Oregon is underdogs for the first time at home since 2009 when they played USC. Since 2006, the Ducks are 10-0 against the Huskies and have those games by an average margin of victory of 21.6 points per game.
The Huskies are coming off a dominating performance against Stanford (44-6), a game in which they manhandled the Cardinal on the offensive and defensive lines. Washington is averaging 45 points per game and has been rushing for 199 yards on the ground along with passing for 241 yards through the air.
Quarterback Jake Browning has looked very sharp in head coach Chris Peterson’s offensive schemes and has shown poise in locating his receivers down the field. Browning was able to make throws outside the hashes against Stanford and allow his receivers the ability to make plays on the run. On the year, Browning is completing 70% of his passes for 1,114 yards with 17 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Browning has made great decisions and will have to show patience early on in this game on the road in Auzten Stadium.
Running back Myles Gaskins could be the most important player for the Huskies offense on Saturday night. If Gaskins can run between the tackles early on, this will allow Browning to work off of play action to attack a suspect Ducks secondary. Gaskins enters this game leading the team with 402 rushing yards averaging 4.2 yards per carry with 4 touchdowns.
Wide receivers Chico McClatcher and John Ross have combined for 37 receptions for 590 yards and 10 touchdowns. Both players have great hands and the ability to make plays over the middle of the field on dig routes.
Defensively, the Huskies are playing like the Huskies of yesteryear. Washington is allowing 12 points per game and has been stellar in run support giving up 122 rushing yards per game.
The secondary is yielding 177 passing yards per game and has been helped out by a dominant front seven that has recorded 21 sacks through the first five games (1st in FBS).
Look for the Huskies to blitz early and often to force Oregon quarterback Dakota Prukop into quick throws and check downs underneath coverage. Washington is holding opposing offenses to 30% conversions on third downs and enters this game +11 in turnover margin which ranks first in FBS.
The Ducks are averaging 40 points per game and are rushing for 263 yards on the ground and 248 yards through the air. However, this is not the same offensive juggernaut that college football fans have witnessed in recent years. The Ducks have been out of sync at times and do not run opposing defenses sideline to sideline as much in games to wear them out.
Quarterback Dakota Prukop will be playing in his first rivalry game where the expectations for a Duck victory are through the roof. The crowd will be into the game early on and it is imperative for Prukop to start fast at home against an attacking Huskies front seven.
Prukop has completed 66% of his passes for 1,173 yards with 8 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Oregon has allowed 10 sacks through the first five games and must give Prukop time to read through his progressions. Prukop must show poise and have the ability to locate the “hot” routes on blitz pick-ups against Washington. This will be the key for the Oregon offense if they are to pick up the home win.
Running back Tony Brooks-James leads the team with 271 yards with 6 touchdowns after filling in for Royce Freeman, who was injured for the season. Brooks-James will need to run between the tackles and establish the run against Washington to take the pressure off of the offensive in pass protection.
Oregon must have success early on in the game, because they have shown the ability to be worn down by physical defensive lines late in games. Oregon will need to play with the lead in order to win this game and keep the crowd in the ball game at all times. If they fall behind early, the fact that the team has lost 3 straight could take over and be a negative factor as the game progresses.
Defensively, the Ducks are giving up 36 points per game and are allowing 210 rushing yards per game along with 280 passing yards per game.
In order to win on the defensive side of the ball, the Ducks must force Browning and the offense into third down and long situations. Entering this game, the Washington offense is converting 48% of their third down attempts.
Oregon has recorded 14 sacks through 5 games and enters this game +1 in turnover margin.
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