Washington (2-0) vs. Portland State (1-1)
5 p.m. Saturday, Husky Stadium
The line: None
TV: Pac-12 Networks
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Before this season began -- not long ago, obviously -- I thought it possible that Portland State could be the toughest matchup on the Huskies’ nonconference schedule.
The Vikings are a Big Sky team, sure. But they won nine games last season, upset Washington State, scored 66 points against North Texas, beat Eastern Washington and earned a spot in the FCS playoffs. And they return several key offensive players, including starting quarterback Alex Kuresa.
PSU also runs probably the most difficult offense to defend of UW’s first three opponents, even if the Vikings don’t have the same depth as Rutgers (I think they’d be a fair match for Idaho, though). For that reason, I wonder if this won’t end up being the most difficult challenge of the nonconference schedule for Washington’s defense.
Of course, UW’s front seven might also be licking its chops, knowing Portland State has run 140 offensive plays in two games and 90 of them were rushes. The Huskies rank 26th nationally so far in yards per rush allowed at 2.79, so it might be that the Vikings are playing into UW’s strength -- assuming the Huskies can figure out the pistol offense, a different look than they’re used to -- though an optimistic analysis of Washington’s defense might conclude that it lacks any true weakness, anyway.
As for PSU’s defense, it is allowing 7.2 yards per play through two games, and gave up 66 points and 642 yards of total offense (and 409 yards rushing) last week to San Jose State. The Spartans might end up being a decent Mountain West squad this year, but you’d have a hard time imagining the Huskies’ offense isn’t more capable than SJSU’s, yes?
If Portland State hadn’t won at WSU last year, maybe the Huskies would be more inclined to look past the Vikings, with their Pac-12 opener looming next week at Arizona. But I think PSU has UW’s full attention, and given the way the Huskies took care of business against lesser opponents in the first two weeks, there just isn’t really any reason to think they won’t on Saturday.
The pick: Washington 52, Portland State 17.