Washington Huskies

Pac-12 movement in the AP Top 25 Poll

Pac-12 movement in the AP Top 25 Poll

After losing to Utah, 32-25, Oregon (6-3, 3-4 Pac-12) remains unranked in the latest AP Top 25 poll. The victory sent the Utes up to No. 21.

Two more Pac-12 teams rose in the rankings. Washington State moved up two spots to No. 8 after beating Colorado 31-7. The 9-1 Cougars jumped No. 9 Ohio State, who beat Michigan State on Saturday.

No. 17 Washington, who enjoyed its bye week, also moved up three spots.

Oregon's final home game vs. Arizona State will kickoff at 7:30 p.m.

Ducks lose starting LT Penei Sewell for six weeks

Ducks lose starting LT Penei Sewell for six weeks

From an offical press release from Oregon:

True freshman offensive lineman Penei Sewell will miss approximately six weeks due to a high ankle injury suffered in last weekend’s win over Washington, head coach Mario Cristobal announced on Tuesday morning. 

“Penei is a relentless competitor and I have no doubt he’ll return better than ever,” said Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal.

Sewell started the first six games at left tackle for the Ducks and is currently ranked the No. 6 tackle in the nation, according to Pro Football Focus.  The Saint George, Utah, native was the first Oregon true freshman to start along the offensive line in a season opener since 1997.

On the depth chart behind Sewell is junior George Moore. However, Oregon's offensive line prides itself on the versatility that each player can play multiple positions. When Sewell and Dallas Warmack (stinger, will return)  went down in the Washington game, backups Brady Aiello and Jacob Capra filled in at tackle and guard. 

Best and Worst from Oregon’s win vs. Washington

Best and Worst from Oregon’s win vs. Washington

The good certainly outweighed the bad in Oregon’s 30-27 upset overtime victory against then No. 7 Washington. The No. 12 Ducks kept their Pac-12 title and Rose Bowl hopes alive, but that’s not all… Check out the best and the worst from Saturday.

[READ: Victory proves it pays dividends to buy Cristobal's "Oregon Football 2.0"]

BEST

Herbert becoming a Duck Legend: Quarterback Justin Herbert passed Dan Fouts (5,871) for ninth all-time in career total offense at Oregon.
 He has the most career passing yards (5,532) through 23 career games, besting Marcus Mariota (5,496).
 Herbert also proved he shines in big games. In six career games against ranked teams, he is completing 68.5 percent of his passes for 1,509 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Mitchell is streaking: Wide receiver Dillon Mitchell is the only Pac-12 player with three consecutive 100-yard receiving games this season. Over the last three games, Herbert’s go-to receiver has 29 receptions for 463 yards and two touchdowns.

Here comes Verdell: Redshirt freshman running back CJ Verdell has been named the Pac-12 Conference Offensive Player of the Week and is officially listed as Oregon’s starting running back after scoring the winning touchdown in overtime. Verdell finished with 29 carries for 111 yards and two touchdowns, becoming the first Duck to run over 100 yards in the first three Pac-12 game since Byron Marshall in 2013. Last week, I wrote about why former Duck LaMichael James thinks Verdell will be the next great Oregon running back.

Third down, no problem: Oregon leads the Pac-12 and ranks eighth in the nation in third down conversion percentage (51.7). The Ducks also converted on all three of their fourth down attempts against the Huskies.

Justin “TFL” Hollins: Outside linebacker Justin Hollins has 13.5 tackles for loss in his last 10 games. He has at least a share of a tackle for loss in 10 straight games.

Big men up front: Jalen Jelks leads Pac-12 defensive linemen with 31 tackles. Jordon Scott tallied three tackles and one tackle for loss in the win. Austin Faoliu finished with four tackles and 0.5 against Washington.

Linebackers come up big: Saturday was Troy Dye’s second straight game with double-digit tackles (10). Dye leads the team with 45 tackles. Redshirt freshman Isaac Slade-Matautia made a career-high six tackles. Kaulana Apelu has at least five tackles in all six games this season, and his 7 tackles and 0.5 sacks against Washington moved him to second on team in tackles (37) and tackles for loss (5.0).

