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Oregon Ducks vs. Washington Huskies Game Preview and Prediction

Marcus Mariota

Marcus Mariota

Washington and Oregon are technically rivals, as less than five hours and 300 miles separate the two Pacific Northwest campuses. But the recent history of this rivalry has been significantly in favor of the Ducks. Oregon has won 10 in a row over the Huskies, with Washington’s last win in this series coming in 2003.

With the recent series in mind, it’s no surprise Oregon is almost a three-touchdown favorite over Washington. However, Saturday’s game represents an opportunity for both teams to make a statement. The Ducks can solidify their place at the top of the Pac-12 with a convincing win, while the Huskies can score a statement victory in coach Chris Petersen’s first year with an upset in Eugene.


And with a win on Saturday, Washington can bring some spark to a rivalry that has been significantly one-sided in favor of the Ducks.

Washington at Oregon


Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: Fox Sports 1
Spread: Washington -20.5

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Three Things to Watch


1. Oregon’s Offensive Line vs. Washington Front Seven
Did the Ducks fix their issues on the offensive line last week? In the 42-30 win over UCLA, the offensive line was bolstered by the return of tackle Jake Fisher, as the Bruins did not register a sack, and Oregon’s rushers averaged 6.3 yards per carry. Was that a one-game fix or a sign of things to come? Fisher is a valuable addition to the lineup to protect quarterback Marcus Mariota’s blindside, but UCLA’s pass rush ranks near the bottom of the Pac-12. Washington’s defensive front has recorded 24 sacks through six games and is headlined by linebacker Shaq Thompson (46 tackles, 1 INT, 3 FF), defensive tackle Danny Shelton (49 tackles, 7 sacks) and defensive end/linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha (10 sacks). Stopping UCLA’s defensive front is one challenge, but Washington has one of the best defensive line and linebacking corps in the nation. Is Oregon’s improvement up front a one-week mirage or a sign of things to come? This matchup should provide good insight into the Ducks’ offensive line.

2. Washington QB Cyler Miles
It’s no secret which quarterback will garner most of the nation’s attention on Saturday night. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is one of the frontrunners to win the Heisman, and the junior has yet to throw an interception on 155 attempts in 2014. But a quick check of the Pac-12 passing stats shows there is one more starter in the Pac-12 with zero interceptions: Washington’s Cyler Miles. The sophomore missed the opener due to suspension but has passed for 896 yards and nine touchdowns over the last five games. Miles has made steady improvement in his first year as a starter and threw for a season-high of 273 yards against California last week. The Golden Bears aren’t one of the Pac-12’s elite defenses, but Miles seems to be getting more comfortable with each snap. Oregon’s defense will bend (470.3 ypg, 5.8 ypp) and ranks last in the Pac-12 in third-down stops. Don Pellum’s defense has also been opportunistic (12 forced turnovers and 18 sacks), but the Ducks will allow opposing offenses to move the ball. Can Miles play another mistake-free game? In a hostile environment, Washington needs Miles to play his best game to win on Saturday night.

3. Oregon’s Explosive Offense
Even if Washington’s front seven has success against Oregon’s offensive line, can the Huskies cover the Ducks’ big-play threats at receiver? Michigan State is the best defense the Ducks played this year, and the Spartans gave up 7.2 yards per play and 46 points. That's concerning for Washington, as Michigan State’s secondary is better than the Huskies and quarterback Marcus Mariota gashed the Spartans for 318 yards. Washington’s secondary features standout corner Marcus Peters, but two freshmen starters (Sidney Jones and Budda Baker) will be tested on Saturday night. The Huskies did not allow a touchdown pass to California last Saturday and gave up seven against Eastern Washington. The numbers are skewed slightly due to one game, but opposing quarterbacks are completing 64.1 percent of their throws against Washington’s defense. Getting pressure on Mariota is step No. 1 in stopping the Oregon offense. However, when he is able to deliver on time, can the Huskies slow down a group of explosive playmakers, starting with running backs Royce Freeman and Thomas Tyner and at receiver with Devon Allen (19.6 ypc)?


Final Analysis


A 21-point spread seems too much for this game. Oregon is tough to beat at home, and a healthy offensive line should bolster Mariota’s Heisman bid over the next two months. The Ducks’ explosive offense sputters early against the Huskies’ defense, but Mariota and his receiving corps eventually makes enough plays to pull away in the fourth quarter. First-year Washington coach Chris Petersen has his team prepared for the challenge, but Oregon simply has too much on offense.


Prediction: Oregon 38, Washington 27