As the clock ticks closer and closer to the start of football season, we continue our pre-season game previews and predictions. We move on from the Beavers’ match-up with Utah and look forward to their next showdown with Washington.
Game 7: Washington
By the time game seven rolls around for Oregon State, it will be interesting to see where exactly the Beavers are. Will Oregon State be a sub .500 team, with lackluster wins to their name and struggling at the bottom of the conference? Or will the Beavers be the surprise team of the Pac-12, with possibly two impressive road wins at Minnesota and Colorado under their belt? For those answers, we’ll just have to wait and see.
But for now, as we look towards Oregon State’s third road trip of the season, the newly ranked #14 (AP) Washington Huskies are currently the first ranked opponent that the Beavers will see on their schedule and what a time to see them at. Just as the storylines will be prevalent at the mid-way point of Oregon State’s season, the endless stream of questions around this Huskies team should be flying as well.
The generous preseason ranking is an interesting notion for a Washington team coming off a rollercoaster 7-6 campaign in the second year of the Chris Petersen era, where the Huskies had only two impressive wins (@ USC, Washington State) and a bevy of close losses. Washington lost five games by 11 points or less in 2015, including falling to Boise State by three, California and Oregon by six, Utah by eleven and Arizona State by ten.
Like most teams, the Huskies’ expectation of success relies mostly on their quarterback play, where sophomore Jake Browning is by all media accounts, about to be the next big thing in the Pac-12. Browning threw for 2,955 yards during his freshman season, as well as posting 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. His progress in the off-season has the rising sophomore now named as one of the potential breakout stars in all of college football and with a wealth of returnees around him, that assessment may be accurate. The hype around the Huskies may be real.
While Washington does have some wrinkles to their offense like any team, the Huskies are usually a balanced type of offensive unit that doesn’t mind throwing the ball around the field or playing between the tackles. That kind of comfort and versatility has the potential to be both their biggest strength and their undoing. It’s been noted that despite a fairly strong line on both sides of the ball, the Huskies’ offense isn’t prolific when their timing is played with. That should be the goal of Oregon State’s defense in this one. Pressure bursts pipes mentality.
On offense, Oregon State will have to be able to get their playmakers into space and challenge a Washington defense that does lack some natural speed. The Huskies, under defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski have always been viewed as a “run-stop” first style of team, which may force Darell Garretson’s hand in this one to go out and try to win the game for the Beavers. The transfer quarterback will have to be on his top game if Oregon State wants to have a chance at the upset bid in this one.
Prediction: Whether Washington becomes the top fifteen type of team that they are expected to be or they flounder under the weight of expectations, the fact of the matter is that this is still a very talented Huskies team and the recent series history isn’t on Oregon State’s side. In the past three match-ups between these two schools, Washington has outscored Oregon State, 158-47, including last year’s 52-7 thrashing in Corvallis. Don’t be surprised if this one echoes a similar sentiment. Washington 49, Oregon State 20.