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Washington vs. Oregon: Preview, Prop Pick and Prediction

The Pac-12 is not going away quietly.

In its final season as we know it, the conference boasts a top-to-bottom strength not seen in years, and its College Football Playoff qualification process ramps up on Saturday in Seattle.

The Ducks and Huskies enter with identical 5-0 records, and matching 2-0 marks in conference play.

The similarities don’t end there.

These offenses rank first and second in yards per game with Washington at 569.4 and Oregon close behind at 555.8.

Both are leaving for the Big Ten beginning next season and have starting quarterbacks headed to the NFL.

Oregon’s Bo Nix and Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. are among leaders in the nation in nearly all passing metrics, ranking among the top five in passing efficiency.

Penix is tied for third with 16 touchdown passes and Nix has 15.

Nix leads the nation in completion percentage (80.4 percent) while Penix Jr. leads the nation in passing yards per game – by a wide margin (his 399.8 standard dwarfs the second-place QB mark of 336.67).

Oregon aims for revenge after dropping a 37-34 heartbreaker in Eugene, Ore., last season.

Is there betting value on the underdog Ducks? The offenses appear to be a statistical dead heat, but one team’s defense could very well make the difference.

We have news, trends and quotes – along with our game prediction.

–Kickoff: 3:30, ET
–Television: ABC
–Location: Husky Stadium, Seattle.
–Point Spread, Total: Washington -3, Total 67.5

THE NEWS
Washington standout receiver Rome Odunze is one of the very best in the country.

Fellow Huskies wideout Jalen McMillan is expected to return after missing the past two games with a leg injury suffered at Michigan State.

Odunze appeared to injure his midsection while recovering an onside kick Sept. 30 at Arizona, but UW offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb said Odunze is “ready to go.”

Two starters in Oregon’s secondary, cornerback Khyree Jackson and safety Bryan Addison, are also expected back after getting banged up Sept. 30 at Stanford.

The QB talent can’t be overstated.

Penix, who threw for 408 yards with two touchdowns at Oregon in last year’s win over the Ducks, is the current Heisman frontrunner at +200, while Nix is the No. 3 betting favorite at +600, according to the latest odds from BetMGM.

Last year’s Heisman winner, USC’s Caleb Williams, is second at +225.

Ducks coach Dan Lanning, who coached Georgia’s defense when the Bulldogs won a national title, said he’s never seen a conference with the quarterback talent the Pac-12 has this season.

“I think it’s really impressive. There’s great quarterback play in this league right now,” Lanning said. “And we’re going to see all of them. So this is certainly, I think, one of the best, if not the best, that we’ve seen so far.”

QUICK PICK
The point total is approaching 70. Before you shake it off, the number seems realistic with the nation’s No. 2 and 3 scoring offenses (Oregon, 51.6 ppg.; Washington, 46.0).

But is the Ducks’ defense being overlooked or entirely discredited?

Oregon has won its past two games by identical 42-6 scores over Colorado and Stanford, and is sixth among D-I schools in total defense, allowing only 255 yards per game.

The Ducks are also tied with Ohio State for ninth in first downs allowed, while Washington is outside the top 50 in both categories.

In the Huskies’ two most recent games, against California and Arizona, Washington has allowed 56 points. In that Arizona game, Penix Jr. was forced to take shorter throws as the Wildcats dropped their secondary deep to avoid being beaten over the top.

That blueprint has been closely scrutinized by Oregon’s defensive coaches, who need no reminders about the 37-34 loss to Washington in 2022.

If these prolific offenses neutralize each other, the difference might well become the Oregon defense, and we’re willing to take the Ducks.

Three or four unproductive drives would seem to be enough for an Oregon upset — or at least the cover.

The pick: Oregon 38, Washington 34.

THEY SAID IT

“It’s fun, and it’s special. It was big going on the road at that time. Getting a win there. … You learn a lot just so far as the excitement and the passion … . Obviously, (Nos.) 7 and 8 in the country. So, a lot of great football is going to be played on (Saturday) for sure.”

–Washington coach Kalen DeBoer on winning last year at Oregon and on Saturday’s epic matchup.

–Field Level Media

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