The rivalry between Oregon and Washington is as fierce as ever. For starters, this rivalry has no name. It is known simply as “Hate Week,” and for good reason. The “Quooks” and “Doogs” both absolutely despise each other.
Saturday’s game will be the second-ever in which both teams will compete in a ranked matchup for consecutive years. (The first came in 2012 and 2013, with the Ducks winning both contests by a combined score of 97-45.) That being said, keep in mind that UW is 25th. Last week, they were unranked and trailing Arizona at halftime. Yes, they are dangerous, but the Huskies have their fair share of problems. Let’s unpack them.
Washington’s season so far
The Huskies opened 2019 with high expectations, snagging #13 in the AP Poll before beating Eastern Washington handily in their first game. Before Husky fans could finish clowning the Ducks for Couging it against Auburn, they found themselves losing to Cal at home in extremely ugly fashion. Despite some fans shouldering most of the blame for the loss onto the weather delay that caused the game to stretch well into Sunday morning, the Huskies lost to the other Bay Area opponent a few weeks later. In this second loss, UW mustered only 13 points and gave up nearly 300 passing yards to Stanford’s backup quarterback.
The recipe to beating UW has boiled down to slowing down the game and keeping Jacob Eason off the field. Cal and Stanford held Eason to QBRs of 26.6 and 24.0, respectively. Both teams limited UW’s output significantly, holding the Huskies to under 350 yards of total offense. While Cal struggled to show any offensive prowess until their final drive, Stanford’s offensive line helped running back Cameron Scarlett to 151 rushing yards on 33 carries. That O-line included three freshmen.
Onto vict’ry urge the heroes…
There is good and bad news to this approach for the Ducks. On the one hand, pounding the ball with the run game and physically dominating opposing offenses is the exact philosophy Mario Cristobal has been working to establish in Eugene. The bad news is that this isn’t how Duck fans like seeing their team play; we want to be wowed by the lightning-fast pace of play that struck the nation in the Chip Kelly era and see our first-round quarterback sling it all over the field.
But in reality, Oregon’s current identity is that of a physical, defensive team. The Ducks’ passing game will likely struggle without Jacob Breeland, and this is the perfect game for the offensive line to remind everyone that they are the best in the conference.
To summarize, Oregon’s keys to the game are:
- Run the ball to open up the passing game
- Limit big plays from Washington’s offense
- Control the line of scrimmage on defense
Oregon is favored by three. Last week, I wasn’t sure if the Ducks would be able to cover a three-score spread against Colorado, and they did easily. This week, I couldn’t care less about a spread. While I think the Ducks will cover it, even a one-point win will feel like a million bucks. The Ducks have strengths in places where Washington have shown weaknesses. Ducks 31, Huskies 24.
As this rivalry continues to resurrect itself, it’s worth noting that there is already a long history of this rivalry. The Civil War has taken a backseat to Hate Week in recent years, simply because the Beavers can’t really compete with the Ducks on the field right now. The Huskies can beat up on damn near everyone in the Pac-12, but they haven’t taken that next step to win big games on big stages. This Saturday presents Chris Petersen with a chance to do just that.
Don’t forget to check out the legendary Twitter feud that’s been brewing in the background.
As always, thanks for reading and feedback is embraced!