The Oregon State Beavers keep the 2018 season going this week with a trip to Seattle to visit Jonathan Smith’s former team: the #18 7-3 Washington Huskies. Right behind Washington State in the Pac-12 North race, the Huskies are setting themselves up for an interesting Apple Cup game. But first, they have to get through the Beavs at home.
1. Is it a concern or a benefit for you that UW is coming off of a bye week?
It’s always a benefit to have two weeks to prepare for an opponent. UW got semi-screwed with the really late bye week, and they can definitely use the extra off-time to heal up some of their players, especially running backs Myles Gaskin & Salvon Ahmed. The Huskies really need to refocus on the final two games and try to save this season. I’m sure OSU fans don’t want to hear about how underwhelmed we all are with the team’s 7-3 record, but UW fans were expecting great things this season, and there is still time to make the 2018 campaign a success in the eyes of even the most critical Dawg fan. First order of business: Beat the Beavers.
2. UW is undefeated at home this year. How much does playing in Husky stadium factor into this game?
Husky Stadium is loud. The metal rafters over the stands direct the noise onto the field, and it can be really difficult for opposing offenses to hear themselves think, let alone hear a play call or audible. Playing at Husky Stadium is a pretty sizeable factor for this one, because if UW can get off to a good start, the crowd will be amped and make it tough on the Beavers to stick to a gameplan. If the Huskies get off to a slow start or struggle, the home cooking (noise) will allow them to stay fired up and help out the defense by causing miscues like false starts.
3. UW started the year as a top ten team. They’ve fallen back a couple spots after three losses, but how do you feel about how this season has gone so far?
Like I said above, Husky fans are not thrilled with the way the season has gone. Sure, we’ve been spoiled the past few seasons, but losing to Oregon because of a missed 37-yard field goal, and playing very poorly at Cal have compounded the frustration. The season began with a game against Auburn that the Huskies absolutely could have won. It’s been a cumulative effect, with each of the three losses seeming more devastating than the previous. Still though, take care of business against the Beavers, and play a solid game in the Apple Cup and the Huskies can be Pac-12 North Champs. Seems like no one really wants to win the South, so a Rose Bowl berth is a real possibility for this team.
4. Who are the top three names to watch on this team on either side of the ball?
Well, you have to start with quarterback Jake Browning, who has had an up and down year. He has made some great plays, but when faced with pressure has really struggled and been downright horrifying to watch. He needs to play well and not make any catastrophic mistakes. Wide Receiver Ty Jones has had a nice season, and the 6’4” pass catcher is Browning’s most dangerous weapon. He’s just a true sophomore and needs to continue to get stronger, but he comes down with some nice grabs.
On defense, UW has a lot of really good players, but middle linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven has stood out this year as an absolute tacking machine. He’s not the biggest guy and he will probably go undrafted next April, but he’s a real gamer who is always around the football. He hits extremely hard and makes play after play for the Husky defense.
5. Score prediction for this game?
The Huskies have not been blowing teams out this year, so I expect that trend to continue, at least for a while. The Beavers can lean on Jermar Jefferson and if the freshman can move the chains it will take some pressure off of the OSU defense. Ultimately though, Washington’s talent and depth will begin to wear Oregon St. down, and I see the Huskies pulling away in the second half. A lot of teams have put up big numbers against the Beavers this year, and eventually I think UW will too.
UW 42, OSU 20
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