The Washington Huskies are coming off of a hard-fought 31-24 win over the UCLA Bruins at Rose Bowl Stadium last weekend.
Senior running back Myles Gaskin did not disappoint and controlled the game on the ground with 116 yards on 27 carries and 2 TD’s.
This week, the Huskies have their big showdown game with their archrival the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium.
“I get the history. I get it as well as anybody, from my background. But I also think it seems like every week is just a huge game to us, like everyone’s got us circled and all those type of things. So that’s why we just concentrate on ourselves. That’s just our M.O., it’s like, OK, what’s this offense, what’s this defense, what’s this special-teams look like? How do we solve this? And it’s just about us bringing the right energy and preparing correctly.” Head Coach Chris Petersen said about the rivalry earlier this week.
The last time the Huskies played at Autzen Stadium, the game was a rout as they put up 70-points on the Ducks.
Oregon has been playing well under first year coach Mario Cristobal and come into the contest with a 4-1 record.
Something has to give in this game as the Ducks have the #1 offense in the Pac-12 conference and the Huskies have the #1 defense in the conference themselves.
This may be the game of the year in the Pac-12 Conference as the winner of this game will likely make it to the Pac-12 Championship from the North Division.
Here are some keys to the game that the Huskies must do in order to put themselves in a good position to win this game…..
Get Off To A Fast Start
Make no mistake, the Oregon Ducks have had this game circled on their schedule for months, and they have not forgotten the game from 2016. The Ducks are coming off of the benefit of a bye week with rested players and an extra week of game planning. They will try to figuratively punch the Huskies in the mouth early and they must whether the storm. It is imperative for the Huskies to get off to a fast start in any way they can. Whether it’s a long sustaining touchdown drive or a forced three and out on defense, the Huskies must set the tone early and try to take that hostile and raucous Duck crowd out of it early.
Limit Oregon’s Third Down Conversions
In order to have success against an explosive offense like Oregon, the Huskies must be able to regularly get off the field on third downs. Allowing talented QB Justin Herbert to extend drives and keep scoring opportunities alive is a recipe for disaster while playing on the road. It will be crucial for the Huskies defense to be somewhat fresh in the 4th quarter and have some fuel left in the tank. Stopping Oregon on third downs will do that and give them the valuable rest they will need along the way. This single aspect right here may be one of the biggest factors if the Huskies want a victorious outcome.
Take Advantage Of One-On-One Matchups
It’s no secret that the heart and soul of the Husky offense is senior running back Myles Gaskin. He is what makes the whole thing go and the Ducks know that. Oregon will try to stack the box and shutdown Gaskin and the rushing attack of the Huskies. If they load the box, then quarterback Jake Browning must take advantage downfield with the one-on-one coverage matchups he will get. Wide receivers Aaron Fuller and Ty Jones have proven that they can make some big plays when called upon this season. Browning will have to take some shots down the field which in turn will open up the running game.
Bring Some New Wrinkles Of Their Own
Everyone is talking about how the Ducks have had an extra week to game plan for the Huskies because of their bye week. While Cristobal will surely have some wrinkles in store for the Huskies, coach Petersen will most likely have some of his own. The Husky coaches understand the significance of this game and they probably have saved some things in the offseason specifically for this game. Petersen is the master of introducing “trick plays” at the right time and in a momentum game like this they could prove timely. The Huskies hired Petersen to turn the tides on this rivalry and beat Oregon regularly.
Win The Field Position Battle
While it’s not always a sexy option to punt the ball and pin down an opponent, the Huskies have the luxury of using this to their advantage. The Huskies boast one of the most elite defenses in the entire country. Instead of forcing something on 3rd and 13 or 4th and 2 on offense, the better choice is to play field position and punt the ball to the 5 yard line. By making an explosive offense like Oregon have to drive the length of the field on a regular basis against that vaunted Husky defense, it can become tiresome. Sometimes these types of games come down to simple things like good field position!