Before kickoff between the Washington Huskies and the Oregon Ducks football team, the EDN Sports team gives their analysis and predictions.
Kickoff: Saturday, October 12th @ 1:00 p.m. PST (Fox Sports 1, 408 Comcast)
Husky Stadium (Seattle, Washington)
Spread: Oregon -10.5 (Vegas Insider)
Through six weeks of college football the Oregon Ducks and Washington Huskies have had two of the most dominant offenses in college football. Each led by star quarterbacks, Marcus Mariota for Oregon and Keith Price for Washington, Saturday’s showdown will be one of the most exciting games in the Pac-12 this season.
“I think as a unit, we’ve all gotten better with Marcus,” Oregon wide receiver Bralon Addison said. “Marcus does some amazing things with his legs and has the arm to complement those legs. It’s almost like he’s playing a video game out there.”
While these two rivals look similar on paper, it goes beyond their two signal callers. For instance, both have game-changing tight ends. Washington with Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Oregon with Colt Ly- I mean Johnny Mundt.
While Mundt isn’t as proven as his predecessor he’s been a stable replacement and has shown flashes of brilliance. In limited action the true freshman has seven catches for 162 yards (23.1 YPC) and two touchdowns.
Per usual the Ducks will need to continue to play a clean game. Oregon is 13th in the country with just five turnovers on the year, all of them coming by way of backups. Mariota’s 14-0 TD-INT ratio is remarkable and he’ll need another strong performance not only for the Ducks to come away victorious but to also stay strong atop the Heisman watch lists.
Look for a close game all the may midway through the fourth quarter when the Ducks wear down an already worn-out Husky team. After a heartbreaking loss to Stanford last week, there won’t be enough gas in the tank to pull out the upset.
Score Prediction: Oregon Ducks 37, Washington Huskies 28
Game MVP: Johnny Mundt
Alas we’ve made it to the meat of the season. After annihilating opponents at historic levels, the Ducks face a legitimate threat this Saturday.
Last week the Huskies faltered against Stanford, but other than a few plays, they outplayed the Cardinal and were able to move the ball consistently on one of the most highly regarded defenses in the nation. And before that, they made quick work of their first four opponents.
Washington has come along way under head coach Steve Sarkisian and once maligned quarterback Keith Price. This is probably the deepest, most experienced and best overall UW squad since the days of Marques Tuiasosopo and Rick Neuheisel.
Unfortunately, they picked the wrong year to be this good. After Saturday, they will post their second loss in a row and fall completely out of contention to reach a BCS game or even the Pac-12 title game.
It’s going to take a team that can control the tempo and most importantly, dominate the Ducks at the line of scrimmage to have a chance to come out on top. Washington does not fit either criterion. Washington’s high-octane offense will only allow Mariota and the Oregon offense to stay in rhythm. Plus if Arizona and Stanford can move the chains on the ground against the Huskies, Oregon should be able to do the same and then some.
It’s hard to say exactly how effective the Ducks defense will be in containing Price and the Husky offense considering they haven’t faced elite offenses. But, I think that facing Oregon’s offense every day in practice will give them more than enough preparation to sniff out Sarkisian’s game-plan and disrupt Washington’s execution
Get ready, because Saturday will mark a decade of dominance over Husky football.
Score Prediction: Oregon Ducks 38, Washington Huskies 27
Game MVP: Bralon Addison
It’s been a long, long time since the Huskies beat the Ducks. The stars of Oregon’s dynamic offense were in elementary school and Chip Kelly was a few years from moving out west. Since then it’s been nine straight Oregon wins with a lot of uneven final scores.
But could this be the year for Washington? They have a new stadium that will surely be rocking. Oregon has a first year head coach and will be missing at least Colt Lyerla on offense, and there is some question as to whether or not De’Anthony Thomas will play. Add College Gameday to the mix, and consider that the Huskies will be by far the toughest competition the Ducks have faced this year. Will that all add up for first year head coach Mark Helfrich?
Washington certainly thinks so. The Huskies went blow for blow with Stanford on the road last week, eventually falling by three points. Keith Price has been taking care of the ball, throwing for 11 touchdowns to just three interceptions so far on the year, and Bishop Sankey has been a workhorse back, averaging over 25 touches per game, finishing all but one game over 100 yards (and earning 77 yards on four carries the only time he failed to reach the century mark).
All that being said, Oregon’s defense is as good as it’s been in a very long time, and the new brand of up-tempo Husky football isn’t exactly uncharted territory for the Ducks.
Oregon pulls away in the second half and makes it a decade of dominance over the Huskies.
Score Prediction: Oregon Ducks 53, Washington Huskies 35
Game MVP: Marcus Mariota
It’s a good old fashioned Pac-12 battle coming up on Saturday as Oregon will see the best Washington team it’s seen since the Ducks started lining up nine straight wins against their bitter rival. And while Oregon has been laying waste to its lower-tier opponents, the Huskies have looked good in wins over Boise State and Illinois, falling in the last minutes against Stanford last week. If Oregon wants a tenth straight win, it’ll have to come from an outstanding effort as Washington matches up really well this fall.
Steve Sarkisian’s team is actually modeled a bit on the Chip Kelly and Mike Bellotti squads of the past. They’re led by Keith Price and Bishop Sankey who are among the best at their position, really nationally, and they have a big tight end in Austin Sefarian-Jenkins.
But Washington’s defense this year is what’s made the Huskies look incredibly scary, and that’s what makes this game very even. Because this is the first team Oregon has faced this year that is talented on both the offense and defense, there’s a lot to learn about this Duck squad.
Number one is, how does Marcus Mariota live up to a big game where he might not score at will? The last time the Ducks were not able to move the ball was against Stanford, and the Ducks’ receiving corps is arguably improved from that outing. Oregon’s offense will be highly pressured, and if De’Anthony Thomas is out or limited, Oregon’s ball falls on Mariota’s shoulders. How does he respond to the pressure on the road? Likely, with his trademark poise, but you just never know.
Number two, will an experienced and talented defensive line start to get pressure when it really matters? Job #1 for the d-line is obviously to take chances away from Sankey and make him fight for his yards. But the ends, and Tony Washington, will have to put heat on Price and make him fight for his yards. Oregon’s got an opportunistic secondary, but it’ll need Price to be back on his heels and frequently fearing big hits for the big moments that will turn this game.
If Oregon wins these battles, they’ll have the advantage, but obviously that’s not so easily done. Oregon has the advantage at most positions, but Washington’s going to come in angry and have a rowdy bunch at the new Husky Stadium. Oregon’s going to win, probably by a wider advantage than the game will feel by the end.
Score Prediction: Oregon Ducks 42, Washington Huskies 31
Game MVP: Taylor Hart