Churchill: Can The Huskies Beat The Ducks?
Last week I wrote that the Washington Huskies had a chance to head down to Palo Alto and beat the No. 5 Stanford Cardinal on the road. They did not pull out the victory, but they certainly had a shot.
Despite all of Stanford’s strengths, this Saturday will be an entirely different animal with which the Dawgs have to deal. The No. 2 Oregon Ducks come to Husky Stadium. They’re 5-0 and have manhandled each of their five previous opponents without breaking much of a sweat.
The Ducks are a complete blur offensively, averaging more than 59 points per game, despite the fact that they have pulled off the throttle after about three full quarters in every game thus far. To get those 59 points, Oregon is averaging 336 yards per game rushing and 295 yards passing for 630 yards total, second-best in the nation. They get 8.17 yards per play, third-best in the country, and their quarterback, Heisman Trophy candidate Marcus Mariota, has a 14-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio and nets more than 12 yards per rush attempt. The Ducks as a team are No. 2 in FBS in average yards per carry.
How in the world does any team hold down that offense enough to keep up with them on the scoreboard? Statistically, it’s impossible. There’s a reason they play the games anyway, as they say, and Justin Wilcox’s defense is darned near as stout as the Ducks’ offense is unstoppable.
Washington counters Oregon’s offensive prowess with a defense that ranks No. 11 in the country in scoring at 14.8 per game, and third in the nation in pass defense at 146 yards per contest. The Dawgs’ defense yields just 3.94 yards per play overall — less than half what the Ducks have been getting coming into this matchup.
Furthermore, this will undoubtedly be the best defense the Ducks have played all year, and it’s also the best offense the vistors’ defense will see until perhaps their bowl game and beyond.
Wednesday on The Steve Sandmeyer Show, John Canzano of Portland’s 750 AM and The Oregonian, says this year’s Ducks offense is the best he’s ever seen in 25 years covering college football. What about the Ducks’ defense?
It’s going to take the school’s best performance, perhaps since the Don James era, to come away with the win Saturday, but another stellar performance from the defense like the one put forth a week ago at Stanford — 279 total yards by the Cardinal offense — and anything is possible at home.
At least as long the special teams play is cleaned up and the incessant penalties are limited for the first time in 2013. The latter may be the most difficult task of all Saturday as the home team will enter the game as the most penalized team in all of the FBS.
– Jason A. Churchill, 1090 The Fan
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