WASHINGTON HUSKIES (3-1)
at OREGON DUCKS (5-0)
Kickoff: Saturday, 10:30 p.m. EDT
Line: Oregon -24½, Total: 65
A pair of ranked schools square off in a key Pac-12 matchup on Saturday night when No. 2 Oregon hosts No. 23 Washington.
Oregon has won eight straight meetings (7-0-1 ATS) with last year’s 34-17 victory being the only final margin under 20 points in this span. Washington held a great Stanford rushing offense to 65 yards, while Bishop Sankey rushed for more than double that (144 yards) in last Thursday’s 17-13 upset win over the Cardinal. The Ducks have scored at least 42 points in each of their five wins, but are just 1-4 ATS due partly to 12 turnovers. They are coming off a 51-26 win over Washington State, as Kenjon Barner rushed for 195 yards and three touchdowns.
Can Washington keep it close against high-flying Oregon? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts picks for every key college football game throughout the 2012 season.
Washington QB Keith Price is off to a slow start this season, with just 5 TD passes in four games (three versus FCS school Portland State). Last season, Price threw 3+ TD passes in each of his first six games and finished the season with 33 touchdown throws. He also threw for a couple of touchdowns against Oregon last year, but finished with a meager 143 yards on 35 pass attempts (4.1 YPA) and threw two interceptions. The Huskies will look to employ a heavy ground attack with their sophomore Sankey, who rushed for a career-best 144 yards on just 20 carries (7.2 YPC) in last week’s win over Stanford, the school that was ranked No. 1 in rushing defense entering that game. However, the Ducks won’t be easy to run over, considering their rushing yards allowed have dropped in each subsequent game in 2012, allowing 226, 131, 115, 89 and minus-8 rushing yards to Washington State last week. Defensively, the Huskies have seemingly turned the corner after getting blasted at LSU, allowing just 496 total yards and 26 points over their two-game win streak since that defeat. Washington has forced eight turnovers in four games this year, and will look for more against an Oregon offense that has been careless enough to commit 12 turnovers so far this season.
Freshman QB Marcus Mariota has been just as good as advertised to start his collegiate career, connecting on 69% of his throws for 1,103 yards, 11 TD and 4 INT. However, he is coming off his worst career game, throwing for just 169 yards on 32 attempts (5.3 YPA), 1 TD and 2 INT. Barner ranks sixth in the nation in rushing (605 yards) after his monster game last week when he scored four touchdowns. RB De’Anthony Thomas continues to do it all, even returning kickoffs last week for the first time in 2012 in an effort to help his team’s FBS-worst 11.5 yards per kickoff return. He has 302 rushing yards and 193 receiving yards over five games, compiling eight touchdowns. On the other side of the ball, Oregon has been giving up passing yards by the bunches, surrendering 251 passing YPG (82nd in nation), but the run defense has been solid (111 rushing YPG allowed, 24th in FBS). The Ducks have also been able to pressure opposing quarterbacks, notching 3.2 sacks per game (T-13th in nation).