Expert College Football Picks: Washington Huskies at Oregon Ducks
Washington Huskies at Oregon Ducks, Saturday Oct. 13, 3:30 p.m. ET
The last two meetings of these teams have been remembered fondly by Washington fans, and only in the nightmares and on the psychiatrist coaches of Oregon supporters. Two years ago, in Eugene, Jake Browning threw six touchdown passes, and the Huskies rolled to a 70-21 win - a score that has no business ever showing up in a Power 5 conference game of any kind, never mind one featuring two teams that have played in the Playoff. And while last year wasn't as outrageous, it was no more competitive - Washington won 38-3.
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Things are different now, though. Both teams are ranked - Washington is seventh, and Oregon sits 17th. For the former, that is very much expected, but Oregon is well ahead of even the most optimistic expectations. Washington still has playoff aspirations and could very much be in that picture as long as they don't lose again, though they will need help. For Oregon it's not about that, but rather about getting back on track after rapid coaching changes and general turmoil have set the program back. This is a big game.
Washington at Oregon Betting Storylines
Oregon has been a great story, clearly embracing Mario Cristobal's message after Willie Taggart bolted for Florida State after just one season. But it's all a bit of smoke and mirrors. They have played just one real team - Stanford - and they lost while allowing the Cardinal to score 38 points and pile up the yardage. The other four games have been against weak teams - Bowling Green. Portland State, San Jose State and Cal. And yet, against teams like that they still have a defense that has been problematic - and is particularly weak against the pass. Washington doesn't have the best offense in the country by any means, but with Browning and Myles Gaskin at the helm they have a relatively balanced and talented attack. This is the best team all-round that Oregon has faced so far, and it is tough to be particularly optimistic from where I am sitting.
This is going to be an interesting an important test for Oregon QB Justin Herbert. NFL scouts are drooling over this guy - he's huge, has a big arm, and has thrown efficiently while posting solid numbers. But Washington has a defense that is ranked fourth nationally in points allowed. Herbert is a quarterback who is capable of the big play, and that has factored into the success the team has had. But Washington has been very good at smothering wide receivers and shutting down big plays almost entirely. They are sixth nationally in yards allowed per passing attempt and have allowed only three touchdowns through the air all year. Herbert is going to have to shine in this one to give his team a chance, and this will be a huge test for him.
Chris Petersen is going to come into this one frustrated. His team beat winless UCLA last week, but it was much closer than it should have been, and the Bruins covered the spread. There were some issues in the game, and Petersen knows it. Few guys are any better than him at making adjustments and bouncing back from disappointments - the team is 10-3 ATS in their last 13 games following a failure to cover. There should be an extra bounce in the step of the Huskies.
Washington at Oregon Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Washington favored by 3.5, and it is still available there, though the key number of three is also available . About two-thirds of bets have been on the Ducks, so we should see three available more as game time approaches. The total opened at 58.5 and has fallen by a point in early action.
The Huskies are just 2-5 ATS in their last seven games overall and 1-5 ATS in their last six road games. Unfortunately, as bad as that is it is still better than the Ducks, who are 1-5 ATS in their last six overall and haven't covered in their last five at home. The favorite is 16-4-1 ATS in the last 21 meetings between the teams.
Washington at Oregon Predictions and Picks
I get nervous when I feel strongly about a game - especially when I am on a road favorite - but that is where I am at here. I trust Washington's defense and coaching, and I am not entirely convinced that the Ducks are ready for this step up in class. Herbert will have some issues, and scoring enough to keep up will be a problem. I like Washington by a touchdown or more here, which makes them a comfortable pick against the spread.
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