By: Matthew Zimmer
Oregon and Washington fans both seem to consider each other their rival more than their respective instate foes, Oregon State and Washington State. So, for clear and obvious reasons, we’re taking the rivalry that seriously as well.
There are way more than five things to watch, know, be aware of, etc. for this match-up, but I’ve whittled things down to five (but I also snuck in some nuggets where I could). I’m going to give you the history of the match-up, stats to keep an eye on, the quarterback breakdown, and how No. 12 Oregon and No. 25 Washington have fared against common opponents in 2019 to give you a definitive reason why Oregon will win this game.
Overall, in this rivalry, Washington has the edge at 60-46-5, according to Winsipedia.com, but since the Pac-12 realignment in 2011 the Ducks are 6-2 against the Huskies.
In Chris Peterson’s time at Washington, he has a losing record against just three Pac-12 schools. Arizona State (2-1), Oregon (2-3) and Stanford (2-4) who the Huskies just lost to on Oct. 6, 23-13.
The average margin of victory in Oregon’s three wins over Chris Peterson coached Washington teams is just over 11 points. Washington’s two wins were both blowouts; one in Mark Helfrich’s final season and the other in Willie Taggart’s lone season at Oregon.
The Ducks have the longest win streak in the history of the rivalry, and I’m sure you Duck fans know it well. From 2004 to 2015, Oregon ruled the roost over Washington. The Huskies longest streak is 6, which they’ve accomplished four times. The most recent six-game streak for Washington, however, was over 30 years ago, 1981-1986.
As mentioned in the intro, I’m focused solely on the 2019 season. When I dove into the stats for both teams, I found a few close comparisons, specifically on the offensive side, for the Ducks and Huskies.
- Points per game – UO: 36; UW: 36.4
- Rushing yards per game – UO: 176.8; UW: 178.7
- Passing yards per game – UO: 284.2; UW: 244.4
Now, passing yards I understand you might say 40 yards is a big difference. I’ll counter with, it takes one big play to get you 40 yards, so to me it’s small enough. The defensive side however really shows how much the Ducks defense has stepped up under Andy Avalos.
- Points allowed per game – UO: 8.7; UW: 19.6
- Passing yards allowed per game – UO: 160.2; UW: 216.9
- Rushing yards allowed per game – UO: 107.5; UW: 146.7
Now, rushing yards is nearly 40, so that’s still “small enough” but points per game and passing yards are huge when you look at who the opponent will be.
The Oregon offense is scoring 36 points a game, while giving up less than 10. Washington is scoring just as well, but giving up double what Oregon does defensively. The Ducks defense will be tested against the Huskies for the simple fact that Jacob Eason is better than Jacob Browning as a pure passer. There’s no debating that.
However, on the flip side, Washington is giving up nearly 220 yards of passing per game, and now they have to face a better quarterback than they’ve faced all season long. I’ll break this down deeper in the next section, but Justin Herbert is nearly equal to or is better than Eason in every statistical category with one full fewer game played.
One stat I personally pay a ton of attention to is, Points per Quarter vs. Opponents Points per Quarter. I think it tells the most about a team. Oregon is outscoring opponents in all four quarters — 1st: 49-19, 2nd: 59-6, 3rd: 66-10, 4th: 42-17. As for Washington, they are outscoring opponents an unprecedented 90-6 in the first quarter. However, they’ve been outscored 60-50 in the second. The Huskies outscore opponents 66-48 in the third and 49-23 in the fourth.
What this tells me is simple. Oregon is playing lock down defense through six games. Their opponents have not combined to score 20 points in a single quarter all year. The Huskies are a phenomenal first quarter team, but it goes down hill after the plays are no longer scripted. Overall, the Ducks are outscoring opponents 216-52, while Washington is at 255-137.
