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 No. 9 Oregon Ducks (5-1) take on the Washington State Cougars (4-2) in Eugene from Autzen Stadium. The Vegas line has Oregon -20.5.
Washington State coach Jake Dickert told me his team needs to do a better job running the ball, particularly when opposing defenses are dropping eight defenders into coverage. I expect WSU will make a concerted effort to slow this game down, run more, and try to keep Oregon’s offense off the field. I’m not sold they’ll have much success, particularly at Autzen Stadium. The Ducks are guarding against an emotional letdown. Last season’s game vs WSU was a thriller. But I don’t see a repeat of that here.
Oregon 45, Washington State 20
The Ducks have won four in a row in the series, including a three-point thriller last year in Pullman. This looked like a high-level matchup until WSU dropped its past two games, to UCLA and Arizona, and looked bad in both. The offense has stalled out, with quarterback Cam Ward in a deep funk. Unless the Cougars find their September mojo, they stand little chance against Oregon’s balanced attack and talent at the line of scrimmage. Ward will be on the run all afternoon, with the Cougars playing from behind … far behind
I feel really confident in Oregon, not just because they’re at home. WSU allowed 242 rushing yards against Oregon State, I think Oregon could very well go for even more than that. I’ve also really liked what I’ve been hearing from the Oregon players and Dan Lanning after the loss. The emotional letdown after the UW game was always a possibility win or loss, but I see them avoiding that here.
Oregon 44, Washington State 20
I don’t think the Ducks have the emotional let down here. But I also think Cam Ward is really good. Oregon hasn’t faced a quarterback this season that can run like Ward. Even though Washington State has struggled badly in the last two games. I think the speed and decision-making of Ward will be huge early in the game. I expect Wazzu to get some points early. But ultimately the talent of Oregon pulls ahead late. Closer than the 20.5-point spread but still a somewhat easy win for the Ducks.
Oregon 40, Washington State 24
Autzen Stadium is one of the worst places to go for a struggling team trying to remember what once made it great. As long as Oregon plays sound defensively and doesn’t turn the ball over, this will be a comfortable afternoon. Like, Colorado comfortable? Maybe a touch more interesting than that blowout. Let’s just say “Shout” will be as much a celebration of victory as the ushering of the fourth quarter.
Oregon 37, Washington State 17