Rising in the polls: Oregon moved up five spots to No. 12 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 Poll. The Ducks landed at No. 11 in the Amway Coaches Poll, up six spots from a week ago.

Autzen Advantage: With the victory over Washington, Oregon has won 11 of its last 15 games against Top 10 opponents in Autzen Stadium. The Ducks have won 24 of its last 27 games at home when nationally ranked.


Flash back to 2014: Some comparisons could be made to 2014 when Oregon made it to the first ever College Football Playoff. The Ducks are off to their first 5-1 start and 2-1 Pac-12 start since 2014.
 Also, the Ducks knocked off ranked teams in back-to-back games for the first time since 2014 when they beat Arizona in the Pac-12 Championship Game and Florida State in the Rose Bowl.

WORST

Special teams blunders: Adam Stack missed a 42-yard field goal in the fourth quarter and Tony Brooks-James fumbled a kickoff return that turned into a Washington touchdown.

Injuries: Offensive linemen Dallas Warmack(stinger) and Penei Sewell(ankle) both sustained injuries against Washington. According to Cristobal on Monday, Warmack has been cleared and they're still unsure about Sewell. Cristobal also said backup quarterback Braxton Burmeister (knee) is ready to play this week, but running back Darrian Felix (foot) might be another week or two away.

Ducks soar in AP Poll after upsetting Washington

Ducks soar in AP Poll after upsetting Washington

The Ducks (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12) moved up from No. 17 to No.12 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll, after upsetting then No. 7 Washington at home, 30-27. The Huskies fell to No. 15. 

The win put the Ducks back in the Pac-12 North Division race. If Oregon wins out and defeats the Pac-12 South division champion for the title, UO could be headed to the Rose Bowl. 

Also, the victory proves it pays dividends to buy stock in Cristobal's "Oregon Football 2.0". 

By the way, College Game Day selects Oregon vs. Washington State and is headed to Pullman, Wash. for the first time ever. The Cougars move into the AP Top 25 at No. 25. 

In the Pac-12: UCLA got Chip Kelly his first victory with the Bruins 37-7 win against Cal. 

Around the nation: Then No. 13 LSU knocked off then No. 2 Georgia 36-16 to capture a signature victory for coach Ed Orgeron. No. 5 Notre Dame, No. 9 Texas and No. 10 UCF all escaped with narrow victories. 

Victory proves it pays dividends to buy Cristobal's "Oregon Football 2.0"

Victory proves it pays dividends to buy Cristobal's "Oregon Football 2.0"

Autzen Stadium erupted with 58,691 screaming fans as redshirt freshman CJ Verdell barreled into the end zone in overtime to score, upsetting rival No. 7 Washington 30-27.

"That's what a rivalry game is supposed to be like, right?” said Oregon coach Mario Cristobal with a smile to open UO’s press conference.

In a game that was tied four times, Oregon (2-1 in Pac-12) improved to its first 5-1 start since 2014 and kept its Pac-12 Conference title hopes alive.

"I've been here for a lot of games,” said quarterback Justin Herbert. “I think that's one of the best experiences that I have been a part of."

Here is how it unfolded. Washington (5-2, 4-1 Pac-12) missed a field goal on the final play of regulation, after Cristobal called two timeouts to ice the Husky kicker.

Oregon’s defense, which was in UW quarterback Jake Browning’s face all day, held the Huskies to a field goal to open overtime.
Then the Ducks put the ball in Verdell’s hands.

Reminder, this is the second time Oregon went to overtime with the No. 7 team in the nation. In their conference opener, Verdell had a key fumble late in the game in Oregon’s loss to Stanford.

Alas, Verdell rushed twice for a gain of nine yards before a holding call put Oregon in a third-and-11 hole. Herbert converted the first down with a 17-yard completion to his go to receiver, Dillon Mitchell. The victory was sealed when Verdell busted through for the touchdown.

"Coach Cristobal just told us we were a downhill team, and we were going to keep running downhill," said Verdell. "I was just glad coaches put the trust in me to run the ball, and we executed it.
He took a breath and then added, "Man, that whole was big."

Cristobal says that if Verdell didn’t get into the end zone on that last play, the plan was to go for it on fourth down for the win. Not a bad plan, considering Oregon was three-for-three in converting fourth downs and leads the conference with a 51 percent third down conversion rate.

