So it begins. And, the outlook is not optimistic.
Washington blew a golden opportunity last week. Take a home game from a team you are very arguably better than, and you head into the hardest part of the schedule with a plus one advantage towards bowl eligibility.
Instead, the Dawgs are dinged down a game in their quest for their first post-season appearance in eight years. Oh yeah, the opponent coming into Husky Stadium also beat that same Arizona State team you lost to last Saturday, but their last victory was over No. 9 Arizona in the desert. So, um, good luck with that one coach Sark.
That team happens to be the Oregon State University Beavers, who after their usual Out of Conference slump against pretty good competition, have come out like gangbusters in Conference play, like they usually do, and are looking like the top 25 team that they should be.
The Beavs are sitting at 3-2(2-0) with their only losses to top ten teams, and BCS Buster sweethearts, Boise State and Texas Christian.
Sooo...Where does the good news come in for the Dawgs? Well, it's a home game, and, this is pretty much a must win for Washington. At USC was a must win, and they played the desperate football needed to win the game. We're gonna need that kind of effort for the Huskies to pull out a victory on Saturday night.
After all, a victory would mean the world to Washington, getting them back to .500 before three straight games against top 15 opponents, two of which are on the road.
So without further ado, here are some of the factors in this match-up
What to expect from Oregon State:
Star power from a football team that usually doesn't feature it.
Coming from Corvallis, Oregon, the Beavers don't exactly impress a ton of recruits and get top notch talent. But Mike Riley has been able to coach it up. But when he was able to go down to Texas and get James Rodgers, he also couped up his brother, top prep running back Jacquizz. It was a steal.
The bottom line is the Huskies can't stop the run, and they can't stop the run to the edge of the field. Taylor Martinez made a joke out of Washington's speed on defense. Jacquizz Rodgers can to. Especially if Oregon State can find creative ways to get him the football in space.
It doesn't get any easier on the other side of the ball. Can't miss NFL prospect Stephen Paea anchors Oregon State's defensive line on defense. The Dawgs have already faced a DT just as good with Nebraska's Jared Crick. Chris Polk got some good runs between the tackles, so it will be interesting to see how Erik Kohler or whoever is matched up against this beast of a player can handle themselves.
Oregon State's developing QB tradition?
When it comes to claiming the title of Quarterback U in the Pacific Northwest, all three of the Beavers' rivals might have a little bit of a claim to the title. But recently the Beavers have been one of the best teams in the Pac-10 at the position, first with Derek Anderson, Mike Moore, and now with Sean Cantfield in the NFL.
The next in line is Ryan Katz, who has taken Oregon State's offense to the next level. After struggling early on with his accuracy, Katz has come on in Conference play throwing for 653 yards his last two games while completing over 65 percent of his passes.
Last week in Tucson was also the only time in five games he threw the ball to the other team. Doesn't bode well for a Husky defense that could only force one out of Stephen Threet last week.
How do the Beavs bode without James Rodgers?
The Beavers were dealt a huge blow this week when they got news that senior WR James Rodgers had a season-ending knee injury. Rodgers was an offensive spark for the Beavers, getting the ball in a variety of ways, even the running game, and was at the heart of any trickeration that Riley chose to dial up. It will be on Jacquizz's and Katz's shoulders now to keep an already explosive Beaver offense going.
Does Washington even have a chance?
By now hopefully I haven't depressed any Husky fans about this match-up so far, but I call it how I see it, and this Oregon State team would be undefeated if they had, say, Oregon's schedule. They are very good. Still, can Washington win? Absolutely. It's a home game, and there is still talent and players playing well for the Dawgs.
Chris Polk popped off 110 yards last week, while DeAndre Goodwin extenuated how deep the Huskies were at receiver by hauling in eight catches. Still, questions will arise at how healthy Jake Locker is after suffering a thigh bruise last week that clearly affected his mobility and put him in more sack situations than he should have been. Oregon State will know this and bring the pressure.
If the Huskies have a prayer, Locker will have to be mobile, but how about an offensive line that got owned last week give him a little help here. Big plays will have to be the name of the game, and that will mean Polk and the running game getting going early, setting up a motivated Jermaine Kearse and confident DeAndre Goodwin to make plays down field.
Defensively, it's the same formula that led to victory at USC. Contain the big play. Make the Beavers drive, force them into Field Goal situations, do not guarantee them touchdowns. They will be re-discovering what their offense is without one of the bigger equations to the puzzle in James Rodgers.
Everything will flow through Jacquizz, take that away, and you have a chance. The question is whether or not there is enough speed wearing purple that can do that with the blockers that Oregon State has up front.
Oregon State has too much size in both trenches, Jake Locker will still probably be bothered by his injury and Quizz will bust out some big runs. The Dawgs won't roll over and die, but it will get away in the end
Oregon State 27 Washington 21
Now let me crack a beer open to hopefully being wrong.
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