WHY UW WINS: Bishop Sankey. The junior running back leads the Pac-12 in rushing with 1,396 yards and is tied for second in touchdowns with 14. He’s averaging 136 rushing yards per game, second best in the conference. While OSU’s defense has improved drastically throughout the season, talented backs have been successful against the Beavers: Marion Grice (118 yards, 2 TDs), Silas Redd (140), Javorius Allen (133, 3), and Tyler Gaffney (145, 3).
WHY UW WINS: Usually, it’s a good thing when a defense gets to face a backup quarterback. But if recent history is any indication, that’s not necessary a good thing when it comes to the Beavers. Not having to worry about Keith Price should be an advantage. But remember Stanford’s Kevin Hogan last season? He made his first career start against OSU and completed 22-of-29 passes, threw for 259 yards, 3 TDs, and rushed for 49 yards. So it’ll be interesting to see how the Beavers fare against redshirt freshman Cyler Miles.
WHY UW WINS: Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian said that Miles reminds him of former UW standout Jake Locker. At 6-4, 213 pounds, Miles has similar size, and bad news for Beavers fans, he appears to be pretty mobile as well. Despite being the backup QB, he’s the Huskies’ fourth-leading rusher on the season with 144 yards on 14 carries, with a long run of 61 yards. He’s averaging 10 yards a carry. It almost seems a given that Miles will use his legs to make a big play or two Saturday.
WHY UW WINS: The Huskies have one of the top pass defenses in the conference. The unit is allowing 233 yards per game, third lowest in the Pac-12. It’s no secret OSU QB Sean Mannion has struggled during the Beavers three-game losing streak. So look for the Huskies to do everything they can to prolong Mannion’s struggles and record several interceptions. Giving Miles a short field would take a lot of pressure off the untested signal caller.
WHY UW WINS: This is a must win game for the Huskies. After a strong start to the season, they’ve slipped lately. At 6-4 and 3-4 in Pac-12 play, they now find themselves in fourth-place in the Pac-12 North Division. A win increases their chances of a bowl game and gives them much-needed momentum heading into the Apple Cup. Plus, with whispers that his job might be in jeopardy, Sarkisian will open the playbook to make sure UW wins.
Three Things to Watch For:
Beavers’ Intensity: In the midst of a three-game losing streak that’s derailed a promising season, this is a crucial game for the Beavers. The defense played inspired last weekend against ASU, but the offense came out flat. As a result, it will be interesting to see how the team responds. Saturday. The Beavers need to come out fired up or they could be in for a long evening.
Mannion’s Start: Nobody needs a stronger start Saturday than Sean Mannion. I think he’s still confident; he’s just needs to find his rhythm again. If the Beavers can put together a strong, balanced first drive, that should help him a lot. But a 3-and-out or an early-game interception could be devastating. Mannion needs to set the tone early on, not only for himself, but the Beavers as well.
The Crowd: A 7:30 start, temperatures in the 30s, and the Beavers in the midst of a three-game losing streak. Those factors could mean an apathetic crowd. But the Beavers need a loud Beaver Nation on Saturday. It could mean the difference between the Beavers making big plays on both sides of the field, because players feed off their fans. But will Beaver Nation bring it?