Andrew Berg (10-0 SU, 5-4-1 ATS)
The betting line has shifted significantly in Oregon State’s favor since it opened at UW -1. That means that most of the money has come in on the Beavs and Vegas has to make the bet more enticing to those backing Washington to get their money on the table. From a strictly gambling point of view, it would be good to take the Dawgs +2.5 since Vegas initially pegged them as slight favorites, so that even a narrow loss would cash a winning ticket. But as Husky fans interested in the Pac-12 Championship Game and the College Football Playoff, cashing a betting slip would be cold comfort in a losing effort. So will the Dawgs win?
This matchup has looked like a tricky one to me all year. I picked Oregon State when I picked the entire schedule before the season started. I picked Oregon State again when I handicapped the rest of the conference season at the midway point. The reasons are many. First, playing away from the friendly confines of Husky Stadium always introduces an element of uncertainty. Second, this game has been frightfully close over the last three years. The Huskies have a 2-1 advantage (both wins at home), but have outscored OSU only 75-69. It could be 1-2 if not for a fortuitous 4th down spot in the 2020 game. There is no big brother/little brother syndrome here; Jonathan Smith knows how to play with and beat the Huskies.
The on-field match-ups are equally worrisome. Damien Martinez and Deshaun Fenwick are excellent running backs behind an expertly-coached offensive line. They have run the ball effectively all year and UW has not looked good against teams that can control the game on the ground. They are not one-dimensional, either. DJU provides a lethal downfield threat against teams who creep safeties up into the box, albeit with a lower completion percentage. UW’s defense is not going to smother OSU. They must force mistakes- penalties, turnovers, or field goals- to get OSU off the field.
In the other direction, Oregon State defends the pass better than the run, another point in their favor. UW has leaned on Dillon Johnson more of late and will have to do the same against a defensive front that blitzes often and from multiple levels. OSU gets to the QB and forces interceptions. Michael Penix’s ability to play a clean game was crucial against Utah and is absolutely essential this week. If Penix plays to his maximum ability, Oregon State doesn’t have the ability to win one-on-one matchups with Rome Odunze or Ja’Lynn Polk. However, even minor offensive miscues could be a major problem.
Washington- 34, Oregon State- 38
Mark Schafer (10-0 SU, 6-3-1 ATS)
The Gauntlet keeps rolling with a visit to Reser Stadium and Oregon State. This game is going to be a slugfest, with both sides trying to assert their will against the other. Vegas currently likes the Beavers, with their physical quarterback in DJU and two fantastic running backs in DeShaun Fenwick and Damien Martinez. And there is a little bit of concern about facing such a physical defense, which has put the Huskies in the underdog role.
I think this mindset will be good for them and they’ll look to control the game and try to put it away early with the passing game, as we do. If the pass game isn’t there, there’s nobody I’d rather hand the ball to than Dillon Johnson! I’m counting on a close Husky victory led by Michael Penix and the passing game.
Defensively its a different scheme than Utah or USC, with DJU’s big arm and running ability being a threat. They’ll have to be ready and stiffen up their tackling to shut them down.
Overall, I think the Huskies will be prepared for the underdog role, and get a close victory!
Washington- 32, Oregon State- 28
Max Vrooman (9-1 SU, 5-4-1 ATS)
Ever since the schedule first came out, this is the game I was most concerned about. Last year’s game against Oregon State was tight in Husky Stadium and if not for a windstorm causing Jonathan Smith to think twice about short field goals it could have gone the other way very easily. Now that we’re here though...
Football is about blocking and tackling and the Beavers certainly have the blocking part down pat. Oregon State has one of the best offensive lines in the country and every member of the squad has a chance to be at least honorable mention all-conference at season’s end. That has led to a dynamic two-headed monster rushing attack. They’re #1 in the country in rushing success rate behind Damien Martinez (1,024 yds, 6.6 YPC) and Deshaun Fenwick (503 yds, 5.8 YPC). That’s bad news for a Husky team that hasn’t exactly been great slowing down rushing attacks. Expect the Beavers to be able to move the ball at will 6-7 yards at a time on the ground.
The big chance for Oregon State this year is the offense actually has a real quarterback. D.J Uiagelelei still has accuracy concerns after coming over from Clemson but can still complete tough throws downfield. He already has 22 big time throws per PFF which ties his total from last season in 122 fewer attempts. The only two games this season when DJU has fewer than 8.2 YPA are two Oregon State losses so keeping him from hitting big plays through the air will be essential for UW.
Oregon State almost beat Washington last year in part due to an old school UW Death Row style secondary. They held Michael Penix to just 5.7 YPA (although as noted earlier, in a windstorm). That unit hasn’t been the same this year. In Oregon State’s two losses they’ve given up at least 275 passing yards and 3 passing TDs and Cam Ward hit 400+ yards. The weather isn’t expected to be great but Penix will have to have a huge day through the air to outduel OSU’s ground attack.
There have been times that Michael Penix has hunted for the “kill shot” rather than check it down to an open receiver for a smaller gain. Ryan Grubb has to get through to Penix that this week he needs to just keep the chains moving. Oregon State is one of the worst tackling teams in the country missing over 25% of their tackles (for as bad as most fans think UW is, that total is below 20% for the Dawgs). Getting the ball underneath to Germie Bernard or Dillon Johnson and letting them make guys miss is the way to go this week.
Oregon State is a good team. The Huskies could easily be the 5th best team in the country and lose this game. I just have seen too much late game magic from Michael Penix Jr. and this team to think they can’t pull it out if it goes into the final few minutes in a one score game.
Washington- 31, Oregon State- 28
WASHINGTON STATE @ OREGON STATE pic.twitter.com/wjO2Zd3aFK— parker fleming (@statsowar) November 16, 2023
THE FINAL TALLY
Straight Up: Washington- 2, Oregon State- 1
Against the Spread (UW +1.5): Washington- 2, Oregon State- 1
Over/Under (62.5): Over- 1, Under- 2
Average Score: Washington- 32.3, Oregon State- 31.3