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#8 Oregon Will Test Bite of Improved Huskies

Posted By Rob Parness On Nov 2 2011 @ 8:56 pm In Oregon | No Comments

Contrary to what geographic locations would indicate, the rivalry between the Washington Huskies and the Oregon Ducks far exceeds those of their respective in-state counterparts.

Though Washington has not beaten the Ducks in the past 7 seasons, that does not deter fans of the two sides from barking at each other (pun definitely intended).

However, this year Husky fans have more to be excited about as head coach Steve Sarkisian has rebuilt the program back to respectability and even had the Dawgs ranked earlier this season before losing at Stanford.

Washington (6-2, 4-1) has lost only twice this season and both of those teams are currently ranked in the top-10 of the BCS polls (Stanford and Nebraska). However, they have had trouble beating the likes of California, Hawaii and Eastern Washington, all games won by one score.

The Huskies have been led by two premier offensive players, quarterback Keith Price and running back Chris Polk.

Price ranks near the top of the nation in touchdown passes thrown (23) and Polk has rushed for over 1,000 yards already this season. Though they have not faced any good defensive teams this season outside of Stanford and Nebraska, those numbers should not be taken lightly.

Oregon’s defense is notorious for allowing a lot of yards because of the amount of time they spend on the field, but have proven to be surprisingly stingy in the red zone.

This week if they want to keep Washington in check they will have to play well on all levels, but focus on making life difficult for Price to complete passes to wide receivers Devin Aguilar and Jermaine Kearse. Both players have given the Ducks trouble in the past and getting a good pass rush on Price to force turnovers and hurried throws will help the Oregon secondary keep them under control.

Oregon (7-1, 5-0) will bring a powerful offense of their own into Husky Stadium on Saturday, headlined by running back LaMichael James.

After dislocating his elbow on October 6th against California, James missed 2 games before returning last week against Washington State. The returning Doak Walker Award winner and Heisman finalist looked rusty against the Cougars but should be 100% ready to go in Seattle.

The status of quarterback Darron Thomas is less certain.

Thomas is still recovering from a knee injury suffered against Arizona State that required him to miss one week of action. However, after being pulled after halftime in favor of freshman Bryan Bennett many wonder just how healthy Thomas is.

Many believe that Bennett may have won the job over Thomas due to his exceptional play in Thomas’ absence. Head coach Chip Kelly won’t reveal who the starter will be on Saturday night before kickoff, but if Thomas is healthy he will be in the Oregon backfield to start the game.

As far as the Huskies are concerned it may be the other Thomas that is more cause for concern.

True freshman De’Anthony Thomas has electrified the nation so far this year. He has accumulated 1,262 total yards this season so far as a running back, receiver and kick returner. Last week alone De. Thomas racked up 262 all-purpose yards, including a receiving touchdown and a 93-yard kickoff return for a score.

It will be important for the Ducks to be focused on the Huskies, unlike the rest of the country that is looking forward to next week’s Oregon vs. Stanford matchup. Washington is too good to overlook this season.

Oregon is more talented and experienced in nearly every facet of the game and that will be too difficult for the improved Huskies to overcome. Even with the raucous crowd that is sure to fill Husky Stadium Saturday night, the Ducks should walk away with a double-digit victory.

Prediction

Oregon: 45 Washington: 27

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