Now, I can hear Husky fans already. “We played different non-conference teams!” While, yes that is true, Oregon faced the toughest non-conference foe and only gave up 27 points to a team now ranked at No. 11, Auburn. Next argument. “We played Cal, Stanford, USC and Arizona in conference!” True, but Oregon also played Cal and Stanford, in the same manner (home/road), and Colorado is equivalent enough to Arizona, aka both are terrible. “We’ve played one extra game!” That one is true, too. However, Oregon would need to lose 85-39 in one game to drop to what the Huskies have done through seven weeks. *Mic Drop.
I started to give you a sneak peak at this, but Justin Herbert is every bit the quarterback we thought he’d be before the season started. Now, has he struggled at times? Sure. However, through six games he is better than Jacob Eason has been in seven games.
Both QBs have 134 completions. Herbert has 1602 yards, while Eason has 1692. So, in one extra game, Eason only has 90 more pass yards. Herbert also has the edge in the touchdowns to interceptions ratio. The Eugene native has 17 TDs to just one INT, while Eason has 13 TDs and three INTs.
The only interception Herbert threw was in the 17-7 win vs. Cal. Eason threw one in each of the Huskies losses vs. Cal and at Stanford, and one in the UW win at BYU.
The surprising thing to me was after Eason blew up against Eastern Washington (27-for-36 passing, 349 yards and four TD passes), he’s been just okay as a QB. Eason was the most efficient against BYU (24/28 passing), with his second highest yards (290) and tied for most TD passes (3). Against common opponents, which we’ll dive into bigger picture next section, Eason was terrible overall against Cal and Stanford.
For Herbert, he has thrown over 300 yards twice (vs. Nevada: 310 and vs. Montana: 316), and he threw five touchdowns in both those games. Herbert has thrown at least one TD in all six games, Eason has gone TD-less twice. Herbert hasn’t thrown for less than 214 yards this season, Eason has been held to 206 or less three times (vs. Cal, vs. USC, at Stanford).
Herbert has the edge against Eason, and to push the needle further in his favor, Herbert will go against a defense giving up nearly 217 yards per game through the air. Eason will face a defense averaging only 160.2 yards given up per game. Advantage Herbert.
Performance vs. Common Opponents
This section will be quick because you can see pretty easily in the box score the differences between how Oregon and Washington fared against Cal and Stanford.
In both cases, Cal traveled to play Oregon and Washington, while the Ducks and Huskies were on the farm when they faced Stanford. In both cases, Oregon won their match-ups while the Huskies lost both games.
Against the Cardinal, Herbert had his best completion day (19/24, 79.2 percent), while Eason had his worst completion performance (16/36, 44.4 percent) at Stanford.
The Huskies were outscored in every quarter, except the first, at Stanford eventually losing 23-13. Washington outscored Cal in the second and fourth, but the Golden Bears blew by Washington in the second 14-3 to help them win in Seattle 20-19.
The Ducks on the other outscored Cal and Stanford in seven of the eight quarters they played. Cal led Oregon 7-0 after the first, but Oregon responded with shutting out the Golden Bears in the final three quarters. On the road, at Stanford, the Ducks only allowed six points; three coming in each the first and fourth quarters.
Based on performances against their only common opponents so far, the Ducks have a clear edge. The defense of Oregon was the difference against Cal and Stanford, and it will be the X-factor against Washington on Saturday.
Why Oregon Will Win
The Oregon defense is much improved from a year ago, and they’ve backed up their improvement week-to-week. Justin Herbert is in a class well above Jacob Eason, and he’s going against an inferior defense so double-check for Herbert.
The biggest tell of this game will be the scoring per quarter. If Oregon is tied or outscores Washington in the first quarter–the Huskies best offensive quarter–the Ducks will win going away. If Oregon is leading at halftime, they will win. If the Huskies keep it close through three quarters, it will legitimately be a toss-up. That last one won’t happen, barring unforeseen things happening like injuries.
Oregon will make it two in a row over Washington under head coach Mario Cristobal.
Final: Oregon 38 – Washington 17.