Man, all week, I've gone back and forth over this one. Based on talent, track record and momentum, it would be silly not to pick Oregon State to win this game.
Based on desperation, based on the stuff you can't measure on paper, based on how crazy a football can bounce sometimes, the Huskies would be a sound choice.
The aspect that I keep revisiting is one simple aspect of life: Loss.
Never mind what James Rodgers brought to a game - the receiving, the running and returning and how much the Beavers will have to replace that. They have players who can do similar things - collectively - as Rodgers.
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I'm trying to imagine how moribund Montlake would be the week if the team found out it was losing Jake Locker for the season because of an injury. I would gather practices would be difficult to get through. And a game? Man, how could it not impact the efficiency and energy.
For that, going purple over blue (or black, in Oregon State's case) in a high-scoring affair:
No. 24 OREGON STATE (3-2) at WASHINGTON (2-3)Kickoff: 7:15 p.m. PDT, Husky Stadium, Seattle.
TV: ESPN. Radio: 950-AM.
The series: UW leads, 57-33-2, but the Beavers have won the past six games, including a battering 48-21 win in Corvallis. It’s been Oregon State’s longest win streak in the series. At one point (1975-2003), the UW won 25 of 27 games against the Beavers. Its last triumph came in 2003, a 38-17 verdict.
What to watch: Can the Huskies shake their first-quarter blues? Aside from jumping out on Brigham Young in the season opener, the Huskies have allowed opponents to score first in the four games since – and have been outscored, 50-27, in the opening quarter. … How will the Beavers replace the dynamic James Rodgers (knee), who is out for the season? Markus Wheaton might not be as versatile, but he is a shifty, speedy receiver who can get loose on the “fly” sweep. Also, Jordan Bishop, Aaron Nichols and even Mount Tahoma product Geno Munoz will have to pick up the slack. … What is the UW’s quarterback situation for this game? It’s obvious Jake Locker (bruised leg) is hobbled and likely won’t be asked to run too much. If he takes the same amount of punishment as last year from the Beavers, there is a solid chance backup Keith Price could see playing time. Price has seen considerable work in practice this week.
What's at stake: It’s do-or-die time for the Huskies, who cannot afford to drop to 2-4 with road games remaining at Arizona, Oregon and California if they want to reach the postseason. Some already consider their bowl-bid chances shot anyway after last week’s loss to Arizona State. That bandwagon would fill up completely if the Beavers leave with a victory.
TNT pick: Huskies, 38-35
PRIME NUMBERSOREGON STATENo. Name (position) Height/Weight Year01 Jacquizz Rodgers (RB) 5-7/191 JuniorHis 159 yards last season continued five-year run of 100-yard games against Huskies.10 Lance Mitchell (SS) 6-2/207 JuniorA playmaker, he had a career-high 18 tackles in season opener against TCU.12 Ryan Katz (QB) 6-1/209 SophomoreQuickly rising in the Pac-10 ranks; reigning conference player of the week.78 Brennan Olander (DT) 6-1/276 SeniorEveryone knows Stephen Paea; but Olander has three sacks, too (and 51/2 TFL).87 Joe Halahuni (TE) 6-2/257 JuniorOrting grad’s only career multiple-touchdown game came last season against the UW.
WASHINGTONNo. Name (position) Height/Weight Year01 Chris Polk (RB) 5-11/214 SophomoreWhat more can he do to convince UW coaches to give him 20-plus carries.
15 Jermaine Kearse (WR) 6-2/205 JuniorFor a spotty offense, one plea – more touchdown catches than drops, please.
18 Marlion Barnett (TE) 6-2/215 FreshmanWith Chris Izbicki (back) hurt, he becomes of even greater importance to offense.
40 Mason Foster (OLB) 6-2/241 SeniorSteady and sure-handed, his worst tackling week was 10 tackles against Syracuse.
61 Gregory Christine (C/LG) 6-2/288 SeniorASU’s Vontaze Burfict in his dreams; OSU’s Stephen Paea could be in nightmares.