Oregon State is lead by RB Damien Martinez who has run for 1,024 yards and 7 TDs on 155 carries (6.6 YPC) this season. He’s a load to bring down at 6-0 and 232 pounds, especially when he gets a head of steam and a little momentum. As a player, he’s a one-cut-and-go type of runner, who is excellent and finding the hole and getting upfield in a hurry. His backup is the equally large Deshaun Fenwick who is 6-2 and 222 pounds and is a similar power back with great vision. He’s taken 86 carries for 497 yards and 7 TDs this season, and the two of them power a run game that’s currently top 10 in FBS at 5.4 yards per rush. Alongside Oregon’s RB Bucky Irving, Martinez is the best running back UW will face this year.
At quarterback, DJ Uiagalelei has elevated his game since transferring in from Clemson. Notably, he has gotten much better as the season has wore on - in his first five games, he had 8 TDs and 4 interceptions. In his past five, he’s thrown for 12 TDs and no picks. He doesn’t have incredible accuracy, completing just 58% of his passes but his 9.1 yards per attempt (for comparison Penix has 9.7) shows he can move the ball through the air. At 6-4 and 252 pounds he’s an exceptionally physical player who isn’t afraid to take hits as he throws and lower his shoulder when he runs. He can sometimes sail balls and lack touch, but his overall arm talent is elite and he can put the ball anywhere on the field - per PFF, he has 22 big time throws this season, which is top-10 in FBS.
At receiver, they primarily utilize Silas Bolden and Anthony Gould, both small and fast receivers standing at just 5-8. Gould averages over 18 yards per catch and can make people miss. He’s both quick and fast, and has become a much better all around receiver this year after being more of a gadget player in the past. Bolden has mostly been a kick and punt returner in his Oregon State career and like Gould has molded his game to become a better all around player. He’s second on the team in receiving TDs (4), and yards (598, just one shy of Gould), and first in receptions (42). His 10 forced missed tackles (per PFF) rank first on the team.
Lastly, there is TE Jack Velling, from Seattle Prep High School. The 6-4 sophomore is having an excellent season and broke the Oregon State record for receiving TDs by a tight end with 8 so far on the year, which leads the team. In total he has 27 receptions for 418 yards, which both rank third on the team become Gould and Bolden. He’s very much a chain mover with 22 catches going for first downs this year.
This is one of the better offensive lines that UW will face this season and they are led by RT Taliese Fuaga. They are not only physical and powerful run blockers, but strong in pass protection and have only allowed 10 sacks on Uiagalelei.
While Oregon State is relatively balanced, with about 55/45 run/pass split, they are certainly a “run first” team. You will see lots of toss sweeps and stretch runs off tackle to take advantage of Martinez’s skill set as a runner. Their excellent offensive line and zone blocking scheme is perfect for both Martinez and Fenwick to find a crease, plant their feet, and accelerate through the hole. They will call Uiagalelei’s number on designed runs to take advantage of his 252 pound frame and he’s carried 55 times for 6 touchdowns this year. Like the running backs, he’s a load to bring down.
As you might expect with such a strong run game, they utilize play action on about 40% of pass plays. The only Pac-12 teams with a higher percentage that UW has faced are Oregon and USC, but so much of that is because of their RPO game. Oregon State runs “true” play action passes off their physical run game.
I expect Jonathan Smith and Oregon State will try to slow this game down as much as possible to bleed clock and minimize possessions for the Washington offense. Oregon State has arguably the best run game in the Pac-12 and one of the best in the country, so they should have some success there. DJ Uiagalelei does not fare incredibly well against pressure - few quarterbacks do - and the receivers don’t make a ton of contested catches, so getting in his face and playing press coverage against their fast and diminutive receiving corps will be a key for the Washington defense.
OSU is also excellent at home and have won 16 of their past 17 at Reeser Stadium. Considering this might the last time these two teams play for a long time, expect the atmosphere to be electric for a top-10 matchup.