Washington (6-4, 3-4) at Oregon St. (6-4, 4-2) / Reser Stadium / 7:30 PM PST / ESPN2 / KEJO 1240 AM / KEX 1190 AM
Oregon St. hosts their Northwest neighbor Washington in the "Frustration Bowl" that could decide 3rd place in the Pac-12 North. Both teams are bowl eligible, so it's been a "good" season for both, and the winner will get into one of the conference's tie-in bowls, but the loser might find themselves campaigning for an at-large berth unless they win next week in their rivalry game, something neither was able to accomplish last season. That will be a particularly daunting task for Oregon St.
But its also a disappointing season for both, in that reasonable expectations in Corvallis and Seattle were for better, and both teams got off to good starts to the season, validating those hopes.
However, the Beavers have dropped 3 in a row, something the Huskies also did earlier this season, on their way to dropping 4 of their last 6. And both are coming in off tough road losses at the top two contenders for the Pac-12 South, Arizona St. and UCLA.
Injuries have been a factor in both teams' troubles, but so have mistakes, be they questionable play calling at critical times, special teams miscues, penalties, and turnovers. Responsibility for multiple losses for both teams rests moreso on themselves than their opponents. Hence, frustration, among players, coaches, fans, the media, and you name it.
It's also senior night for Oregon St., and the last time Rashaad Reynolds, Sean Martin, Mana Rosa, Devon Kell, Michael Philipp, Josh Andrews, Grant Enger, and Micah Hatfield will take to the field at Reser.
Add to that a certain degree of chippiness that has been a product of several closely and hotly contested recent installments in the series, and you have the making for a good old fashioned Beaver-Husky helmet knocker.
Oregon St.'s Sean Mannion will be looking to bounce back after throwing 7 interceptions in the Beavers' last 2 losses, after throwing only 3 in the first 8 games of the season. And to throw more than 1 touchdown, which he's done each of the last 2 weeks, after 31 in those earlier 8 games.
Brandin Cooks, who leads the nation in receiving yards, and is second in the country in catches and touchdown catches, and Connor Hamlett will need to be the main targets for Mannion, who still leads the nation in passing yards and touchdowns, but the lack of production by the rest of the receiving corp, which has been minus Kevin Cummings, who is out for the season since after the Stanford game, has been the problem for Oregon St.
Washington's Keith Price suffered an injury to his throwing shoulder just before halftime in last week's loss at UCLA. He didn't throw until Thursday, and Washington Coach Steve Sarkisian has held open all options on going with Price or Cyler Miles, who took over for Price at UCLA, but has never started a collegiate game. Who starts tonight will be a game time decision, based on what happens in warmups. A repeat of 2 years ago, when a dinged up Price didn't start (the last time he hasn't for the Huskies), but played in the second half, is a possibility. Especially if Miles struggles in his first collegiate start, as did Nick Montana, in what turned out to be a 38-21 win for the Beavers.
The Huskies are also finishing the season without a major target, Kasen Williams, who is also done for the year. Last week, freshman Damore'ea Stringfellow established himself as a replacement though, with a game high 8 catches, for 147 yards, reestablishing a 4th option beyond Jaydon Mickens, Kevin Smith, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
One thing Washington has going for it that Oregon St. hasn't been able to match is a premier rusher, as the Huskies' Bishop Sankey has hung in the top 5 in the country all season, and enters tonight's game #4 in the country, averaging 139.6 yards per game, while a 100 yard rushing game has been beyond the combined ability of the Beavers' Storm Woods and Terron Ward.
Oregon St.'s defense has been resurgent of late though, surpassing Washington's in some categtories, and is the other reason besides the uncertainty at the Huskies' quarterback position why the Beavers are 3 1/2 point favorites. The Huskies lead the conference in pass defense, but the Beavers are second best when counting only conference games.
The Las Vegas Bowl will have observers on hand today, given that both teams are on the short list of teams likely to land there.
The Huskies won 20-17 last season in a hard hitting game at Century Link Field in Seattle, as Mannion struggled to come back from a knee injury. But the Beavers have won the last 3 games at Reser Stadium, and 7 of 8 prior to last year.
Buildingthedam will be at the game, and back in the dark of the night with complete coverage and analysis, at least after finding some hot chocolate to recover from what could be the coldest contest ever conducted in the over a century old rivalry, a product of the 6th consecutive night game for Oregon St., on a November night with temperatures forecast to drop from around 40 for Beaver Walk to freezing by kickoff time, and into the 20s by the end of the game.