For the first time since 2000, two top-10 teams will meet in Corvallis. Johnathan Smith’s Fiesta Bowl-bound team beat #8 Oregon that December before going on to steamroll Notre Dame. The Beavers have their work cut out for them to match that bowl appearance, but if they are going to get close it takes winning against an undefeated Washington team with one of the best quarterbacks in the nation at the helm.
The Beavers and Huskies share four common opponents this year: Cal, Arizona, Stanford, and Utah. Oregon State is 3-1 with a point differential of 68 against those four teams, while Washington is 4-0 with a 50-point advantage. Most notably, the Huskies gave up 28 points to Utah where OSU allowed only 7. The difference in record comes down to one additional Washington touchdown against Arizona, which was a one score game for both the Beavs and Huskies.
The two offenses get it done in different ways, but this game will likely come down to which defense can get the one extra stop or turnover in a back-and-forth game.
Beavers on Offense
Oregon State’s offense moves at a more deliberate pace than Washington has seen for much of the year. Thier defense has averaged 76 plays a game, while the Beavers have averaged 67 snaps on offense. Some of that reflects on the UW abandonment of the run game that has left the defense exposed a bit, but that has not been the case the last two weeks against Utah and USC.
The Huskies have given up less than 24 points just once in PAC-12 play and are averaging 28 points per game to conference opponents. They are weaker in the run game than the pass, which plays into the hands of the game Oregon State already wants to play.
LT #67 Joshua Gray vs EDGE #8 Bralen Trice
The junior edge rusher leads the Huskies with 54 pressures (29% of the team's total). Among those are 4 sacks, 12 QB hits, and 38 hurries. Trice is in the conversation as a first round pick in the upcoming NFL draft and will line up on both sides of the line of scrimmage. That being said he spends most of his time at ROLB and should see plenty of time against Joshua Gray.
Trice is at the level of Utah’s Jonah Ellis and UCLA’s Laiatu Latu, both of whom the Beaver offensive line has taken on earlier this year. Ellis was the more successful of the two (6 pressures and 2 sacks) but neither kept Oregon State from running the gameplan they wanted to run.
TE #88 Jack Velling vs S #7 Dominique Hampton
Hampton is the leading tackler for Washington with 69. He is in his 6th year at Washington and plays all over the field. Hampton will likely come into the box to load up against early Oregon State runs, which should give Uiagalelei and/or Chiles opportunities to find matchups with Velling down the middle of the field.
Velling has been arguably the Beavers best receiving weapon since the Cal game and is as good a vertical threat as OSU has. The run game will need to be the focus, but Oregon State is going to need a long Velling TD or two to keep pace with the Washington offense.
Beavers on Defense
Washington is clearly a pass first team, and it is not hard to see why. Michael Penix Jr. is a Heisman Trophy frontrunner, leads the nation in passing yards and is 4th in passing TDs. Twelve of his 28 touchdown passes are from outside the redzone. That aggressiveness is not saved for touchdown passes, 21% of all of Penix’s passing attempts are 20+ yards downfield. Washington will use play action on about a third of their passes, when they do they are even more likely to go deep.
They don’t have a big screen game, and although RB Dillon Johnson is averaging 5.8 yards per carry, they have forgotten about the run game at times this year. That has been corrected in their last two games against USC and Utah, when they have had 42 and 33 rushing attempts respectively. That change has allowed their offense to hold on to the ball for over 34 minutes in each of those games.
CB #4 Jaden Robinson vs WR #1 Rome Odunze
Odunze not only leads team with 1100 receiving yards (3rd in the nation), 59 catches (27th), 9 TDs (13th), he has a penchant for making spectacular catches when well covered. Along with fellow receiver Ja’Lynn Polk (55 catches, 943 yards, 8 TDs), the Huskies have perhaps the most talented receiving room in the country to pair up with Penix and his deep ball accuracy.
Jaden Robinson has been fantastic this year, but he will need to have his best game yet to keep the Huskies in check. Safety help is going to be in high demand to cover spread formations and help out Jermod McCoy and the rest of the secondary, and anytime Robinson is up against Odunze one-on-one, expect a throw in that direction.
EDGE #6 John McCartan vs LT #55 Troy Fautanu
Fautanu is a 5th year junior that anchors a one of the better offensive lines in the country. The Husky line was recently named a semifinalist for the Joe Moore award presented to the top offensive line unit in the country (Oregon State is a semifinalist as well). Fanatu himself is a fringe first round NFL draft talent that has built on his second team all-PAC-12 recognition last year. He has allowed the most pressures on the team with 16, three of them are sacks which also lead the team. A lot of that is volume, he is going against the best edge rushers on the other team (5 of his pressures allowed were last week against the Utah front 7).
The Oregon State pass rush has been at its best the last two weeks against the weak lines of Colorado and Stanford and McCartan has been a big part of that. The redshirt senior has racked up 7 pressures and 3 sacks in the last two games. Carrying that momentum into Saturday and not allowing Penix time to wait for downfield routes to develop will be key.