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#5 Washington Huskies vs. Oregon Ducks Pre-Game Analysis

Previewing this weekend’s matchup between the Huskies and Ducks, and what each team needs to do to win

NCAA Football: Oregon at Washington Jennifer Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Week 6 Weekend Matchup: #5 Washington Huskies vs. Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium

When: October 8, 2016 at 4:30 P.M. PT

Vegas Over/Under: Washington -8.5

After coming off a third straight loss, the Oregon Ducks are set up to be the spoiler as they take on the undefeated, fifth ranked Washington Huskies this Saturday. This will be the Ducks’ biggest game of the year, and will result in major bragging rights for the victor.

So far this season, the Husky Hype Highway has been a force that no team wants to get in front of. Washington is currently 5-0 (2-0 in the Pac-12) and is coming off their biggest win in recent memory against Stanford (who they embarrassed 44-6 last week).

The Ducks are coming into this weekend’s matchup with three things on their mind; play as the spoiler to Washington’s best season in recent memory; keeping the 12 year winning streak against the Huskies alive; and trying to not get blown-out in front of their own fans at home.

Between Washington and Oregon, there have been a total of 108 matchups, with the Huskies having the upper hand, winning 58 times. However as previously stated, the Ducks have dominated the series over the last 4,721 days, but the big question is….will that change come Saturday night?

So, what does each team need to do to capture a crucial conference win on Saturday?

FOR OREGON: Once again the Ducks need to execute the same game plan they have had all season going into this weekend, by coming out fast, avoiding costly penalties, and building-up an early lead over Washington while maintaining that momentum.

Over the past week, there certainly has been a lot of swirling going on about Oregon’s quarterback situation. And as each day goes by, it is looking more and more likely that freshman Justin Herbert may take the helm as the starter versus Dakota Prukop.

Being that this might be Herbert’s first official start as quarterback in a college game, he will need to leverage the array of talent that he has around him on the field, make quick and accurate passes, while avoiding major hits in order to build and keep Oregon’s future alive.

Oregon will also have to make maximum use of their star running back, Royce Freeman, who when healthy, is known for rolling over defenders. Just last weekend, “Rolls Royce” put up 138 rushing yards on 19 carries, including scoring three touchdowns. Freeman will need to hit that 100+ rushing mark on Saturday if the Ducks have any chance at an upset.

Oregon must also give their skill players more chances to make big offensive plays. Wide receiver Darren Carrington only had one reception last weekend. To win big games like the one this weekend, you must give your best receivers a chance. In addition, Charles Nelson must continue to have big kickoff returns in order to give the Ducks a shorter field to work with, and increase their chances of driving down field to score.

Although it’s no secret that the Ducks’ defense is their biggest weakness (ranked 102 in the nation against the run and 109 against the pass) a rivalry game against the Huskies could very well bring out the best in the Oregon defense. Defensive leaders like Troy Dye, Ugo Amadi, and Cameron Hunt must encourage this defense to increase pressure on the quarterback; force more fumbles, and make interceptions to help keep the Husky offense at bay.

FOR WASHINGTON: Now that the Washington Huskies are finally atop the Pac-12 Conference and the Top-25 National Rankings, the big question is can they be beaten or are they a legitimate contender for the College Football Playoffs. The Huskies come into Saturday’s matchup extremely confident, looking to break the losing streak against the Ducks and increase their rankings both in the Pac-12 Conference and Top-25.

Jake Browning, arguably one of the best quarterbacks in the Pac-12, has completed 82-116 passes, for 1,114 yards, including 17 touchdowns, and two interceptions this season.

Look for the Huskies to maximize the running game, including multiple carries from running backs Myles Gaskin, Lavon Coleman, and Jomon Dotson who have combined for 150 carries, rushing for 885 yards and six touchdowns this season.

Also expect Washington to make more use of wide receivers Chico McClatcher, John Ross, Dante Pettis, and Darrell Daniels, who thus far have combined for 62 receptions gaining 936 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Defensively, Washington has been dominant, ranking No. 15 for total defense in the nation (while only allowing 299 yards per game) and overall have compiled 20 sacks, ten forced fumbles, and picked up three interceptions. With Oregon having a power running game, the Huskies defense will be tested once again.

Bottom line, Oregon has yet to pull it together this season and this is clearly a rebuilding year for the Ducks. In the meantime, Duck fans need to remain supportive of their team and show the Huskies why Autzen is ranked as one of the top ten toughest places to play in the nation.

Prediction: Although the Oregon Ducks have tried to put their best effort forward week after week, it has a lot of younger players and just hasn’t reached the level that the team is capable of playing. And unfortunately for Oregon, the Washington Huskies appear to be hitting on all cylinders right now and are just too big of a storm, so the Ducks will likely suffer their fourth straight loss of the season, by a score of 56-24.

Wrap Up Notes: This Saturday will not only be Oregon’s biggest game, but their top prospects will be on hand during this weekend, including: three-star all-purpose back Darrian Felix; three-star running back Travis Etienne; four-star inside linebacker Nate McBride; three-star safety Trajon Cotton; four-star (also West Linn, OR native) cornerback Elijah Molden; three-star offensive tackle Alex Forsyth; and five-star wide receiver Joseph Lewis