5 Things To Watch: Washington

EUGENE, Arch. — The Oregon football team will put its unblemished Pac-12 game record on the line Saturday when the Ducks host rival Washington at Autzen Stadium.

The no. 6 Ducks (8-1, 6-0 Pac-12) remain the only undefeated team in the Conference Playoff and are knocking on the door of the College Football Playoffs. The Ducks have eight straight wins and have scored 40 or more points in all eight; It’s the longest active streak in the country with 40+ points, and one of only 21 times in college football history — five by Oregon.

The No. 25 Huskies are 7-2 overall and 4-2 in conference play. After a perfect start to the season in non-conference play that included a win over then-No. 11 Michigan State, UW lost back-to-back road games to UCLA and Arizona State, falling to 4-2. Washington has since won three straight games, including over then-No. 24 Oregon State last week.

Washington leads the all-time series 60-48-5 while Oregon leads 22-13-2 in games in Eugene. The Ducks have won 15 of the last 17 in the series, including the last three in a row.

Saturday’s game begins at 4:10 p.m. and will be televised by FOX, with Jason Benetti providing game-by-game coverage, analysis from Brock Huard and side-gathering from Allison Williams.

Some storylines to watch on Saturday night…

1. like Oregon, The huskies found what they were looking for in the transfer portal at quarterback this season. UW added Michael Penix Jr., who leads the nation in passing yardage and is No. 2 in total offense; He passed for 300 yards or more in each of UW’s first nine games before coming just wide with 298 against the Beavers last week.

Oregon has been prone to shots in the passing game at times this season. Like everyone else UW has faced this fall, the Ducks will have their hands full with Penix and his stable of recipients.

“He’s a talented player,” said UO coach Dan Lanning. “He throws the ball well and there aren’t many shots he can’t make. He does a good job of playing from the pocket. He can be elusive at times but I think he has a lot of confidence in the lads , which he throws, and obviously he was able to turn that into a success.

2. sure, The huskies also have their hands full, with an Oregon offense that is also strong but has been more balanced this season. The Ducks are No. 11 in FBS at 231.22 yards per game and No. 21 in passing at 289.3 yards per game; While UW is No. 1 in drive-by, the Huskies are No. 98 in rush.

Leading the Ducks was their own transfer at quarterback Bo Nix, who accounted for a total of 36 passing, rushing and receiving touchdowns, the most in the FBS.

“It was so much fun just being out there with the guys,” said Nix. “It showed on Saturday (in Colorado) when different people scored and everyone celebrated. The entire offensive goes up and down. The defense is having fun. I think that’s why we’re playing really well overall. We just connect well with each other.”

3. Lanning made sure of that in practice This week felt a little differentplays UW’s fight song every day and ends the workout with motivational speeches from UO legends like Mike Bellotti and Dino Philyaw.

Some past UO coaches chose not to emphasize extra intensity for Rivalry Weeks. Lanning welcomes it.

“No love is lost in this game, and that’s exciting,” said Lanning. “Games like this are fun. You know, I’m talking to some former alumni who played here – Coach Bellotti, Dan Fouts – guys that I could kind of connect with and just communicate with how this game was like over time. It was exciting for me because this game means something to people.”

4. The second week in a row the ducks will be without a member of their defense for the first half on Saturday, due to a goal penalty drawn in the second half of the week before.

Last week, linebacker Jeffrey Bassa sat out the first half in Colorado for a goal foul on Cal. This week is about safety Yamal hill Sitting out the first half, a trend the Ducks would like to end in the future.

“We need to train better on our side to hit in the hitting zone,” Lanning said. “To do a good job in the target zone and the coach to tackle better from our side. It’s disappointing. You hate losing players and you want to be able to play in those moments, in big games like this. You want your players to be available and able to play.”

5. If there’s one storyline Oregon fans don’t need to worry about this week or beyond, this is it the future of Lanning with the program.

Oregon’s success this season has already fueled rumors that the Ducks’ first-year coach could be a candidate for other jobs. That made parts of the UO fan base nervous given the managerial change of recent years, but Lanning firmly put those rumors to one side this week.

“I think there’s a little problem in today’s society when people are looking for what’s next and where there’s an opportunity,” Lanning said. “The reality is that the grass isn’t always greener; in fact, the grass in Eugene is pretty darn green. I want to be here in Eugene for as long as Eugene will have me. This place has everything I could ever want, everything I want family would ever want. I have an 11 year old who has lived in eight different states. The last thing I want to do for everyone is vacation.

“I want to enjoy this opportunity here. It was a phenomenal place for us. When you’re talking about things that fit together, things that align with your vision, what you’re looking for as a head coach, Oregon ticks every box for me. I think maybe history shows that this is a great place and not a place to walk away. I want to be here.”

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