This is my third straight week previewing an Oregon game because the No. 2 Ducks have been involved in the final kickoff of the night in each of those weeks and are again Saturday night – you have my guarantee that this is the final time I touch UO for at least a while. I did hit on Oregon covering two games ago vs. Arizona (its only cover of 2012) and just missed last week vs. Washington State thanks to a late meaningless Cougars’ score. (Next week the last kickoff is midnight ET between New Mexico and Hawaii so that will be the preview.)
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Oregon has won eight straight games against Washington, the longest winning streak by either side in the series, by an average of 25 points. The closest result in that stretch was last year’s 34-17 victory (way “under” the 76.5 total). The Ducks forced three UW turnovers and sacked Washington QB Keith Price six times. Oregon’s LaMichael James had a big game, so current Ducks running backs Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas didn’t do much. Current Huskies QB Keith Price was 24-of-35 for 143 yards with two touchdowns and two picks.
Washington at Oregon Betting Storylines
The key guy in this game might not be wearing pads but a headset: Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox. UW had one of the nation’s worst defenses a year ago, so head coach Steve Sarkisian cleaned house on that side of the ball and lured Wilcox from his DC spot at Tennessee.
Wilcox appears to have improved that side of the ball dramatically. The Huskies are allowing 19.8 points per game, which is No. 33 in the nation and tied for fourth in the Pac-12 with Oregon (Washington allowed 35.9 last year). But if you throw out a 41-3 loss at LSU, UW is allowing just 12.7 ppg. Last Thursday in its 17-13 upset of Stanford, Washington held the then-No. 8 Cardinal to just 235 total yards and 65 rushing. By comparison, Stanford rushed for 446 yards vs. Washington in the 2011 meeting and had 202 rushing yards in its upset of then-No. 2 Southern Cal on Sept. 15. UW is allowing the fewest first downs per game in the Pac-12, 15 (23 last year).
It also must be noted that Washington has played just one road game so far and was blasted at LSU, with the Tigers rushing for 242 yards. But I will just throw this out there even though no players of substance remain from this game: Oregon’s worst offensive output since Chip Kelly took over as head coach was in Kelly’s first game: Sept. 3, 2009 at Boise State. The Ducks lost 19-8 in the infamous LeGarrette Blount punch game. Oregon managed only 152 yards and six first downs. Boise State’s defensive coordinator that day? Justin Wilcox.
To be fair, that BSU team had more defensive talent than the current Huskies. And when Oregon played against Wilcox’s Tennessee team in 2010, the Ducks put up 48 points and 447 yards of offense. By the way, no one has more ties to Oregon than Wilcox. He is the son of Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Dave Wilcox, a former star at Oregon. Justin Wilcox grew up on a farm about 25 minutes from Autzen Stadium, was a ball boy for UO games in the 1980s and later a Pac-10 all-academic defensive back for the Ducks.
To give Wilcox and Co. hope, the Ducks have been starting slowly of late. They led just 13-0 at the half against Arizona and turned the ball over three times overall. And last week, the Ducks were only up 23-19 at halftime against Washington State and turned it over two more times. Arizona and Wazzu have two of the Pac-12’s worst defenses.
In addition, Ducks QB Marcus Mariota has looked like a freshman at times the past few weeks, although, on the whole, he has been very good. Oregon is No. 4 in the nation in scoring (52.4 points), sixth in rushing (303.0) and seventh in total offense (550.6). UO has scored 30 or more points in 18 straight games, the second-longest streak in the FBS behind Oklahoma State (19). And the Ducks have scored at least 42 in their past eight, all wins.
Washington at Oregon Betting Odds and Trends
The Ducks are 24-point favorites, according to football odds, with the total at 65 on BookMaker. Washington is 2-2 ATS this season and 0-3 “over/under”. UO is 1-4 ATS and 2-2 O/U.
Washington is 1-4 ATS in its past five after a win. The Huskies are 0-5 ATS in their past five road games. Oregon has covered just two of its past 10 home games. The Ducks are 2-5 ATS in their past seven after a win. The under is 4-1 in Washington’s past five Pac-12 games. The over is 7-2 in Oregon’s past nine games overall. UW is 0-7-1 ATS in the past eight meetings.
College Football Picks: Washington at Oregon Predictions
Only two Pac-12 schools have dominated the Huskies since Sarkisian took over in 2009, and they are Stanford and Oregon. UW finally solved the Cardinal last time out. Can the Huskies do it again this week vs. Oregon? The extra few days to prepare won’t hurt for the Washington coaching staff. And under Sarkisian, UW does have two victories over Top-10 teams in seven tries. Maybe if this game were in Seattle, I would give the Huskies a chance to cover. But not in Eugene. It’s the Ducks and the over.
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