By 750 THE GAME STAFF
Each week our staff at 750 The Game and fellow Pac-12 experts predict the score of every Oregon Ducks game. This week the Ducks are in Las Vegas playing in the Pac-12 Championship game against the No. 3 Washington Huskies. The Vegas line has Oregon -9 1/2.
Oregon over Washington in the Pac-12 title game? Why wouldn’t I? The Ducks are the better team and will win the game.
Pick: Oregon -10
The Ducks have more balance across the lines of scrimmage: They generate more yards per play offensively than Washington and allow far fewer yards per play defensively. The Ducks are fresher, thanks to an extra day of rest: They whacked Oregon State on Friday night while UW went to the wire against Washington State on Saturday afternoon. And the Ducks possess the more efficient quarterback: Bo Nix has been brilliant lately, in a mind-meld with his tailbacks and receivers; meanwhile, UW’s Michael Penix Jr. hasn’t been as sharp late in the season as he was early.
The Ducks haven’t played a close game since the loss in Husky Stadium in the middle of October. If Friday night’s affair is tight in the fourth quarter, UW will have a deep well of experience upon which to draw — including two harrowing wins over Oregon in the past 55 weeks. That cannot be overlooked.
Oregon 34, Washington 28.
Oregon’s secondary has not fared well against Washington in the last two meetings. Dontae Manning had a great game against Oregon State with a pass breakup and an interception, but the Huskies’ wideouts (and quarterback) present a higher challenge. I wonder about the Ducks’ safeties as well, who have been up and down in coverage this season. Both units could be aided by the defensive line having its best game of the year. The key to slowing down the Huskies prolific offense is generating QB pressures, something that Penix is not as capable of running away from like Bo Nix.
I don’t have any qualms about the Oregon offense. They’ve scored at least 33 points in every game this season, though I would feel better as a Duck fan if they ran it for more than 140 yards as they did against the Beavs. Anything to keep Penix and Co. on the sideline as spectators is a tool that Oregon needs to have in its arsenal this week.
If the Ducks are able to get pressure on Penix to help out the secondary, that could go a long way in helping Oregon claim its first (real) Pac-12 Championship since 2019.
Oregon 38, Washington 27
The Ducks lost the first matchup with Washington in Seattle, but I always felt that the Ducks were the better team. Now the Ducks have improved since that game and Washington has played all close games since. Even against bad teams. The Ducks are an elite team. Vegas has made it be known that the Ducks are the second or third best team in the nation. One more win and Oregon is in the CFP and Bo Nix is the Heisman winner. The offense is always good but it’s the defense that has been elite. Washington has won games with their defense the past few. That won’t happen this week. I think Oregon dominates this game and it could get ugly.
Oregon 45, Washington 20
This feels like a spot where Oregon shows up big on the national stage. Dan Lanning’s Ducks have been relentless, focused, and without question belong among the country’s elite. Bo Nix is not a flashy quarterback, but he is the country’s best quarterback on what I think is a national championship contender. He wins the Heisman with a strong performance Friday night. But my eyes will more be drawn to the Ducks defensive line against the Huskies offensive line. Like Kayvon Thibodeaux in 2019 and 2020, can Brandon Dorlus or Jordan Burch dominate their matchups and make a big splash play or two to grab the game by the horns and let Oregon’s offense take over. Should that happen, this will be a coronation for the conference’s most successful program of the Pac-12 era in the last-ever Pac-12 Championship game.
Oregon 34, Washington 24