What: Oregon State (5-5 overall, 2-5 Pac-12) at Washington (6-5, 2-5)
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: Husky Stadium, Seattle, Washington
On the Air: Pac-12 Network/Beaver Sports Network
Series: 60-34-4, Washington.
Last season: The Huskies rushed for 537 yards and seven touchdowns during their 69-27 route of the Beavers. Three UW running backs ran for 100+ yards (Bishop Sankey, 179; Deontae Cooper, 166; and Dwayne Washington, 141). Brandin Cooks (10 catches, 119 yards, 1 TD) and Chris Brown (7 carries, 73 yards, 1 TD) were the few standouts for OSU, during arguably the worst loss in team history.
UW’s last game: Washington is coming off a heart-breaking 27-26 loss to then No. 17 Arizona in Tucson, after Wildcats kicker Casey Skowron hit a 47-yard field goal as time expired. UW lost despite taking a 26-21 lead into the fourth quarter and 149-yard, 2 TD performance from running back Dwayne Washington.
Notes: The winner of Saturday’s contest becomes bowl eligible. The 69 points the Beavers gave up last year to the Huskies is the most in school history. Washington offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Jonathan Smith is one of OSU’s most beloved quarterbacks and is known for being a Husky killer during his four seasons under center. In last season’s game against UW, Victor Bolden set the Pac-12 record for kickoff return yards — 305 on 12 returns, with one being a 98-yard TD return.
5 Keys to Victory
1. Pass Protect like Crazy. The Huskies are second nationally in sacks with 40. Senior linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha, UW’s all-time sacks leader, leads the country with 16.5 sacks (He is tops in tackles for loss at 22.5). So to say the Beavers’ offensive line will have its hands full is an understatement. They will need to turn in their finest performance to date for the Beavers to win.
2. Force Turnovers. While UW forces a lot of turnovers (lead the nation with seven defensive touchdowns), they also are good at taking care of the ball on offense. He might not get mentioned among all of the Pac-12’s outstanding signal callers, but Cyler Miles’ 12-2 TD to INT ratio is outstanding. In fact his QB efficiency rating is 33rd best in the nation. Timely turnovers could play a big role for the Beavers for the second straight weekend.
3. Convert Field Goals. A 7:30 start in mid-November in Seattle. Let’s face it the weather could be an issue Saturday, like it has been for several OSU/UW matchups in recent years. So whoever the kicker is for OSU this weekend is, he needs to channel his best “Alexis Serna” and make all his field goal attempts. Serna was like 18-for-18 in his career at Husky Stadium, including a 6-for-6 performance in 2005 that accounted for all of OSU’s points in an 18-10 win. Moving the ball could be tough, so you gotta take points any way you can get.
4. Stick with the Run Game. Terron Ward will miss Saturday’s game, but that doesn’t mean the Beavers should dial back its rushing attack. In fact, they should run right at the Huskies. Storm Woods has been a beast all season, and Chris Brown and Damian Haskins have shown they can make plays. The Beavers will need to be able to run the ball to take pressure off Mannion and the offensive line. Otherwise, the UW front 7 could have a field day.
5. Hit on a few Big Plays. A big play here and there could do wonders for the Beavers. Not only would plays such as a deep ball or breakaway run take the Husky defense out of its element, but the homecrowd as well. Husky Stadium is always a tough place to play because of how loud it can get, so if the Beavers can quiet the fans with some momentum-killing plays, it could help them get the upper hand they need.
Game prediction: 27-24, Beavers. I think OSU starts off strong thanks to a balanced offensive attack, and then holds of a Husky rally to emerge with a win and bowl eligibility. Points will be hard to come by because of the weather, but the Beavers score just enough to best UW.
What are your thoughts about the UW game?