The rivalry is on the mind as Oregon prepares to host the Washington Huskies at Autzen Stadium on Saturday. Each team is coming in with one loss on its record and is considered a favorite for the Pac-12 North, making the game crucial for both teams.
With Washington currently sitting at 7th in the AP Poll, it’s obvious that there is some serious talent on the roster. The Huskies have been dominant on both sides of the ball for the previous few seasons, and are now a very experienced team. This is probably the most talented team Oregon has faced this season, and there are plenty of guys who could potentially make an impact on Saturday.
It’s impossible to talk about the Huskies and not mention starting quarterback Jake Browning. He has been the full-time starter for his entire tenure with the program and has led the team to a 34-11 record with him behind center. He was a Heisman candidate in 2016 and helped lead the Huskies to a College Football Playoff appearance the same year.
This season has not been Browning’s best so far. Through six games, he only has 9 touchdowns to go along with 5 interceptions. Despite this, he has been as accurate as ever in throwing the football, with a stellar completion percentage of 66.9. He also hasn’t been afraid to run the ball, breaking into the end zone three times this season.
Washington’s senior linebacker has not only been the best defensive player on the team, but he’s also been one of the best defenders in the country. Burr-Kirven is currently tied for third in the country in total tackles with 74. He also ranks in the top three in the country in forced fumbles as well with three on the year. The only other Pac-12 player who is up there with him in forced fumbles is Oregon’s Justin Hollins.
Burr-Kirven’s signature game of the season so far came in Washington’s 27-20 win over Arizona State on September 22nd. He finished the game with 20 tackles, 14 of which were solo, and forced two of his three fumbles on the season. Oregon may have a tough time trying to get things rolling on offense with him on the field.
Gaskin has had arguably the best career of any running back in the history of Washington football. The senior is at the top of the career leaderboards for the Huskies in both rushing yards and touchdowns.
He’s had a solid year so far, but Gaskin’s statistics are a little behind his previous years. He currently is at a career low in rush yards per carry with 4.5. That overall isn’t a bad average, but as a career 5.7 yards per carry, it’s a bit of a disappointment for Gaskin. Oregon had its worst game of the season against the rush in its last game against Cal, so Gaskin could end up with a great performance on Saturday.
Washington’s leader on the defensive line has improved upon last season’s totals, a campaign in which he was honored with All-Pac-12 Second Team. At 6-foot-2, 320 pounds, Gaines is a massive defensive lineman. He will surely be one of the biggest focuses for Oregon’s offensive line this week.
After losing star lineman Vita Vea to the draft last season, Gaines has stepped up as the top player on the line. So far he has 21 total tackles on the year along with 2.0 sacks, both of which lead the defensive linemen.
Fuller has been Washington’s best receiver so far this season. He ranks in the top ten in the conference almost entirely across the board in receiving stats and is just outside the top ten in the entire country in receiving yards.
Oregon’s secondary dominated against Cal, but Fuller could potentially have a great performance. Browning is a far better quarterback than either one that Cal threw out against the Ducks, which will surely help Fuller in putting up big numbers.
Washington has shown pride over the last few seasons in having one of the better secondaries in college football. Murphy has been a prime example of the Huskies continuing that so far. Where he has dominated so far is breaking up passes. He’s number two in the conference in passes defended, while also ranking in the top 10 nationally.
Despite statistically being one of the best players in the country at defending the pass, Murphy doesn’t have an interception yet this season. He does, however, rank in the top five on the team in total tackles, and has forced a fumble. He’s been one of Washington’s best overall defensive players this season, Justin Herbert will surely think twice before throwing in his direction on Saturday.