Cristobal’s trust in Verdell paid off and so did the team’s faith in Cristobal.

The Oregon football program bought into Cristobal’s physical “Oregon Football 2.0” approach back in January. In October, the dividends showed as the Ducks literally pushed past a rival that embarrassed them, 70-21, just two seasons ago.

It started with gains in the weight room in the offseason, led by strength and conditioning coach Aaron Feld who is so full of energy, his handlebar mustache probably powers the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex’s electricity. The linemen beefed up, Herbert added 20 pounds, and winning the battle in the trenches became priority number one. A team once known for its speed, changed its style of football to be disciplined and physical. 

“Player development has taken on a new level,” said Cristobal. “You see knockback, you see physicality, you see guys finishing blocks downfield.”

A perfect example of Oregon Football 2.0 is exemplified in Verdell’s valuable performance against the top defense in the conference.

The offensive line owned the line of scrimmage against a Washington team that led the conference in scoring defense and have not allowed more than 35 points in 51 games. The victory in the trenches allowed Verdell to get the tough yards, he averaged 3.9 yards per carry on a career-high 29 carries, 111 yards and two touchdowns. It marked his fourth game Verdell has rushed for more than 100 yards.  

Those hard earned yards paid off when the offensive line parted UW’s defense for Verdell to score the game-winning touchdown. Verdell and fellow running back Travis Dye nicknamed UO’s offensive line “Moses”, because they can part the red sea. Oregon's line aided the Ducks to rush for 177 yards against the Huskies. 

They also protected Herbert, holding UW to two tackles for loss, while Oregon’s defense racked up five tackles for loss. Herbert finished the game 18-of-32 for 202 yards and two touchdowns.

It was Herbert’s first win against Washington and after a brief two-year losing streak, Oregon can reclaim the Border War bragging rights. More importantly, the Ducks can rest easy knowing that they were right to put their money where The Cristo-ball is.

Oregon is due and Washington stands in the way

Oregon is due and Washington stands in the way

Seattle tight end Ed Dickson can't afford to have No. 17 Oregon lose to No. 7 Washington on Saturday afternoon at Autzen Stadium. The ribbing the former Ducks star would receive would be relentless in the Seahawks' locker room. 

"I'm surrounded by Huskies," Dickson said while sitting at his locker in the Seahawks' practice facility.  

Seattle has four former Washington players on the roster, including fellow tight ends Will Dissly and Darrell Daniels. But Dickson isn't worried. 

"I think the Ducks are going to win by 10 points," he said. 

Wait, what? Oregon, the team that lost to Washington 38-3 last year and 70-21 in 2016, is going to knock off the favored Huskies? That's a combined score of 108-24 worth of beat down over two seasons. 

Actually. Come think of it. I might have to ride with Dickson on this one.

Here is why...

I'd been pretty much convinced that Oregon (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12) would lose to Washington for a third consecutive year in 2018 ever since the 2017 game ended in Seattle. The Huskies, with quarterback Jake Browning, have simply been too overwhelming for Oregon to believe that the Ducks were going to close the gap until after Browning, a senior, moves on. 

Nothing that Oregon had done to date this season swayed my opinion, not even the Ducks' strong showing two weeks ago against Stanford (4-2, 2-1). At the time, losing 38-31 in overtime to the Cardinal in a game that Oregon controlled until the very end of regulation seemed like a strong statement that the Ducks were at least a threat in the Pac-12 North Division. Stanford was ranked No. 7. It had defeated the Ducks 49-7 last year in Stanford. The gap had been closed. 

But since that heartbreaking loss, the Cardinal has been demolished twice. It was one thing for Stanford to lose 38-17 at No. 5 Notre Dame (6-0), but watching the Cardinal get rocked 40-21 at home by Utah (3-2, 1-2) completely took the shine off of Oregon's performance against Stanford. 

The Cardinal went from a top 10 team that Oregon almost defeated to an unranked team that the Ducks blew a 24-7 lead against to lose at home. 

That's not a good look. However, there is another side to all of this. 

