I mean, if you encompass the entire state of Oregon, we’re on a two-week run here of Oregon schools.
I don’t know if last Friday’s victory at home over the Beavers was “impressve” necessarily, but the Huskies really gutted one out in a weird game. Weird, first of all, that the Beavers were ranked in the Top 25 in the nation; when was the last time we saw that? I don’t care, so don’t answer me.
What are the Beavers nowadays? They used to be kind of interesting and frisky in the Dennis Erickson/Mike Riley eras, where they’d be good-to-mediocre, but every once in a while would spike and be pretty great. They hit a real low point in the mid-2010s, but have since been making slow and steady progress under ex-Chris Petersen OC Jonathan Smith. They went seven bowl-less years until 2021, but now they’re poised to go back-to-back, and heading into this contest, they were slated to make even more noise.
The Huskies managed to shut that down real quick. I’ll be honest, I was annoyed that the Beavers were ranked and we weren’t, even though we had the same overall record. Apparently, there can only be one, so after our 24-21 victory, we took their spot in the low 20’s.
The main reason to come away impressed by this come-from-behind victory is the fact that we 100% would have lost this game under Jimmy Lake. The Beavers never trailed in this one until there were 8 seconds left in the game. They went up 7-0 in the first, we tied it in the second. They took a 14-7 lead just before halftime, we tied it up midway through the third quarter. They went up 21-14 heading into the fourth, we tied it on the very next drive. Then, punts were exchanged until we got the ball back on our own 3 yard line with four and a half minutes left, where we proceeded to drive 92 yards – eating up almost all of the clock – while converting three 3rd downs. This was in a driving wind storm to boot, making even a gimme chip shot field goal no guarantee.
Now, we go to Oregon, the undefeated (in conference) leaders of the Pac-12. They’re in the top 10 in the nation, having only lost on the road to the consensus top team in the world, Georgia Bulldogs.
I’m not gonna sugar-coat it, this one looks pretty grim. 2017 was the last time we beat Oregon. 2016 was the last time we won IN Oregon (a delightful 70-21 romp that might have been the best television viewing experience of my life), but I would argue those were down years for Oregon. Certainly 2016 was, when they finished 4-8. Anyway, that appears to be just a blip on their overall record dating back decades now. They’ve owned us, plain and simple. And I can’t see that changing this week.
They’re 11th in rushing yards, 21st in passing yards. We are … exceedingly mediocre on defense overall, and frankly I don’t know what we’re worse at. Our secondary has fallen off a cliff with all the guys going pro last year. And our rush defense hasn’t been worth a damn since Vita Vea and Greg Gaines left us. We don’t get nearly enough of a pass rush to make up the difference against elite offenses, and make no mistake, this is the best offense in the conference we’re going up against. On the road, in one of the most hostile environments to play a football game.
Frankly, the Ducks being favored by 13.5 points feels low. I’d bet that in a heartbeat if I was a money-grubbing swine who had no morals or values.
What the Huskies have going for them is their own offense. If we had a defense that was remotely worth a damn, we could hang with this team. But, I’ll tell you exactly what’s going to happen, because I’ve seen it a thousand-million times in my life.
The Ducks are going to move through us like a hot knife through warm butter. Well, hang on, because first the Ducks are going to win the opening coin toss and they’re going to defer. The Huskies are going to immediately go 3 & Out and punt it away. Then, before you know it, it’ll be 7-0 Ducks. The Huskies will then proceed to start moving the ball, but they’ll stall in the red zone and have to settle for a field goal. The Ducks will then march right back down the field and take a 14-3 lead before the first quarter is done.
Maybe then, we pull it to within 14-10 and that’ll be the high point of our day. From there, the Ducks will go up 21-10, then they’ll generate a turnover. Maybe Penix forces one into coverage, it gets tipped, and they either bring it back to the house, or get it close. The Ducks will go up 28-10, force another punt, and put up a field goal just before halftime to go up 31-10.
The Ducks will be on cruise control in the second half, so offensive domination will give way to a more measured approach that both adds points to their total, while taking more time off the clock. I think the Ducks get to 48 points in this one, though if they really try, they could put up 60. The Huskies might even win the second half on a late garbage-time touchdown, but I don’t think it gets any closer than 48-31. That feels generous, because I’m picturing something in the range of 48-24, if I’m being honest.
Granted, the Huskies have at least been somewhat competitive in recent years against the Ducks, but that was when we were presenting a stout defense against them. We’ve already given up 40+ on the road to UCLA and ASU, though, so why shouldn’t the Ducks – easily better than both of those teams – do at least that much?
This is a good Ducks team. I hate to admit it, because I so desperately want us to kill them, but I’m not getting my hopes up. In my mind, we’ve already lost, and I’m moving on to the Buffaloes.
Frankly, I’m happy to have the distraction of moving, so I don’t have to watch this waking nightmare. I’m even happier to have the distraction of going to see the Smashing Pumpkins and Jane’s Addiction at Climate Pledge Arena later that night. No one should be forced to sit and watch the Huskies lose to the Ducks. It’s torture akin to the climax of A Clockwork Orange!