Washington continues to live up to heightened expectations as it hits the road to face Oregon State.
The No. 6-ranked Huskies (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) stayed unbeaten with a 37-10 victory over Colorado to open Pac-12 play. Washington swung momentum in its favor when Vita Vea blocked a punt to set up a go-ahead touchdown. The Huskies pulled away for good when Jordan Miller and Myles Bryant combined for three second-half interceptions.
Nothing went well for the Beavers, on the other hand, in their Pac-12 opener to Washington State two weeks ago. Oregon State (1-3, 0-1 Pac-12) fell to the Cougars 52-23 and lost starting quarterback Jake Luton for the rest of the season because of a thoracic spine fracture.
Washington leads the all-time series 62-34-4. The Huskies have won five straight games over Oregon State, including, most recently, a 41-17 victory over the Beavers last season. Oregon State last won in 2011, beating Washington 38-21.
Washington at Oregon State
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 30 at 8 p.m. ET
TV Channel: Pac-12 Networks
Spread: Washington -27
Three Things to Watch
1. Huskies are operating at peak efficiency
Finding football teams who are as efficient as Washington on both sides of the ball is almost impossible. Not only do the Huskies make the most of every possession, but they also keep opponents from gaining much ground at all.
On offense, Washington has mastered not letting a drive go to waste. The Huskies rank just 64th nationally in total offense (427.0 ypg), but they rank 11th in scoring offense (44.5 ppg). Defensively, Washington is mauling every offense it faces. The Huskies are 10th nationally in scoring defense (11.8 ppg) and 19th in total defense (274.0 ypg).
One factor is Washington's ability to take care of the ball while forcing opponents to cough it up. The Huskies rank eighth nationally in in turnover margin (+1.5 per game) and have committed just four turnovers in four games.
2 . Can Darell Garretson revive the Beavers' passing game?
Losing Jake Luton for the remainder of the season hurts, but a change in quarterback could benefit Oregon State. With Luton at the controls, the Beavers have been anemic in the passing game. They are generating just 220.8 yards through the air per game. Only Arizona and Stanford are throwing for fewer yards among Pac-12 teams.
The key to elevating the passing game could lie in finding ways to get the ball to Noah Togiai. The sophomore tight end has totaled 180 yards and a touchdown on 14 catches, but he has been targeted sparingly over the last two games. Togiai had a pair of catches for 18 yards against Minnesota and did not record a reception against Washington State.
More of a passing threat would take some of the offensive burden off of Ryan Nall in the backfield. Nall continues to be steady in his contributions. He has racked up 323 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Nall is currently averaging 6.1 yards per carry.
3. Will Myles Gaskin and Jake Browning dominate Oregon State again?
One thing has remained consistent for Washington's offense in each of the previous two seasons when the Huskies faced Oregon State. Myles Gaskin and Jake Browning have imposed their will.
In two games against the Beavers, Gaskin has totaled 255 rushing yards and averaged 6.2 yards per carry. Browning has proved equally potent. He has totaled 502 yards and seven touchdowns against Oregon State in his career, while completing 66.7 percent of his passes. Both players are on track to do major damage again.
Gaskin became just the fifth Washington player to eclipse 3,000 career rushing yards after running for 202 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Colorado. Browning is currently fourth in career passing yards (7,343) and career completions (545) and second in career touchdown passes (68) for the Huskies. The junior has thrown for 958 yards and nine touchdowns this season while completing 69.7 percent of his passes. His 176.95 quarterback rating leads all Pac-12 quarterbacks.
All this doesn't bode well for Oregon State. The Beavers are one of the nation's worst defensive teams, allowing 47.5 points and 485.5 yards per game. Among Pac-12 teams, only UCLA has given up more yards this season.
This is a mismatch of epic proportions. Washington is too skilled on offense and defense for Oregon State to offer any real resistance. The Beavers are reeling on both sides of the ball. Just keeping it close with the Huskies for four quarters would qualify as a minor miracle at this point.
Prediction: Washington 48, Oregon State 16
— Written by John Coon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports and many others. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports.