Can The Huskies Cover Against The Ducks?

I did one of these last week with the Seahawks and I still contend the smart money was to stay away. Going forward, I’m just going to go out on a limb and say the smart money is ALWAYS to stay away. Stay away from gambling entirely!

Okay, now that we’ve properly scared off the squares, let’s get down to it. As before, I’m only interested in football as far as it can hypothetically win me money this year. That means fantasy, and that means keeping an eye on the point spreads and testing my brain power on various lines.

Washington is hosting Oregon this week. Oregon is a 7-point favorite. The Huskies are 4-4 on the season, a collosal disappointment. Nevertheless, we’re 3-2 in conference play, and in theory, a victory over the Ducks would put us in a huge logjam of teams in the Pac-12 North with 2 conference losses.

Indeed, there are only two teams in the entire conference with fewer than 2 losses – the Ducks in the North and the Utes in the South – so it’s fair to say there really aren’t any dominant teams in this conference, and it’s pointless to get confident one way or the other about ANY of these teams, because literally anyone could beat anyone else on any given Saturday. Even if you look at the dregs – Colorado and Arizona – they are 3-5 and 4-4 against the spread, respectively (in spite of the fact that they have two total wins – including non-conference games – between them).

But, let’s face it, the Ducks are the 4th ranked team in the College Football Playoff Rankings for a reason. That reason is: they’re 7-1 and went on the road to defeat Ohio State. The Ducks’ only loss this year was on the road against Stanford – a team the Huskies just managed to handle last week – so I understand the desire by Husky fans to dismiss the Ducks.

What we’ve got going for us is: the game is at home. We’ve got a defense that’s in the upper eschelon in total yards and points given up per game. Of course, that has everything to do with our pass defense giving up the very fewest yards per game; our run defense is among the worst in college football.

The Ducks, clearly, run much more than they pass. They’re among the best rushing offenses in the game, and middle-of-the-road in passing. The Ducks, on defense, are middle-of-the-pack in rush defense, and slightly worse in pass defense (which would make sense, since they play from ahead so much and employ more of a prevent style late in games).

Weirdly enough, the Ducks haven’t shown up in a lot of these Pac-12 games. They easily handled the Wildcats and Buffaloes (again, the two worst teams in the conference), but could only eke out one-score victories against Cal and UCLA, with a one-score defeat coming to the Cardinal.

But, what can you say about Washington’s resume thus far? One-score victories against Cal, Arizona, and Stanford, with defeats coming on the road to Oregon State and at home to UCLA. The fact that we’ve managed to keep all of our conference games to within one score is irrelevant to me when you actually look at the numbers.

Oregon is great at running the ball; Washington struggles to stop the run. That’s all you need to know. Washington also struggles to run the ball, so if Oregon is smart, they’ll take that away from us completely and force Dylan Morris to beat them through the air. I would expect we’ll be down big in the early going, with the outside possibility of a late backdoor cover. At best, I think the Ducks win by 7 points, which would be a push. At worst, I think there’s no limit to how big the Ducks win by. There’s a non-zero chance the Huskies keep it close, but I think there’s no chance whatsoever that we win outright.

In this case, if you absolutely HAD to bet this game, I think it’s smarter just to bet the first half. Take the Ducks, lay the 3.5, and watch them get a comfortable halftime lead. Then, spend the second half either doubling down, or rooting for a Husky comeback. I don’t think you can lose in this scenario!

That is, until the Ducks ultimately prevail anyway, because they’re more talented and have better coaching. Really, the only way to lose as a Husky fan is to watch this game. Because fuck the Ducks. I’ll be looking for literally anything else to do during this time on Saturday.