By T.J. Mathewson
Contributor, 750 The Game
As I wrote Monday…. the two-game season starts now.
4:30 ABC window., College Gameday snub, the final game against UW as a member of the Pac-12, Senior Day, Heisman contender in town. Every conceivable way to pump more juice into the game has been used to its’ fullest extent. With a win on Saturday, the Beavers will vault themselves into the CFP top ten, putting themselves into prime position for a NY6 Bowl Game and a trip to the Pac-12 Championship, while a Husky win entrenches the Huskies in the top four, two wins away from the program’s second-ever appearance in the College Football Playoff. Does that sound enticing enough for you?
The Huskies’ final two opponents already defeated the Huskies once this week (in the courtroom), and there’s plenty of reason to believe the Beavers can do so again on Saturday. To start, it’s not like Washington has been blowing the doors off their opposition. The Huskies have now played six games in a row decided by 10 points or less, including games against lowly Arizona State and Stanford. Are the Huskies at their best when the game is close late? Probably, but that leaves a door open for the Beavers to spring a trap in Corvallis if Washington wants to play it close. Let’s see how the Beavers can get that done:
1. Take advantage of the gaffs
If the Beavers want to make a real dent against this high-flying Washington offense, they’ll want to look at what Brian Ward and his Arizona State defense did to Washington on October 21st. The Sun Devils threw a variety of pressures at Michael Penix and managed to turn the Huskies over four times while holding them without an offensive touchdown for the first time in 49 games. Now, Oregon State would hope to score more than seven points off those four turnovers, which is all ASU managed in a 15-7 loss. Washington was also able to dodge a late pair of red zone turnovers against Stanford the week prior, to no (losing) harm. For a team that prides itself on playing well in close games, turnovers make it nearly impossible to do so against better competition.
2. It’s on the defensive backs
It’s going to be extremely difficult for the Oregon State defensive backs to hang with these Washington wide receivers. We’re talking about a potential first-round pick in Rome Odunze, and two more all-conference caliber receivers in Ja’Lynn Polk and Jalen McMillen. The Beavers are going to lean on not only Jaden Robinson and Ryan Cooper Jr., but also true freshman Jermod McCoy and perhaps even deeper onto the depth chart with names like Noble Thomas and Andre Jordan, who saw more playing time against Stanford on Saturday. Not only do the Huskies throw it a lot (about 60 percent of the time), but they’ll spread it out and force the Beavers to load up the defensive backfield. It’s crucial that Oregon State gets some wins on the outside if they want a chance to suppress the Husky attack
3. A treat matchup in the trenches
Huskies pass-rusher Bralen Trice has been amongst the best pass-rushers in the country flying off the edge. He doesn’t have the sack numbers (3.0), but in terms of generating pressure on the quarterback, he has been elite. PFF grades him as the second-best edge defender (87.3) in the Pac-12. What a treat it is that he gets to go up against the two top-rated tackles by PFF in week 11, Joshua Gray (91.6) and Taliese Fuaga (91.4). Oregon State is going to keep Trice off balance by hammering the rock and keep the star DE moving backward instead of forward, though don’t kid yourself, the Beavers have to be able to pass the ball to win the game. Trice has shown he can disrupt a passing attack, and in change, disport the game for the Oregon State offense.
The Beavers are 16-1 in their last 17 home games in the last three seasons and winners of 9 in a row in Reser Stadium. Why should that stop now? The energy at Reser Stadium on Saturday will be unique, emotional, and fully charged. I expect the Beavers to come out at full speed. This is an elite team at home, and the results on Saturday will show it. Give me the Beavers in a close one.
Oregon State 33 Washington 30