Statistically, this matchup is a wash. You have the top offense in the conference (Oregon) going against the top defense (Washington) with the Ducks having a pretty solid defense and the Huskies sporting the same on offense. 

Matchup wise, this game is a wash. Plus, there is a good argument to be made that Oregon would have at the very least made things interesting at Washington last year had quarterback Justin Herbert not been out with a broken collarbone. Oregon, despite no passing game whatsoever with true freshman quarterback Braxton Burmeister running the offense, rushed for 247 yards on the Huskies. Give Herbert 200 yards rushing against any team and he is going to have a chance to win the game. 

That brings us back to Saturday. This Oregon team is a year older and better than last year, and has a healthy Herbert in the lineup. Washington is not nearly as dominant as many had expected it would be. The Huskies just narrowly defeated struggling UCLA (0-5, 0-2) 31-24 on the road. The Bruins put up 422 yards on Washington's defense. 

But I digress. That's all numbers salad. Saturday's game isn't going to come down to numbers. As previously stated, this game is going to be determined by which team wins the battle of good fortune, and that team will be Oregon. 

The Ducks lost to Stanford because of some bad mojo. Wide receiver Jaylon Redd was about to give Oregon a 31-7 lead in the third quarter but while heading into the end zone kicked the left front corner pylon, which meant he was out of bounds at that moment. No worries. Oregon still had the ball at the one-yard line. A touchdown would come next.

Or, maybe not.

On first down, a bad handoff exchange between Herbert and running back Cyrus Habibi-Likio resulted in a nine-yard loss to the 10. Two plays later, a bad snap went over Herbert's head and was recovered by Stanford and returned 80 yards for a touchdown. Bad snaps happen. Bad snaps resulting in long touchdown returns by the defense rarely ever happen. 

That sequence has to go down as one of the most bizarre reversals of fortune in the history of that stadium. Even after that disaster, Oregon led 31-28 with a chance to run out the clock before redshirt freshman running back C.J. Verdell was stripped of the ball with under a minute remaining. Stanford tied the game with a field goal and won it in overtime.

After the game, the armchair quarterbacks had a field day dissecting what coach Mario Cristobal should have done differently to prevent the defeat. But that's all noise. Sometimes bad luck takes over and nothing can deter the inevitable.   

That's what happened to Oregon against Saturday and all of that amazing misfortune won't happen again. At least, not to the Ducks. 

Saturday's game is going to be fun, intense and back-and-forth with wild ebbs and flows. And in the end, the Ducks are going to make that one play that swings good fortune in their direction, and they will win 33-30. 

At that moment, the stakes for a 5-1 Oregon team will reach a level not experienced since 2014. 

Ducks swagged out in yellow vs. Washington

Ducks swagged out in yellow vs. Washington

The Ducks will be swagged out in traditional yellow and chrome for Saturday’s rivalry game between No. 17 Oregon and No. 7 Washington (5-1, 3-0 Pac-12).

The winged helmets are back and the jerseys feature a new large "Mighty Oregon" font. The jerseys are more simple than years past. Fans are encouraged to wear green for the 12:30 p.m. kickoff.  

The outcome will have major Pac-12 North Division implications. Washington is still the front-runner in the North and a College Football Playoff contender, while Oregon (4-1, 1-1) is 1 ½ games from the lead, a victory against the Huskies would put the Ducks back in the race.

In case you missed it, Ducks' message to fans: Make Autzen the loudest it has ever been

MORE DUCKS:

LaMichael James says the Ducks have a dog of their own

8 numbers to know: Oregon vs. Washington rivalry

Surprises and disappointments in Oregon's freshman class

Oregon basketball coach Dana Altman responds to pay-to-play allegations

Mailbag: Will Herbert come back next season?

Cristobal could earn a major bonus at Oregon; 2018-19 salaries released

Mailbag: Are there weak links on the Washington defense?

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US Presswire

Mailbag: Are there weak links on the Washington defense?

Every week I answer five of your best questions on Twitter and Instagram.

Saturday’s rivalry game will be a showdown between the Pac-12’s best offense (Oregon) and best defense (Washington). The outcome between No. 17 Oregon and No.7 Washington will have major Pac-12 North Division implications. Let’s get to your questions…

 

QUESTION: Which Huskies are the most dangerous on defense?

