’s pass defense, and Oregon’s lack of faith in Anthony Brown then we might be able to see them turn the corner.
Unfortunately Travis Dye is a really good running back and without Ryan Bowman and Edefuan Ulofoshio plus an unknown number of the starting safeties it’s difficult to envision a world in which Oregon can’t just march it down the field 4+ yards at a time on the ground.
This is an Oregon team that is most certainly not the 4th best in the country. Just about every advanced metric out there thinks they’re closer to 25th than they are to 5th. And if this Washington team had showed any indication that they could at their peak play just like the 25th best team in the country then UW would have a fighting chance at the upset. I just can’t in good conscience go into this game expecting it to happen.
Washington- 17, Oregon- 28
THE FINAL TALLY
Against the Spread (UW +7): Washington- 2, Oregon- 2
Straight Up: Washington- 1, Oregon- 3
Average Score: Washington- 25.3, Oregon- 33.3