No. 23 Washington Huskies vs. No. 2 Oregon Ducks (Preview and Predictions)
Tonight at 7:30 pm the No. 2 Oregon Ducks (5-0) will play host for Pac-12 North and bitter rival No. 23 Washington (3-1) in what could decide the division champion. The Huskies are fresh off of a huge win over Stanford, while the Ducks hope to keep the momentum from a dominant second half against Washington State.
Can the Ducks keep the perfect season going? Find out what the EDN experts thing.
Game MVP: Colt Lyerla
Oregon has looked absolutely unstoppable in their last two games, first in a 49-0 route of then No. 22 Arizona followed by a dominating second half against Washington State. The Ducks’ secondary is lights out, and may have them ready to compete against the big boys of the conference (USC, Oregon State, Stanford). This game should be similar to last week where it’s close at half-time, but a blowout by the end.
I went with Colt Lyerla for MVP last week and was majorly disappointed when he only put up 21 yards and 0 TDs. The reason, though, was that his production wasn’t needed. The Ducks only passed for 169 yards against Washington State, a season low, and spread the ball around. The top-three receivers from the game (Will Murphy, Kenjon Barner, De’Anthony Thomas) each put up 38, 37, and 23 receiving yards that accounted for just over 60% of the yardage. It was another game of receiver-by-committee.
That changes this week when the Ducks are placed in more short-yardage situations and redzone situations. Who better to go to than the man they call Bane? I think Lyerla puts up 50 yards rushing, 75 receiving and totals 2 TDs. Those numbers might not be startling and what you’d consider to be MVP worthy, but with this system they are. With how many carries and receptions will be shared, 125 total yards is not a bad day for a tight end.
Game MVP: Kenjon Barner
Fresh off of their 17-13 upset of Stanford last week, the newly-ranked Washington Huskies have become a trendy upset pick in Saturday night’s game at Oregon. Quite frankly, I don’t see it. The Huskies are 101st in the country in passing yards and 106th in rushing yards. Yes, they boast a talented and effective defense that held Stanford to 235 total yards, but Stanford’s offense is average at best in the athleticism department.
Athletes? Yeah, the Ducks have plenty of those. Kenjon Barner’s 232 yards-from-scrimmage performance last weekend reminded opposing defenses to never forget about the senior running back amidst all the De’Anthony Thomas and Marcus Mariota hype. Don’t forget, the Huskies lost 41-3 at LSU a couple of weeks ago, and that LSU team followed by struggling with Auburn and Towson. Regardless, LSU’s all-around speed and raucous home-crowd environment is the closest thing to the Ducks the Huskies have seen this year, and they did not impress.
And so, in a late time national TV slot that the Ducks have grown naturally accustomed to (7:30 PM PT, ESPN), expect a blowout. I know, it’s become a common refrain, and last week Oregon struggled with Washington State for a half, but this is a Huskies team that is riding high and the Ducks will be ready. It appears, for the ninth consecutive time, Washington is in for a rude wake-up call.
You might have heard about a certain football game this weekend in Eugene. Yes, it’s time for the annual matchup between the Ducks and the Huskies on the gridiron. Despite rolling into Eugene with momentum after an upset victory over then No. 8 Stanford, No. 23 Washington comes into the game as 25-point underdogs, and for good reason.
The key matchup to look for will be the Oregon rushing attack against Washington’s run defense that held Stanford to just 65 yards on the ground last week. The Ducks rank sixth in the nation in rushing at 303 yards per game. Something’s got to give. However, the pressure won’t be on Washington’s defense as much as it will be on their offense. The Ducks have never scored less than 31 points in a home game since Chip Kelly took over as head coach in 2009.
So if the Huskies want to pull off their second straight upset over a top 10 team, they will have to be ready for a shootout. Unfortunately, their offense can’t handle a shootout type game. The Huskies rank 102nd in passing (194.0 YPG), 105th in rushing (119.3 YPG), and 94th in points for (23.3 PPG). The Oregon offense might get off to a shaky start again as they figure out the Huskies defense, but once they do, the Ducks will cruise to their ninth straight victory over Washington.
The Oregon Ducks square off against rival Washington Huskies tonight at 7:30 in what will be the 105th meeting between the two schools. The undefeated Ducks come in ranked second in the nation, while the one-loss Huskies rank 23rd after upsetting Stanford last week. The Ducks have dominated the series of late having won the last eight meetings.
Oregon will try to slow down star quarterback Keith Price and the Washington offense. The Oregon defense has been impressive this season and is coming off a shutout win against Arizona and a game against Washington State in which they allowed only seven second half points. Look for the Ducks to go to Kenjon Barner early and often. Barner rushed for 195 yards against the Cougars last weekend and scored four touchdowns. He scored a touchdown last year against Washington in Seattle.
Recent history suggests the game could be a laugher — the Ducks have won each of the past eight meetings by 17 points or more. Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox will hope to limit the Ducks’ high-powered rushing attack much like they did last week against Stanford when they limited them to 70 rushing yards on 28 attempts. Barner and the electric De’Anthony Thomas will certainly present a greater challenge than the Huskies faced last week.
In the end, Oregon’s up-tempo offense will likely wear Washington out as the game progresses, as was the case last week against Washington State. By the end of the night, Oregon, and its fans, will be celebrating a ninth straight win of 17 points or greater over their hated rival.