I’m beginning to be a little concerned about how the Huskies play on the road. UCLA really opened some eyes in the second half of that game last week. The Huskies looked solid enough in the first half, in racking up a 24-7 halftime lead. But, then shit just fell apart, and thankfully we were able to put up a touchdown drive in the second half to win it 31-24. Not the best showing from our defense.
Another solid game from Jake Browning, though! He had 265 yards passing, with a TD and an INT, as well as 49 yards rushing with another score on the ground. Yeah, there was a pick, but I’m not really focused on that. Browning has been gritty as hell lately, playing some STRONG football and I think he deserves to be commended as such. We’re gonna need everything out of him this week, so I hope he continues playing exactly as he’s been playing the last few weeks.
Gaskin had another monster game, running for 116 on 27 carries with 2 TDs. It looked like he was dealing with a shoulder issue towards the end of the game, but the dude’s a true warrior and wasn’t about to come off the field on that game-clinching TD drive. I’m a little concerned about his pro prospects at this point, as it feels like he’s being run into the ground a little bit here (he’s got games of 21, 27 and 30 carries so far this season), but as a Husky fan I’m glad he’s here and I wouldn’t trade him for anyone right now.
Defensively, what can you say about BBK that hasn’t already been said? Another 15 tackles in this one, as he was again all over the place. Taylor Rapp got his first pick of the season. But, you’re going to struggle when you get no pressure on the quarterback, and I’d say 0 sacks constitutes “no pressure”. Moreover, the lead back ran for 125 yards on 20 carries, so I’d say there’s a lot to clean up heading into Fuck Oregon Week.
The Ducks are 4-1 and 17th in both polls. The Huskies, conversely, jumped up to 7th in both polls. So, yeah, this is a pretty huge fucking game.
The Ducks have had an extra week to prepare, which seems like an oversight on the Pac-12’s part, but this conference is run by an incompetent boob, so what do you expect? We have the worst commissioner, we have the worst network (that isn’t even on DirecTV), we have THE WORST refs, we get no respect from our primary TV partner in ESPN, I’m sure we also have the worst TV deal among the power conferences; why wouldn’t we get saddled with the worst schedules? Other writers have been harping on this better than I ever could, but it doesn’t hurt to reiterate: Alabama would never be treated this way. Clemson wouldn’t be treated this way. The Big 10 wouldn’t treat their top teams this way. Yet, the Huskies have to play a night game on the road, then have to go back on the road the very next week against a ranked opponent; meanwhile the Ducks get a week off, then get this game at home. It’s a collosal load of horseshit and even worse, it’s self-sabotage by the Pac-12. The goal for every major conference should be getting as many teams into the big bowl games as possible, so you can bring in as much money to your conference as possible. Yet, the way the Pac-12 is run, it’s like they want NOBODY in those games!
I (obviously) hope the Huskies win this week. And, when it comes time to pick the Top 4 teams for the playoffs, I hope the committee recognizes our conference is run by morons and gives us a little extra boost in the rankings accordingly. No major conference team should have to be treated this way, yet the top Pac-12 teams are treated this way every fucking year.
All right, end of rant.
Oregon is good. They’re not as elite as they used to be, but they’re not too far away either. The scary thing is, we don’t really know how good they are, because their schedule has been pretty weak. They’re 4-1, but that includes 3 cupcake non-conference schools, a road victory over a now-unranked Cal Bears team, and a home loss to a now-unranked Stanford team. Considering the way Stanford has looked their last two games, as well as how Cal has looked recently, nothing about Oregon’s schedule strikes me as impressive in the slightest. The Huskies are the first good team they’ve played, and while they have the advantage in prep time, we don’t yet know if they have an advantage in actual talent.
I kept talking about how last week’s game reminded me of the ASU game from a year ago, but if I’m being honest, it more closely resembles this week. The only difference is that Oregon is much more highly ranked, but the conditions are the same. Last year, ASU had an extra week to prepare, and I think that ultimately gave them the edge. What the Huskies have going for them is that this is a rivalry game, whereas last year’s contest against the Sun Devils felt like a trap game. Also, this week’s game is at 12:30pm, as opposed to last year’s 7:30pm start time.
I just have to hope all this noise I’m obsessed with as a fan isn’t on the minds of the coaches and players this week. I feel that sort of shit gets in our heads sometimes and takes us out of the game. The fact of the matter is, the Huskies are the better team. But, they haven’t looked as good on the road and that matters. Also, as you would expect, the Ducks are really good on offense (30th in the nation in rushing yards, 25th in passing yards, 12th in scoring), so if our defense plays like they did against UCLA in the second half, we could be in big trouble.
The thing with the Ducks is, they’re soft. They can’t handle it when they’re punched in the mouth. That’s why Stanford always does so well against them. We’re more like Stanford than we are like Oregon, though I’d put us in that hybrid realm because unlike the Cardinal, we’ve got the type of elite speed to keep up with a team like the Ducks.
I’m having a hard time figuring out this game, though. The swirling scheduling issues, on top of this being on the road, makes me think it’ll be close one way or the other. It wouldn’t shock me if Oregon won, to be honest. I think Washington is the better team, but the better team doesn’t always win. It’s a long season, and it’s REALLY fucking hard to go undefeated in conference play. I think the Huskies will win 21-20, but I’m far from confident.