Andrew Berg (5-0 SU, 1-4 ATS)
I argued on this week’s All We Hear Is Purple that there are several Oregon characteristics that worry me as a Husky fan. The offenses that have succeeded against the Ducks are the ones that have committed to the run and remained happy with 4-5 yard gains. Bo Nix has had all the time in the world and opposing secondaries have had to make big plays to disrupt the offense. These are not the Huskies’ strengths, nor is it the way they prefer to play.
But in the biggest UW game in years, I’m trusting Penix, trusting DeBoer, and trusting the Husky Stadium crowd.
Washington 38 - Oregon 37
Mark Schafer (5-0 SU, 3-2 ATS)
It is once again Oregon week! This is a game I dread every year because of trauma from the early 2000s. But, I think the Dawgs have a decent shot at a win, and here’s why:
First up, we favor the pass, and for good reason. With an All World quarterback, and 3 future pro wide receivers, we’re more poised for big plays in the pass game. This much is obvious. Secondly, if we are to win, we must be more disciplined and tackle better than the Arizona game, because they have the guys to run all over us (Bucky Irving especially could wreck the defense). It is imperative that the defense frustrates Bo Nix because, like Michael Penix, his athletic ability and decision making could lead to big plays for Oregon.
Lastly, we’ve seen Kalen Deboer and co. outcoach Dan Lanning before, and Lanning has developed a bit of a reputation as a gambler, often losing. We’ll see if he makes mistakes, and if the Huskies can capitalize on those mistakes.
As an analyst I predict a close victory, but as a fan, I’m going to quote Mr. T from Rocky 3 when his character (Clubber Lang) is asked for a prediction before the first fight with Rocky Balboa.
Washington- 42, Oregon- 31
Gabey Lucas (4-0 SU, 1-3 ATS)
I can’t dive in that deep since I have a lot of other crap going on right now, but my gut is that ironically the fact that Oregon is a way better offense than Arizona will hurt them somewhat. That is, they are incentivized by their own strengths to do the exact opposite of the most successful formula to slow down Washington’s offense since they too are a pretty dang good offense. My gut though is that, just comparing the overall offenses, UW has a slight edge.
Then of course comes the thought that Oregon could in theory do what Arizona did at least scheme-wise, if not time management-wise, to help neutralize Washington’s offense as much as possible with just clogging up mid-deep lanes. Except then comes the fact that it doesn’t feel like Oregon’s secondary could do that consistently successfully against Rome, JMac, and Polk for the whole game.
But of course none of this matters because it’s Oregon, dammit, and it’s one of the best Oregon teams of the last while, dammit, and any logic that might point to Washington freaks me out.
Regardless, I don’t think either team will slow things down (certainly Washington won’t) because they’re both so offensively focused and want to maximize possessions, so I think the scores will end up decently high.
Washington- 42, Oregon- 38
Max Vrooman (5-0 SU, 2-3 ATS)
And so we have arrived at what is almost certainly the most important first half of the season game for Washington since they hosted a top-ten Stanford team in 2016. That game on a perfectly beautiful late September day resulted in an obliteration of the Cardinal. I’m not expecting that result this time around. But this is close to a must-have if Washington wants to achieve its goals of both making the Pac-12 Championship Game and then going on to the College Football Playoff.
Moving forward, I’ll post these for all conferences on Tuesday mornings. But I’m too excited to wait this week!— Kelley Ford (@KFordRatings) October 9, 2023
Just how big is Oregon at Washington this Saturday? Chances to reach the Pac-12 Championship Game with a win:
And with a loss:
40% UW pic.twitter.com/6M7cROmTkF
Last year we saw Kalen DeBoer and Dan Lanning take opposite approaches. The Huskies were the underdog playing on the road and yet DeBoer was relatively conservative, kicking several short field goals. Lanning meanwhile coached aggressively as he did all last season to try to put his foot at Washington’s throat. The Ducks failed on a surprise onside kick and also on a late 4th down attempt in their own territory of a tie game. That, plus a fumble just outside the end zone, was enough to secure a victory for Washington.
This year’s Oregon team is much like last year’s except with perhaps even more talent thanks to a transfer portal remodel. Under new offensive coordinator Will Stein, Oregon’s offense has been relentlessly efficient. The run game for the Ducks is devastating despite losing Noah Whittington for the season. Both Bucky Irving and Jordon James are averaging better than 8 yards per carry. QB Bo Nix is putting up 8.8 yards per attempt in a passing game that is largely dink and dunk to set up occasional deep shots. Nearly 2/3rd of Oregon’s pass attempts come within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage.
All of that comes down to how well the Washington defense can take on blocks and tackle. Oregon will almost certainly go for it on every 4th and 2 or shorter. Can Washington actually slow down Oregon’s running backs and short passes enough that they stay behind schedule leading to punts? Call me skeptical. Especially with DL Tuli Letuligasenoa questionable. If Washington wants to win this game then DL Ulumoo Ale will need to have the game of his life taking on double teams while the linebackers and corners keep from missing tackles.
I haven’t spent any time talking about UW’s offense against Oregon’s defense because I’m not overly worried about that side. The Ducks have the most talented D the Huskies have played so far this year and they will get some stops. But if Odunze, McMillan, and Buelow are all healthy as stated by the coaching staff then the Husky offense will put up 30+ points on everyone. And that would be 40+ points except that Oregon’s offense, like Arizona’s, will move the ball 5-8 yards at a time and chew up a lot of clock to limit possessions.
My great hope is that Husky Stadium once again becomes one of the most fearsome places to play in the country. If it is ever going to come back, it should be for this game. I just don’t think it will quite be enough. Oregon gets narrow revenge as the Ducks again run for 300+ yards.
Washington- 34, Oregon- 37
THE FINAL TALLY
Straight Up: Washington- 3, Oregon- 1
Against the Spread (UW-3): Washington- 2, Oregon- 2
Average Score: Washington- 39.0, Oregon- 35.7