Before kickoff between the Washington State Cougars and the Oregon Ducks football team, the EDN Sports team gives their analysis and predictions.
Kickoff: Saturday, October 19th @ 7:00 p.m. PST (Fox Sports 1, 408 Comcast)
Autzen Stadium (Eugene, Oregon)
Spread: Oregon -38.5 (Vegas Insider)
This game could get out of hand early… and it will. Last Saturday’s meltdown against Oregon State was just a teaser of what will happen when the Cougs head South to Eugene and face a much stiffer and proven secondary.
After a close three quarters, Washington State allowed 28 unanswered points due in large part to three costly interceptions. While Oregon could, and will, beat the Cougs for a handful of reasons, turnovers will be the biggest key for a lopsided victory. I’m predicting five – YES, FIVE – interceptions by the Oregon secondary. I’ll go two to Avery Patterson and one each to Erick Dargan, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Terrance Mitchell.
I don’t expect to see much action from any of the regular contributors on offense – Marcus Mariota and Josh Huff. Star running back De’Anthony Thomas also won’t likely have much of an impact considering it’d be reckless to risk re-injury in what is essential a throw away game.
For this reason I’ll give my MVP slot to Mr. Patterson of the defense.
Score Prediction: Oregon Ducks 62, Washington State Cougars 14
Game MVP: Avery Patterson
For most quality teams, a game against a sneaky opponent with a dangerous passing attack sandwiched between two titanic matchups could be a trap game. Case and point- Stanford’s loss to Utah. But this Oregon team is better than your run of the mill top ten team. Through the first half of the season, Oregon has looked dominant in every facet of the game besides field goal kicking. But who needs three points when you can get seven?
WSU on the other hand looks to bounce back from an atrocious fourth quarter against the Beavers in which they allowed an astounding 28 points off of turnovers. Though the Cougs have been at times magnificent offensively, they have been quite turnover prone this year. Look for one of the Ducks star corners to make a big impact by deflecting passes and forcing turnovers. Washington State has one of the worst running games in the nation, so Duck corners will have a busy night attempting to thwart Connor Halliday and the Cougs dynamic pass attack, which is ranked number three in the nation in passing yards. On the other end of the spectrum, the Huskies rank dead last by nearly a first down in rushing yards per game.
Though their defense repeatedly allows opponents to waltz up and down the field, they are tied for sixth in the nation in forcing interceptions. But other than pass defense, the Ducks shouldn’t be challenged at all on Saturday.
Earlier this week Nick Allioti advised the Cougs to repeatedly throw the ball deep in hope of eliciting pass interference penalties. Though they would be hard-pressed to successfully execute that strategy, a nifty game plan is mostly irrelevant when the talent gap is so stark. Oregon wins big…. again.
Score Prediction: Oregon Ducks 55, Washington State Cougars 10
Game MVP: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu
It might just be the not-completely-digested Dough Co. I had last night, but I have a funny feeling about this Saturday’s matchup against the Cougars. At least as far as how it looks in the early going. Strangely, Wazzu lately seems to have Oregon’s number from the opening kickoff until something clicks. In 2010, LaMichael James housed a pass from Darron Thomas and Cliff Harris went yard on a punt return to jumpstart the Ducks. In 2011, Damante Horton took an errant Thomas pass 76 yards to trail the Ducks just 15-10 going into halftime; De’Anthony Thomas took care of that one with a … I’ll just let you watch that one yourself.
And last year, after the Ducks stole out to a huge early advantage, a big second quarter from Connor Halliday made the halftime score 23-19. A third-quarter performance by DAT, Avery Patterson and Kenjon Barner sealed that one.
All the games went in favor of the Ducks in a big way — as they have since 2006, the last time Wazzu beat Oregon. But the fact remains that those three games are leaving a lot of angry Cougs on the roster: Horton’s playing really well, Halliday’s still the starting quarterback. And Mike Leach has the Cougs playing the best they have in over a decade.
The Cougs will probably make a lot of media folks say words like trap game and upset and unexpected, but I think it’ll be the fourth-straight huge third quarter for the Ducks. Washington State really doesn’t have the depth yet at any position to contend with this Oregon squad for all four quarters. While I think Oregon will struggle going into halftime, and I think Marcus Mariota might just throw his first interception of the season, a breakaway play or two will turn the tides completely for the green and yellow … and pink, I guess.
Score Prediction: Oregon Ducks 48, Washington State Cougars 20
Game MVP: De’Anthony Thomas