OREGON DUCKS (5-0)
at WASHINGTON HUSKIES (4-1)
Kickoff: Saturday, 4:00 p.m. ET
Line: Oregon -13.5, Total: 75.5
No. 2 Oregon will look to continue its hot start under first-year coach Mark Helfrich as it travels to Seattle to take on No. 16 Washington; a team that will be looking to bounce back from a heartbreaking 31-28 loss at No. 5 Stanford.
When these two teams met up in Eugene last year, things got ugly in a hurry as the Ducks gained 497 yards on offense as they cruised to a 52-21 victory. Last week, without top RB De’Anthony Thomas (ankle), the Oregon offense didn’t miss a beat, as it piled up 755 yards in a 57-16 win at Colorado. The Ducks have been very impressive on the road in the past three years, winning their past 13 games (12-1 ATS) outside of Eugene. However, this could be the most difficult of those road contests, as they face an angry Washington team. The Huskies lost by three points in Palo Alto, but outgained the Cardinal by more than 200 yards and had a fourth-down catch get overturned that wound up being the difference. Washington has looked outstanding this season, in large part to the play of QB Keith Price. He has done a great job of not turning the ball over and shredding defenses with his pinpoint accuracy. Something will have to give in this game, as the Huskies have covered the spread in each of their past eight home games, and could shake up the Pac-12 in a big way with a victory in this game. However, Oregon is 9-0 SU (8-0-1 ATS) in the past nine meetings with Washington.
Can Oregon keep rolling in a tough environment on Saturday? For the answer, connect to College Football Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 regular season and bowl season. The four experts continue to thrive in college football Best Bets with a combined 58.1% ATS record (61-44-3) for the season. StatFox Gary is a sizzling 82% ATS (9-2-1) in college football Best Bets over the past four weeks and 67% ATS (10-5-1) this year. StatFox Scott is 67% ATS (10-5-1) on Best Bets in the past three weeks and 60% ATS (18-12-1) for the season. StatFox Dave is 75% ATS (9-3) on Best Bets in the past two weeks and 56% ATS (22-17) for the season. StatFox Brian is 52.4% ATS (11-10-1) in Best Bets this season.
When Chip Kelly left, many people wondered if the country’s most explosive offense had left with him. However, sophomore QB Marcus Mariota (14 pass TD, 0 INT, 7 rush TD) showed that not only would the Ducks have a great offense this season, it may be even better than it was last year. Through the first five games, the Ducks rank 2nd in the nation in scoring (59.2 PPG) and total offense (630.4 YPG), including 335.8 rushing YPG (3rd in FBS). They have done an outstanding job of getting up on their opponents early in the game, outscoring the opposition 111-24 in the first quarter. With the way the Ducks can put up huge points, these early leads have been demoralizing for their opponents. Byron Marshall filled in nicely for RB De'Anthony Thomas (338 rush yards, 8.0 YPC, 6 TD this year), rushing for 122 yards in the game, giving him 448 rushing yards on 6.3 YPC this year. Thomas, who rushed for 75 yards and touchdown in the win over the Huskies last year, is listed as questionable to return on Saturday. When Mariota (4 TD passes last year versus Washington) looks to throw, he mostly targets WRs Josh Huff (445 rec. yards, 4 TD) and Bralon Addison (345 rec. yards, 4 TD). As potent as the offense has been, it has been the play of the defense that has made the Ducks look like legitimate championship contenders this season. They currently rank 2nd in the country in scoring defense, giving up only 11.8 points per game. Put that into perspective, the Oregon offense has averaged 22.2 PPG in the first quarter, nearly double of what the defense allows per game. The Ducks defense has held opponents to just 4.1 yards per play, including 3.1 yards per carry this year. Junior DB Terrance Mitchell was huge for Oregon last week, as he had two interceptions in a dominating defensive performance. The Ducks now have 14 takeaways this season and an excellent +9 turnover margin. No disrespect to the Buffaloes, but the offense that the Ducks are going to be facing is much more potent than the one the Oregon defense saw last Saturday.
The Huskies offense was outstanding last week, putting up 489 total yards offense against Stanford, regarded as one of the best defenses in all of the country. However, the special teams really hurt the Huskies, allowing the Cardinal to take back the opening kickoff for a touchdown. QB Keith Price (1,394 pass yards, 8.7 YPA, 11 TD, 3 INT) was especially outstanding last week, throwing for 350 yards and two touchdowns. Now he needs to redeem himself after a dreadful performance in Eugene last year when he completed 19-of-31 passes for 145 yards (4.7 YPA), 0 TD and 2 INT. Star RB Bishop Sankey (732 rushing yards, 4th in nation; 8 total TD) helped complement the passing attack against Stanford with 125 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. His performance will be key to Washington controlling the clock and keeping Oregon's offense off the field, and Sankey showed that he could gain yards on this Ducks defense with 104 rushing yards and 2 TD on 25 carries in last year's meeting. The Washington defense has played well all season (14.8 PPG allowed, 14th in nation), especially last week when it held talented Stanford QB Kevin Hogan to just 100 yards passing, including an interception by DB Marcus Peters. The Huskies are holding opponents to just 287 total YPG and a meager 3.9 yards per play. While both of these defenses have been very good this season, expect both of these offenses to put a lot of points on the board in an exciting and very close game.