A question has surfaced all week: What WOULD it take for the Huskies to pull off the upset of all upsets Saturday at No. 1 Oregon?
Thought about it.
Discussed it with Groz on 710-AM ESPN today.
I circled three things that heavy underdogs have to do just to be in position to win.
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1, Turnovers: Not much hope here; the UW is last in the Pacific-10 Conference with 10.
2, How about a spark from the special teams: Well, again, not a lot to work with - the Huskies are dead-last in kickoff and punt return average.
3, Run defense: Conventional wisdom from other coaches is to slow down the Ducks offense, stop the run game first - and force Darron Thomas to pass (which is still a pretty formidable task to defend, too). The Huskies give up 212.1 yards per game on the ground, ranking ninth in the league.
So ... no, I'm not picking the Huskies:
Washington (3-5, 2-3 Pac-10) at No. 1 Oregon (8-0, 4-0)
Kickoff: 12:36 p.m. PDT, Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Ore.
TV: ABC. Radio: 950-AM.
The series: UW leads, 58-39-5, but the Ducks have won the past six meetings, including 43-19 last season in Seattle. The Huskies’ last triumph at Autzen Stadium was 42-14 in 2002.
What to watch: How in the world can the UW defense possibly keep up? Tempo-wise, since Oregon runs four no-huddle plays in less than a minute, the Huskies will need to have a substitution plan by the series. Scoring-wise, they’re going to give up points. They need to force at least three turnovers to give their offense a chance. … Will the UW offensive line play better? First off, putting senior Cody Habben back with the starters was a wise move. Secondly, the pressure of protecting a hobbled Jake Locker (rib) should be gone since it’s now a healthier and more mobile Keith Price at the helm. … What will Price provide that Locker didn’t in the past month? The zone-read option run should be fully utilized today (6-8 times).
What’s at stake: Not many but a few mothers of the UW players are expecting this to be much of a game. Oregon must win to keep its BCS national title game hopes alive. A UW loss, and it falls to 3-6 – meaning each following game is a must-win to become bowl eligible.
TNT pick: Ducks, 60-28.
PRIME NUMBERSWashingtonNo. Name (position) Ht./Wt. Year01 Chris Polk (RB) 5-11/214 SophomoreLast week’s 17-yard rushing effort against Stanford was career-low day.08 Nate Williams (SS) 6-0/215 SeniorLongtime starter played like a rookie last week; expect bounce-back outing.15 Jermaine Kearse (WR) 6-2/205 JuniorBig day (at least 110 yards), and Lakes grad will eclipse 2,000 for career.71 Coby Habben (RT) 6-6/290 SeniorThree-game benching seems to have lit a fire under the three-year starter.92 Everrette Thompson (DE) 6-6/244 JuniorHas tendency to get sucked inside on fakes; needs to show better discipline.
OregonNo. Name (position) Ht./Wt. Year01 Darron Thomas (QB) 6-3/212 SophomoreQuiet leader gives offense something it’s recently lacked – deep ball.13 Cliff Harris (CB) 5-11/180 SophomoreBit of a renegade – and a playmaker, too (four defensive/special teams TDs).21 LaMichael James (RB) 5-9/185 SophomorePart of three scoring plays of 70 yards or longer this season; scary dude.55 Casey Matthews (MLB) 6-2/235 SeniorIf Keith Price telegraphs his throws, he’s fast enough to pounce for a pick.68 C.E. Kaiser (RG) 6-4/290 SeniorSpokane product’s 29 starts lead very experienced and good offensive line.