To say Washington’s defense is dangerous would be an understatement. UW leads the conference in scoring defense, allowing only 13.7 points per game. They have not allowed more than 35 points in 50 games. Two Dawgs to watch out for:

Linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven is tied third nationally with 74 tackles through six games, just 10 tackles off of last year's total. The senior also ranks in the top three in the country in forced fumbles with three. Last season, Duck fans may remember when Burr-Kirven forced a fumble to begin the game that led to UW’s opening field goal. He’s dangerous in pass coverage as well as stopping the downhill run.

Safety Taylor Rapp is another threat to the Ducks. He leads the Huskies with four sacks and is a major presence against the pass. He dove for an interception last week at UCLA, providing the kind of play that can be difference-making against Oregon. He is a major reason why the Huskies pass defense ranks sixth nationally in yards allowed per attempt (5.4).

 

QUESTION: What’s the status for CJ Verdell on Saturday?

Oregon’s bye week came at a perfect time, giving some rest to injured starters and key backups. Running back CJ Verdell is back at full speed after experiencing an “MCL scare” and not playing in the 4th quarter at Cal. Cristobal said he could have returned to play in that game if needed.

Verdell is taking first team reps this week. I wrote about how Verdell has impressed former Oregon running back, LaMichael James.

 

QUESTION: What part of the UW defense will the Ducks look to exploit the most?

That’s a very tough question. You might not like the answer because there aren’t glaring weak links on UW’s defense. However the Ducks have two things going their way against one of the toughest defenses in the nation.

1. Quarterback Justin Herbert. If anyone can thrown on a pass defense that ranks 6th in the nation in allowing only 5.4 yards per attempt… It’s Herbert, who also ranks 6th in the nation in yards per attempt (10.4).


2. Washington’s defense is coming off an uncharacteristically bad performance, specifically in the second half, against UCLA. The Husky defense allowed a season high in points (24) and yards (422) to the Bruins. UW didn’t record a sack and UCLA converted seven of its 10 third-down plays in the second half. There could be some self-doubt creeping in from that closer-than-expected victory.

 

QUESTION: Can Oregon still win the Pac-12 North Division?

I wrote a full article about this, here. Short answer… Yes.

 

QUESTION: What is your prediction?

This is going to be a great matchup that I could see going either way. However, the bye week and home field advantage play a factor in this rivalry.

I think we will see Herbert ball out and get that signature win that will cement him as an Oregon legend. Washington’s secondary hasn’t faced an elite quarterback and gave up 300 yards to UCLA’s freshman quarterback. Oregon’s healthy defense has fresh legs and UW quarterback Jake Browning and running back Myles Gaskin haven’t looked their best yet this season.

Prediction: Oregon beats Washington, 35-31

 

MORE DUCKS:

LaMichael James says the Ducks have a dog of their own

8 numbers to know: Oregon vs. Washington rivalry

Ducks' message to fans: Make Autzen the loudest it has ever been

Surprises and disappointments in Oregon's freshman class

Oregon basketball coach Dana Altman responds to pay-to-play allegations

Cristobal could earn a major bonus at Oregon; 2018-19 salaries released

What They're Saying: Duck, Duck, Lose

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NBCSNW

What They're Saying: Duck, Duck, Lose

A Top-25 matchup. No. 7 at No. 17. An I-5 rivalry between the Washington Huskies and Oregon Ducks. Two fanbases that strongly dislike one another. This should be fun. And the chatter on Twitter is ever-present as well:

Remember that time Washington QB Jake Browning looked back and pointed at Oregon linebacker Jimmie Swain in 2016 as he ran into the endzone? Yeah, so do a lot of Huskies fans:

Even former Washington wide reeiver John Ross III (now with the Cincinnati Bengals) weighed in on #DuckSeason:

Of course, the biggest factor in beating Oregon is limiting QB Justin Herbert. This game features the Pac-12's best offense (Oregon) vs. the Pac-12's best defense (Washington):

 

Game Information:

No. 7 Washington at No. 17 Oregon; Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR; Kickoff time 12:30 PM (PT); Line: WASH -3.5