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Gameday: Here’s how Oregon and Washington stack up



It’ll be tough to gauge which Washington team will show up on Saturday in Eugene when the two teams face off in this classic rivalry. After underperforming during its non-conference schedule and barely squeaking by teams like Hawaii and Eastern Washington (defeating those teams by a combined eight points), the Huskies found a bit of traction in their last few games and are sitting at 5-1 after overwhelming Cal in a 31-7 victory last week in Berkeley, California.

On the flip side, Oregon is finally feeling confident up front and much of that has to do with the return of Jake Fisher at left tackle. With Fisher back, the Ducks’ rushing attack amounted for 259 yards and Marcus Mariota wasn’t sacked in last week’s game at UCLA.

Here’s how both teams stack up:

Offense

Oregon: Something looked familiar on Saturday. It became clear that Oregon’s offensive line had taken a step back following the first two Pac-12 games when Marcus Mariota was sacked a combined 12 times and the Ducks couldn’t find a consistent threat on the ground. However, Jake Fisher’s presence last Saturday quickly set aside any of those concerns, at least for the time being. Oregon had a running back eclipse the 100-yard mark for the first time this season in Pasadena, California and Mariota was never sacked. Forty-two points later. Oregon had put together its best offensive showing in conference play and had used a recipe perfectly geared toward its game plan. As offensive coordinator Scott Frost said: when Oregon runs the ball they’re hard to stop. It only makes things easier for Mariota, too.

Washington: Washington quarterback Cyler Miles is coming off the best game of his college career. Passing for 273 yards and three touchdowns, Miles led the Huskies to a convincing 31-7 win over Cal for its first Pac-12 victory of the season. The sophomore continues to progress during his first year as a starter and his ratio of nine touchdowns to zero interceptions shows how careful he has been with the ball. Complementing Miles in the backfield is Lavon Coleman, who stepped in for now Tennessee Titan Bishop Sankey, who is averaging 4.4 yards per carry. Although not making the transition seamless, providing Washington with a clear threat to face Oregon’s suspect rushing defense.

Advantage: Oregon

Defense

Oregon: The stat sheet may not have indicated it, but Oregon played one of its more complete games on defense last Saturday. Despite giving up 20 points in the 4th quarter and allowing 328 yards rushing, the Ducks contained Brett Hundley through the air, forced two turnovers that led to 15 points and had only given up 10 points to the Bruins for over 55 minutes of the game. However, regardless of whether or not they looked impressed, the unit’s ability to become consistent week in and week out and minimize the big plays will remain a question.

Washington:  Led by linebacker Shaq Thompson, a two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week, Washington ranks fourth in the Pac-12 in total defense. Allowing teams 392.2 yards of offense per game, the Huskies matchup with the Ducks’ offense will make for an interesting game on Saturday. Thompson, following his 100-yard touchdown return following a fumble recovery, now has four defensive touchdowns and is looking like one of the best defenders in the nation. Elsewhere, outside linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha had three sacks last week against Cal. His 10 total sacks leads the NCAA Division I. The Huskies’ defensive unit as a whole has 24.

Advantage:Washington

Follow Justin Wise on Twitter @JustinFWise

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Justin Wise

Justin Wise

Justin Wise is the senior sports editor at the Emerald. He also works as the Oregon campus correspondent for SI Campus Rush. He can be reached at [email protected]