Oregon at Wash Preview
Seattle, WA - Oregon went into its bye week with plenty of momentum, but it remains to be seen whether it will have a healthy quarterback for its next game.
The No. 12 Ducks, off to their best Pac-10 start in eight years, visit Washington on Saturday, looking to win their sixth straight between the conference rivals.
Oddsmakers from online sports book SBGGLOBAL.com have made Oregon -10 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 63% of bets for this game have been placed on Oregon -10 (View College Football bet percentages).
After opening the season with a 19-8 loss to then-No. 14 Boise State and playing in two more tough non-conference games, Oregon (5-1, 3-0) has had little competition against league foes, outscoring them 118-19. The Ducks' last game - a 24-10 victory at UCLA on Oct. 10 - came with starting quarterback Jeremiah Masoli sidelined by a knee injury suffered the previous week.
Without Masoli, who practiced Monday and is day to day, the offense wasn't nearly as effective. Backup Nate Costa was 9 for 17 for 82 yards with one touchdown and one interception. After putting together back-to-back performances of more than 500 total offensive yards, Oregon was held to 303 yards and relied on defense and special teams to beat the Bruins. The Ducks returned a kickoff and an interception for touchdowns, scoring 21 points in the third quarter after being shut out in the first half.
"That's what our team does," coach Chip Kelly said. "They feed off each other. When somebody makes a big play, the other guys feed off that. These guys have a great attitude, a great chemistry right now. It's fun to be around them."
Kelly's team is looking to improve to 4-0 in Pac-10 play for the first time since opening the 2000 conference season with seven straight victories. Getting Masoli back would certainly help as the Ducks prepare for a much tougher schedule after facing the three bottom teams in the league standings.
Masoli has thrown for 369 yards and four touchdowns without an interception in his first two conference games. He's the team's second-leading rusher with 218 yards and has a team-high five rushing touchdowns.
Kelly said that he was happy with how Masoli looked in practice early in the week, but added that he has both quarterbacks preparing for Saturday.
"It feels better than last week for sure," Masoli said Monday. "Just the way I can put weight on it."
If the defense continues to be as efficient as it has been, whoever starts at quarterback Saturday will have some help. Oregon ranks in the top 25 of the Football Subdivision in scoring defense (16.3 points per game) and total yards allowed per game (280.8). It's also forced 16 turnovers.
"We've just continued to get better," Oregon defensive tackle Brandon Bair said. "With all the dings and dents we have on the defense, we still keep getting better. We have to. We can't keep having games this close."
Masoli made his Football Subdivision debut against Washington last year when Oregon's first two quarterbacks were injured. He threw for 126 yards and two touchdowns in the 44-10 win. The Ducks have won five straight over the Huskies, outscoring them 209-85.
Oregon has to play in Seattle, though, where the Huskies (3-4, 2-2) have won their last three, including a 16-13 victory over then-No. 3 Southern California on Sept. 19
Washington is looking to bounce back after suffering a 24-17 loss at Arizona State last Saturday. The Huskies gave up a 50-yard touchdown pass with five seconds remaining and have lost three of four since their stunning victory over the Trojans, with another loss coming in overtime to Notre Dame.
"We try and get ourselves prepared for what might occur, and that's human nature," coach Steve Sarkisian said. "And then when the game ended the way it did, I think that's why it's so heartbreaking, that's why it's so hard to take, because we didn't get ourselves prepared for that moment mentally."
Sarkisian has struggled to get the defense on track all season. Washington is ninth in the conference, allowing 424.6 yards per game and 27.9 points.
While their defense has struggled, the Huskies have one of the conference's best quarterbacks in Jake Locklear, who has thrown for a league-leading 1,702 yards and 11 touchdowns. Like Masoli, he's a duel threat, rushing for an average of 31.9 yards per game.
"I think Jake Locklear is the best quarterback in this league," Kelly said. "I've thought that for a long time. He's just a tremendous talent. ... He scares us more than anybody we've played against. ... He has our full attention."
Washington's last win over Oregon was a 42-10 victory at home in 2003. The Huskies are 31-18-4 against the Ducks in Seattle.
Posted: 10/21/09 1:05AM ET