You may be asking yourself why I have Washington scoring 42 points- the most since week 2 against North Dakota and the most against an FBS team all year. The answer is that Oregon St’s defense is horrendous. It’s probably more accurate to compare the Huskies performance against an FCS defense than against any of the other Pac-12 opponents they have faced. Consider the point totals OSU has surrendered on the road this year: 77, 37, 38, 34, 48.
Per S&P+, OSU is the 128th ranked defense out of 130 teams in the country. They’re 130th against the run and 112th against the pass. They have allowed opponents to average more than 8 yards per carry in five of their 10 games, and have not held an FBS opponent under 5 yards per carry.
All things considered, the situation in Corvallis could be worse. They have built an above-average rush offense. They won a conference game against Colorado. They have reinforcements arriving via transfer who should help Jonathan Smith put his stamp on the program fairly quickly. This year is just the start of the rebuild, though, and it would be a gigantic disappointment if the Huskies even let them hang around.
Washington- 42, Oregon State- 13
Let’s be real for a second. There’s not a lot of suspense going into this one. Yes, Oregon State was able to come back to beat Colorado but the Beavers are not a good football team. Their offense is good enough to make the Huskies work for it but the defense should offer almost no resistance whatsoever.
The thing to watch will be if the offense looks noticeably better going against one of the worse defenses in college football. At this point there should be no excuses. Trey Adams will likely still be out and presumably Chico McClatcher is still away from the team but otherwise this offense is as healthy as it has been all season. If Washington struggles out of the gates and the receivers can’t earn any yards after catch we’ll know there’s something inherently wrong with this season’s offense.
Jermar Jefferson is the real deal and I expect he’ll average something close to his 6 yards per carry season average but that won’t be enough on its own for Oregon State to consistently move the ball. Jordan Miller is expected back in this game and so Shane Bowman will likely be the only defensive starter from the beginning of the year unavailable.
While it’d be nice to have a final score of 49-0 in this one my guess is that Coach Pete will let up the gas early in the 2nd half if it looks like things are getting out of hand. Both out of respect for Jonathan Smith and because he won’t want to risk injury or a starter getting a targeting call leading into the all-important Apple Cup. The Washington win is never in doubt but it’s closer than anyone would like.
Washington- 38, Oregon State- 17
I’m not going to mince my words here: Tomorrow’s game should be a bloodbath akin to the elevator scene from The Shining. If it’s not, it will only be because something (or more likely, a lot of things) will have gone very, very wrong for the Huskies.
It isn’t a stretch (or even remotely debatable) to say that the Beavers are by far the worst team the Dawgs will play in 2018. According to S&P+, Oregon State ranks 124th out of 130 FBS programs (and last among Power Five teams) and would be 17.5-point underdogs against a perfectly average college football team on a neutral playing field. While the Beavers have seen some positive developments on the offensive side of the ball during Jonathan Smith’s inaugural season as head coach — particularly at running back, where true freshman Jermar Jefferson offers a core around which Smith can build for future success — Oregon State’s defense is woeful on a historic scale, giving up an average of 7.49 yards per play. (That figure would have ranked last in the nation during the 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016 seasons, and second-to-last in 2017.) And while Washington has struggled to score touchdowns in the red zone all year long, the Beavers defense has been even worse, allowing 30 touchdowns in 40 opponent red zone drives in 2018.
As a result, I’m not interested in the outcome of this game so much as I am interested in what we learn in the time between the game’s opening and closing whistles. For example, will Hunter Bryant sit this game out, thus guaranteeing an additional year of redshirt eligibility? Will Trey Adams make his return to the field? Does Myles Gaskin look like he’s back to full strength following Washington’s late-season bye last week?
Finally, Aaron Fuller started this season on a tear — four 100-yard performances in his first six games — but has barely put up 150 total yards in the four games since. He should be able to get back on track against an Oregon State pass defense that yields 8.2 yards per attempt.
Washington 49, Oregon State 10
Straight Up: Washington- 3, Oregon State- 0
Against the Spread (UW -33.5)- Washington- 1, Oregon State- 2
Average Score: Washington- 43.0, Oregon State- 13.3