Ducks Will Drown vs. No. 12 Washington in Pac-12 North Matchup

Rainman M.

Friday, November 3, 2017 2:55 PM UTC

Friday, Nov. 3, 2017 2:55 PM UTC

No. 12 Washington (7-1) hosts Pac-12 North Division rival Oregon (5-4) Saturday at 10 PM ET. The Huskies are favored by 17 points but had been at a much higher number.

Free NCAAF Pick: Washington -17Best Line Offered: Bookmaker

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Oregon Ducks at Washington Huskies

Oregon coach Willie Taggart has done everything to pretend that starting quarterback Justin Herbert might play vs. Washington after missing more than a month with a broken collarbone. Taggart's latest maneuver was to have Herbert practice with the first-team while the media was watching. Taggart's plan has forced the Huskies to prepare to play either Herbert or backup Braxton Burmeister. Taggart has also lured bettors with the prospect of an easy investment: the line opened at 26, but bettors have poured money and dropped the spread by 9 points.

A bet on Washington is partly a bet that Herbert will not play. He is physically capable of suiting up. But even if he were to play, he probably isn't ready to withstand tackles. The difference between Burmeister and Herbert is immense. Herbert's completion percentage 68, he averaged 10 yards per attempt and threw 9 touchdowns to 2 interceptions. The freshman Burmeister was going to redshirt this season. He averages less than 5 yards per attempt and has thrown 3 more interceptions than touchdowns. Herbert can throw. Burmeister cannot.

SBR oddsmakers have yet to come close to accounting for Herbert's significance. After his injury, the Ducks failed to cover their next 3 games, missing the cover by 21.5 points vs Washington State, 32 points vs Stanford and 11.5 points vs California. They outmatched a reeling Utah squad behind their rush attack last time out.

Whereas Utah's rush defense ranks towards the bottom of the Pac-12, Washington's is 2nd in the NCAA. UW allows 79 rush yards per game and 2.4 yards per carry. Oregon's offense consists entirely in its run game. But the Ducks won't be able to run against the Huskies, especially without a passing game to alleviate pressure off Royce Freeman, who has zero touchdowns in the four games since Herbert's injury. The Huskies' defensive line composes its strength on defense. Vita Vea boasts incredible speed and athleticism for a 340-pounder. Greg Gaines is statistically one of the best run-stoppers.

Oregon's defensive line is spearheaded by nose tackle Jordon Scott. He is physically talented, but freshman's lack of experience makes him inconsistent. Oregon's defensive line lacks depth, especially in terms of size.  Running back Myles Gaskin averages 6.1 yards per carry for the Huskies. He excels at wearing down opposing defensive lines, like that of Colorado, UCLA and Oregon, that struggle with size and depth.  The Huskies are 4-0 ATS when they run for more than 100 yards, and 0-3 ATS when they run for fewer than 100.

Quarterback Jake Browning will help Gaskin by exploiting a Ducks secondary that ranks 70th in opposing quarterback rating. The key defensive back for Browning to pick on will be freshman cornerback Thomas Graham Jr.  Browning is one of the Pac-12's most dangerous deep passers and speedy receiver Dante Pettis one of the best deep threats. 


The Verdict

Oregon is limited on offense without a decent passer against a superior run defense. The Huskies should wear down Oregon's defense with Gaskin and stretch them out vertically with Browning and Pettis.

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