Week 7 - Oregon at Washington

Posted Oct 9, 2013

Week 7 Fearless Predictions & Preview - Oregon at Washington

Arizona at USC, Stanford at Utah, Colorado at ASU
Cal at UCLA Oregon St at Washington State

Oregon (5-0) at Washington (4-1) Oct. 12, 4:00, Fox Sports 1

Why You Should Give A Hoot: U-Dub in the Pac-12 Game of the Week: The Sequel.
In an almost cruel twist of scheduling fate, Washington is facing the league's two best teams in back-to-back weeks. Last Saturday, the 16th-ranked Huskies earned a ton of national respect, yet came up a field goal short at Stanford. They actually outplayed the Cardinal in many phases, with the glaring exception of special teams. U-Dub is the genuine article this year, but it'll fail to seize the momentum if it can't shock second-ranked Oregon this week. The Huskies and their fans despise the Ducks, but they've lost nine straight in the rivalry by an average of nearly 26 points per game. Another defeat, especially in Seattle, will cap Washington's ceiling in 2013.

Oregon just keeps rolling along with all of the consistency of a fine timepiece. They've gone through the first five games unchallenged, reaching at least 55 points in each blowout. Still, critics have begun pointing to the Ducks' schedule, which has featured a wave of also-rans that includes the likes of 2-3 Virginia and 3-3 Tennessee. Oregon can strength its case as the next best thing to Alabama, remaining firmly ahead of Clemson, Ohio State and Stanford and Florida State, by maintaining its dominance over the Huskies.

Why Oregon Might Win: Kevin Hogan isn't Marcus Mariota. Yeah, the Washington defense played exceptionally well last week, and has all year, but Mariota and the rest of the Ducks present a very unique challenge. With or without RB De'Anthony Thomas, whose ankle kept him out of last week's game, Oregon will spread the field with playmakers capable of stretching the Huskies vertically and horizontally. Thomas is one of a kind, but backups Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner bring a thunder and lightning element to the backfield, respectively. Mariota's receivers, Josh Huff and Bralon Addison, too, possess the breakaway speed to prevent the Huskies from committing too many resources to the box.

Why Washington Might Win: Physical teams have given Oregon problems in the past. Last week on the Farm, the Huskies gave a four-quarter showcase of their physicality.

Washington stood toe-to-toe with Stanford, and never once backed down. The Huskies are vastly improved in the trenches, the one area of the field that's haunted them in recent years. A sound offensive line has helped unlock all of the ability of RB Bishop Sankey and QB Keith Price, who were terrific in the first month. On the other side of the ball, Justin Wilcox's D just got done holding the Cardinal to 279 yards. Now, Oregon won't be confused with Stanford, but the Huskies feel as if they have the necessary toughness up front and speed on the perimeter to keep the Ducks close this week.

Who To Watch Out For: The Washington receiving corps is a lot more than just WR Kasen Williams and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who's underachieved so far. Jaydon Mickens and Kevin Smith were terrific last week, both playing with the confidence to create intriguing matchups with a dynamite Oregon secondary led by CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.

- Troubled Duck TE Colt Lyerla has left the team to begin his pursuit of an NFL career. It could be a case of addition by subtraction in Eugene, especially since backup Johnny Mundt looks as if he's capable of picking up the slack in the passing game.

- This is the first really big test of the year for the Oregon D, which has faced a string of mediocre offenses. Junior DE Tony Washington and LB Derrick Malone are off to the best starts of their Duck careers, but now they need to maintain in their toughest challenge to date.

- To have a chance this week, Washington has to plug the holes in its special teams unit. The Huskies are yielding far too many long kickoff and punt returns, which hamstrung the defense against Stanford. If Oregon's speed erupts through the wedge a couple of times on Saturday, U-Dub is in big trouble.

What Will Happen: Washington is capable of winning this game. But it won't.

It's been a very long time since the Huskies were even in the same universe as the Ducks, but the divide between the two isn't what it's been over the last decade. Washington can legitimately compete with its hated rival from the south. Actually outscoring high-powered Oregon, though, is something very few schools have accomplished in the last five years. The Huskies are not going to lose sight of the Ducks, thanks to the running of Sankey and the passing of Price. However, Mariota will earn the victory, the game ball and even more support in the Heisman race.

Prediction: Oregon 44 … Washington 33
Line: Oregon -14 o/u: 71.5
Must See Rating: (5 Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight – 1 I Dream of NeNe: The Wedding) … 4.5
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