EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — In the same way the number 12 will never be forgotten in the long history of the border rivalry between Washington and Oregon — as in 12 straight wins by the Ducks — so will the number 70.
As in 70 points. That’s the number of points Washington scored the last time it stepped foot inside Autzen Stadium in a 70-21 rout that won’t be soon forgotten in the upper left corner of the country.
The Ducks are a far better team than they were two years ago when the Huskies emphatically ended 12 years of misery. And there would be no better way for No. 17 Oregon to shake up the Pac-12 race than knocking off No. 7 Washington on Saturday.
Oregon (3-1, 1-1 Pac-12) already faltered once when it blew a 17-point halftime lead at home and lost 38-31 to Stanford in overtime last month. If the Ducks want to stay in the conference title race come November, a victory over the Huskies is a must.
“When you add that fact that it’s a rivalry, an extremely intense one, which everyone knows and no one can or should deny, I think that the motivation for that takes care of itself, in a positive way,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said. “And I think it’s a necessary aspect always to address with your players, which we have. They’re excited.”
Almost everything is working in favor of the Ducks. They’re at home where they’ve won 10 of the past 14 games against top 10 ranked teams. They’re coming off a bye week after winning at California two weeks ago. They’re motivated after being outscored 108-24 in the past two meetings against Washington.
And the Huskies are coming off a lackluster performance in a 31-24 win over UCLA last week that raised concerns about the state of their defense. Oregon’s offense is averaging more than 42 points with start QB Justin Herbert as the starter. Washington allowed 422 yards and 6.49 yards per play against UCLA, most of those coming in the second half. The Bruins were averaging 4.76 yards per play coming into the week, but had a bye before facing the Huskies.
Asked if having an extra week to get ready was a major benefit at this point of the season, Washington coach Chris Petersen didn’t hesitate.
“Yes. Tremendously. I mean, when you’re in the season and guys get rested up and coaches have all that time to watch stuff, it’s a help,” he said.
Here’s what else to know about the 106th meeting between the Ducks and Huskies:
PLAYOFF PLANS: If the Pac-12 wants a team in the College Football Playoff discussion at the end of the season, it probably needs a Washington victory this week. The Huskies have the far better nonconference resume than the Ducks, even if Oregon were to finish as a 12-1 conference champion. Although Colorado’s run in the Pac-12 South could add another team to the mix if the Buffaloes can remain unbeaten.
Oregon in 2014 and Washington in 2016 remain the only Pac-12 teams to make the playoff.
OREGON O vs. DAWGS D: The meeting pits the best defense in the Pac-12 (Washington) against the best offense (Oregon). The Ducks are leading the conference averaging 45.6 points per game and 503.6 yards. The Huskies are allowing a league-best 13.7 points per game and are second in yards per game allowed at 304.5.
Oregon has scored at least 30 points in eight of the past 10 games. Washington has allowed 30 or more points three times in the past 33 games.
JUSTIN AND JAKE: Two of the top quarterbacks on the West Coast will meet with Washington’s Jake Browning and Oregon’s Herbert facing off. Browning was responsible for eight total touchdowns — six passing, two running — two years ago at Oregon, not to mention his famous point at a Ducks player on his way into the end zone. This year Browning has played well for the most part, but has been inconsistent at times.
Herbert has thrown 12 first-half touchdowns against just one interception this year. He’s eighth in the country in passer rating (180.91) and fifth nationally averaging more than 16 yards per completion.
RUSH HOUR: Washington must get more from its pass rush. The Huskies have eight sacks through six games, which is good for a tie for 97th nationally. The bigger concern is six of the eight sacks have come from defensive backs pressuring on blitzes. The only two sacks from non-defensive backs belong to defensive tackle Greg Gaines and defensive end Shane Bowman — who is out with a foot injury.
Washington’s secondary is elite, but the Huskies can’t let Herbert stand around all afternoon.
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