Matchup: Washington at Oregon
Venue: Autzen Stadium (Eugene, OR)
Game Time, TV: 7:30 PM (PST), ESPN/WatchESPN
Date: Saturday, October 6, 2012
Team Records: Washington (3-1), Oregon (5-0)
Standings: Oregon (T-1st in PAC-12), Washington (T-1st in Pac-12)
It has been a long time since both Washington and Oregon come into this game ranked (in fact, the last time this happened was at the turn of the century in 2000), and having both the Ducks and Huskies in the AP Top 25 has helped to give this rivalry an added spark that it has been missing in the past few years.
The Huskies have had a tough go of it against the Ducks as of late, not having a victory over their rivals from the South in eight straight contests, the longest losing/winning streak in rivalry history.
The Ducks, who sit in the No. 2 position in both the AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Poll, are priming themselves for a BCS National Championship run.
If they are able to take care of the Huskies at Autzen Stadium, they will solidify their case for a spot in the National Championship as well as dispose of yet another ranked opponent.
The game, which kicks off at 7:30pm, will be the third straight game the Ducks have played a 7:30pm contest on ESPN.
This will be Oregon’s final game before their bye week, returning to action against the Arizona State Sun Devils on October 18th in Tempe.
What to watch: Washington
If the Huskies are to have any shot at beating the Ducks, they will have to establish their running game early and often, thus drawing attention away from Washington’s talented air attack.
Bishop Sankey will lead the way for the Huskies on the ground and must be able to find open space among a very fast Oregon defense.
A solid effort by the Husky offensive line should aide Washington in quelling the big and fast Oregon line, a line that has been more than dominant against Oregon’s first two Pac-12 opponents, actually holding Washington State to negative rushing yards in their last contest.
If Sankey and the Husky rushing attack is able to crack the Oregon defensive scheme, look for Keith Price to exploit a honed in Oregon defense by finding his standout receivers Austin Sefarian-Jenkins and Kasen Williams for big conversions.
On the defensive side of the ball the Huskies must find a way to limit Oregon’s explosive offense.
As risky as it may be, Washington needs to play for the big play on defense as well. They must use their talented corners, particularly Desmond Trufant, to go after Oregon’s receivers and the ball.
If Washington is too conservative on defense, this game could get ugly fast for the visitors.
What to watch: Oregon
The big thing for the Ducks in this game will be whether or not they can build early momentum and keep that going throughout the entire game.
While the Ducks have jumped out to early leads this season, they have been inconsistent at times, sometimes allowing opponent back into games (like they did against Washington State).
Developing consistency on the offensive side of the ball is something Oregon still needs to work on, and being inconsistent against a team like the Huskies could prove to be Oregon’s Achilles heel.
Matchup to watch: Oregon’s defensive line vs. Washington’s offensive line
As mentioned earlier, the Huskies will need to establish a strong rushing attack if they want to have any shot at winning this football game.
One of the keys to doing this will be for Washington’s offensive line to take hold of Oregon’s physical and fast defensive front. The Huskies must space out the Oregon defensive line and create gaps big enough for Sankey to fit through en route to 4-5 yard gains.
For the Ducks, they must try to eliminate the amount of space the Huskies have to run the ball. They must concentrate their efforts and force the Huskies to try and find running lanes instead of allowing them to create them.
The Huskies may be in this game early on, but the Ducks will eventually find their momentum and speed, thus giving them the ability to blow by Washington in the second half.