Oregon vs Washington State :The Pac-12 race is heating up and things could get interesting when No. 25 Washington State plays host to No. 12 Oregon at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Here’s how the Cougars and Ducks match-up.
Fresh off its overtime victory against Washington last week, Oregon must now travel to Pullman, Washington to take on another ranked foe in Washington State. The Ducks have no breathing room either in the Pac-12 North as each top team now holds one loss in conference.
With Cal and Oregon State opening Pac-12 play a combined 0-6, a four-way race for the division has broken out between Oregon, Washington, Washington State and Stanford. All four teams have just one loss to this point, but Stanford has the head-to-head tiebreaker with Oregon, who has the head-to-head tiebreaker with Washington. The division games between these teams carry a ton of weight for the end of the season, starting with Saturday afternoon in Pullman.
On top of being an incredibly important game, Saturday’s contest also features a pair of the top quarterbacks in the conference in Justin Herbert and Gardner Minshew II. Herbert is considered one of the top quarterback prospects in next year’s NFL Draft while Minshew II is thriving in Mike Leach’s system, averaging 403.7 yards per game.
Who takes ahold of the Pac-12 North on Saturday? Let’s find out.
Date: Saturday, Oct. 20 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Martin Stadium — Pullman, Washington
TV: FOX | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Oregon: Last week’s win against Washington sent a message: the Ducks are already back here in Year 1 of the Mario Cristobal era. Once the class of the league, Oregon has been looking up at Chris Petersen and David Shaw in recent years. After the heartbreaking loss to Stanford, the Ducks had to rally back against Washington to stay in the mix in the Pac-12 North, and after doing so now must follow that with one of the toughest environments for a ranked Pac-12 team. Look for Oregon to lean on its offensive line, a group honored this week as one of the best in the country by the Joe Moore Award, and a run game that’s starting to find its legs with freshman CJ Verdell (the first Ducks running back with 100 yards on the ground in his first three games since Byron Marshall in 2013). If the ground game gets going, they can control the tempo and avoid leaving the Ducks defense in a tough spot against Minshew.
Washington State: The Cougars have been right there with Washington, Stanford and Oregon in recent years, and this is shaping up to be the perfect opportunity to gain an edge in the Pac-12 North. Washington State has won 10 straight at home, and there’s every reason to believe Saturday afternoon at Martin Stadium will be one of the most electrifying places in the country at kickoff. So how does it happen on the field? Oregon has playmakers at all three levels on defense, so look for Minshew to end up relying on James Williams a lot. Williams has emerged as a great receiving threat out of the backfield and he’s got the ability to make guys miss, turning a check-down into an explosive play quickly.
Game prediction, picks
Mike Leach has owned this series recently, winning three straight against Oregon. When you factor in the body-blow theory coming off a physical overtime win against Washington, it’s tough not to side with that home field advantage and a Washington State team that beat both USC and Stanford at home last season. Pick: Washington State -0.5