The Washington Huskies beat the USC Trojans.
Let me repeat that. Jake Locker and The University of Washington Huskies beat the returning Pac-10 Champion, USC Trojans.
This Husky team is nothing for the Ducks to look past. Yes the Ducks are undefeated in the Pac-10 coming on nothing short of an incredible five-game winning streak, yes the Huskies have an overall record of 3-4, and yes Oregon trounced the Huskies 44-10 last year. But even so, I'm not convinced the battle in Seattle is going to go so smoothly next week for a number of reasons:
1. Jake Locker is nothing short of sensational. Locker is the Tim Tebow of the Pac-10. Locker single-handedly owned USC. Locker also leads the Pac-10 in passing yards on the season with 1,702.
2. The Huskies have been excellent at home, their only loss being a respectable 31-23 battle at the beginning of the season to SEC powerhouse LSU. And the obvious high-point being the 16-13 victory over USC. The Ducks will need to be very careful stepping into their hated rivals domain.
3. Jeremiah Masoli? Is he healthy or not? The guy was on fire before he went down with the injury to his knee, but if he comes back, what's to say he doesn't return to his pre-Cal game form?
4. Will the Oregon defense keep up the momentum? The Ducks D has been lights out this year. But with several key injuries can they maintain their dominance against the Locker beast? The Huskies also boast the highest third-down efficiency rating in the Pac-10. If this trend continues, will the Ducks have the endurance on defense to stick with them?
5. Lastly, Steve Sarkisian has the Huskies playing inspired. The winless team from last year has come out and battled with LSU, beat USC, and nearly knocked off Notre Dame in Indiana, with the same group of core players. There's no reason for the Huskies to let up against the Ducks.
While there are many questions going into this Saturday's matchup several facts still remain.
The Huskies lead the Pac-10 in penalties against them with 56 compared to the Ducks 39. Potentially a big difference maker if the game is close.
The Husky defense has had somewhat of a problem this year, especially against the run giving up 250 yards on the ground to USC and 321 against Stanford. Meanwhile, the Ducks running game has been tearing it up this year with an average of 202.7 yards per game (First in the Pac-10) which could spell disaster for the Huskies.
The Ducks also average the second most points per game in the Pac-10 with 32.5 while the Huskies have been averaging around 25.
At the end of the day the Ducks are going to pull it out. Oregon has been great all year running the ball (with the exception of the game which shall not be spoken of) which should push them over the top against a Washington defense struggling with its lack of talent. Locker will keep things close most of the game and wear down the Oregon defense, but barring another Boise State-esque performance it just won't be enough.
Oregon 38, Washington 27