Game: Washington Huskies @ Oregon Ducks
Where: Berkeley, CA
When: October 18thth, 5:00 pm
Channel: FOX Sports 1
Line: Oregon by 20.5 points
Will the Huskies finally find a way to beat the Oregon Ducks? The Washington Huskies have been beaten by the Oregon Ducks the past ten years. A decade of dominance for the Ducks, and a decade of shame for the Huskies. However, the Huskies once again have reason for some optimism. New coach, Chris Petersen, is 2-0 against the all mighty Ducks. Does Coach Pete have anything left up his sleeve to pull off yet another victory against Oregon? Can Cyler Miles, John Ross, and Lavon Coleman will the offense down the field and keep pace with the electrifying Marcus Mariota-led Oregon offense? Will Danny Shelton, Hau’oli Kikaha, and Shaq Thompson be able to limit Mariota’s play-making skills? Husky Nation has been waiting to see how our team will look against a truly elite team…well, here is our chance.
Quarterback. Cyler Miles looked much improved last week against Cal. With that being said, I would caution Husky Nation to not get overly excited. Cal’s passing defense is vulnerable and Cyler played one of his better games of the season. Hopefully he can carry this momentum into a game against a much higher profiled opponent, the Oregon Ducks. Edge here goes to Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, perhaps the best football player in the nation.
Running Backs. Surprisingly the Washington Huskies actually struggled to establish the run last week at Cal. All season long the Huskies have leaned heavily on their rushing attack and that will again be the emphasis in Eugene this weekend. However, Oregon’s running game is of the best in the country. The Ducks boast one of the deepest running back corps as well as an extremely mobile quarterback in Mariota. Edge, Ducks.
Wide Receivers. The Washington Huskies have John Ross III and Jaydon Mickens. That seems about it these days. Granted Ross is going to score a TD of 55+ yards in every game that still is not enough compared to Oregon’s WR’s. The Ducks running backs are also heavily utilized in the passing game putting extra stress on the opposing pass defense. Against a young and inexperienced Husky secondary, the Ducks could find success through the air early. Edge, Ducks.
Tight End. The Huskies were sure happy to see Joshua Perkins back after sitting out much of the first half of the season with an injury. The Junior TE scored on an impressive corner route hook up against Cal last weekend. Perkins seems to be somewhat of a safety net for Cyler Miles. Even having Perkins pairing up with the ultra-talented Darrell Daniels, the Huskies have not gotten the same production out of this position as the Ducks have. Pharaoh Brown has been a presence over the middle of the field and in the red-zone for the Ducks. Expect another solid performance from Brown. Edge, Oregon.
Offensive Line. This was a tricky position to analyze for both teams. Both teams have experience, size, and athleticism across their offensive line. I gave the edge here to Washington’s line due to their more consistent performance this far in the season. Oregon’s line is probably the more talented group, but due to injuries they have not been able to get in rhythm and have struggled the past few weeks. It appears that the Ducks are getting healthier and Duck fans could see a much better performance from the lineman this week. Edge, Washington.
Defensive Line. Even against the almighty Oregon Ducks, the defensive line of Washington has consistently been one of the best in the nation. Danny Shelton and Hau’oli Kikaha will certainly make their presence felt this weekend; however, they need to focus and really wrap up Mariota. If they apply pressure and can’t bring him down or contain him it will be a very long day for the Husky defense. Oregon’s defensive line has played well all season long, but the edge here goes to two of the nation’s elite defensive lineman. Edge, Huskies.
Linebackers. The Washington Husky defense is 1st in the country in turnover margin, in large part due to the play of their linebackers. This group has scored 5 defensive touchdowns in 6 games (Shaq 4, Timu 1.) Led by Shaq Thompson, John Timu, and Travis Feeney this unit is experienced, talented, and supremely athletic. Edge, Huskies.
Defensive Secondary. It is scary how similar the Washington and Oregon defensive backfields are. Both boast potential first round cornerbacks in Marcus Peters and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. However, outside of that the other three positions are filled by relatively inexperienced players. Both teams have given up their fair share of yardage through the air, but have really improved in the last few weeks. This position group is a wash.
Special Team. Cameron Van Winkle had one of his two field goal attempts blocked last week at Cal. Coach Pete will have the blocking scheme cleaned up and ready to roll for Oregon this week. Van Winkle has been great this season place kicking and Korey Durkee has been spectacular punting the football. Oregon has a solid kicking game of their own. Matt Wogan is 3-4 on the season, and Ian Wheeler has performed admirably in his punting duties. The difference here is one player. And that player is John Ross III. Washington has the most electrifying player in the nation and he will be a huge threat on kick returns again this weekend.
Washington 28 Oregon 31
I think this game will be closer than most people expect. The Washington Husky defense will stand up once again and hold the Ducks to only 31 points. Expect Shelton and Kikaha to be disruptive along the defensive line just like they have all year long. Look for Shaq Thompson to make his presence felt with another key turnover, although I don’t think he gets in the end zone this week. Washington’s offense will struggle at times, but will be boosted by a long receiving touchdown and kickoff return by John Ross III. In the end, Mariota will escape the pressure applied by Shelton and Kikaha one too many times and lead the Ducks into field goal range where Matt Wogan will hit the game winner. Tough loss for the Huskies, but they will show a lot of promise for the future Chris Petersen teams. Go Dawgs!