Oregon Football Preview: Is This The Year For the Washington Huskies?


Almost as soon as the Oregon Ducks lost to the Washington State Cougars in double overtime last weekend, my Washington Huskies friends came out of the woodwork.

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“This is our year,” was the general statement.

I heard that last year.

And the year before that.

And the year before that.

And the year before that.

And the year before that.

And the year before that.

The Oregon Ducks have won 11 straight in the series, and the worst Oregon season during that time was the first one, 2004, when Oregon finished 5-6. Which also happens to be the last time Oregon didn’t go to a bowl game. The Huskies went 1-10 that year, and that wasn’t even Washington’s worst season during the streak- 0-12 in 2008 pretty much takes the cake.

Now, though, the Huskies smell blood, even though Oregon is really two plays away from being 5-1 instead of 3-3 (a final stop against Wazzu in regulation and a barely overthrown ball at Michigan State). The oddsmakers think the streak could come to an end, for the Huskies are 2.5 point favorites (as of this writing).

But a quick check of the Huskies record and stats shows that maybe they shouldn’t be counting their chickens- or Duck victories- quite yet. While UW is 3-2, their three wins are against Sacramento State, Utah State, and a spiraling USC squad, the last Trojan game Steve Sarkisian ever coached.

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Their two losses are the first game of the season, a 16-13 loss in Boise against a fired up Broncos squad (facing Chris Petersen on his former home turf) and at home, 30-24, against the up-and-coming Cal Bears.

It’s the offense that may very well be the Huskies downfall this week. While true freshman QB Jake Browning, a top recruit out of California, will be very good in the years to come, the Huskies have scored 134 points, which is 11th in the Pac-12 (only Oregon State is worse, with just 99 points). And that’s with the 49-0 shutout of Sacramento State. Still, they’re facing- as you are no doubt aware- a very porous Duck defense that’s allowed a total of 232 points, the only Pac-12 team to allow more than 200 and 10th-worst in the country (even winless Kansas, who’s had three teams score more than 40 on them and two more than 50, has allowed five fewer points than the Ducks). If Browning can throw the ball all over the place, then UW’s chances increase dramatically.

The Huskies key, and the key to a Duck victory, is the UW defense. The defense is 14th in the nation in points allowed, a stingy 15 points per game. The Huskies have allowed just 75 points total, tops in the conference– yes, even better than Stanford, who’s given up 95. The Huskies are 30th in the country in rushing defense, and the Ducks are 6th in the country in rushing offense. If the Huskies can stop the Oregon running game- Royce Freeman is 141 yards away from breaking 1,000 on the season already after his season-high 246 yard effort last weekend- then the Ducks are in trouble. It’s no doubt been a top priority for both teams during practice this week.

Is this next year for Washington? It might be. But if the Ducks put up close to 300 yards rushing- they’ve broken the mark four times this year already- then it may very well be an Oregon victory for the 12th consecutive season. And the Huskies will have to once again wait ‘till next year.

Oregon and Washington kickoff on Saturday at 7:30pm Pacific Time on ESPN2.

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