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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 9, 2007 at 4:02 PM

The pick. …

The importance of tomorrow’s game doesn’t really need re-stating for anyone reading this blog.
UW has to win to keep its bowl hopes alive, and OSU can clinch bowl eligibility by getting a win — and would have just two games left, each on the road, to do it if it loses. So motivation won’t be any problem tomorrow.
Health is an obvious issue and that has been well-documented this week. No doubt, the Huskies need to shut down the run and force Lyle Moevao to make plays. If the Huskies can do that, and keep its running game resurgence going, it has a great chance to win this game. As always, the huge edge Jake Locker could give UW at the QB spot could be enough to make up for some shortcomings elsewhere. When I broke down the positions, this is how I gave out the edges:
QB —- Washington. A big edge for UW here for all the obvious reasons.
RB — Oregon State. A tough call given Louis Rankin’s performance last week. But if Yvenson Bernard is healthy, and sounds like he’s pretty close, then he has to get the edge.
WR — Washington. Another one that’s close. But with Sammie Stroughter out the Beavers don’t have any real dangerous game-breakers. UW would get a bigger edge if some of their guys would stop dropping passes.
OL — Washington. Never would have envisioned giving the Huskies the edge here a couple of months ago when OSU’s O-line was being billed as one of the best in the nation. But the Beavers have been banged up and the line is being reshuffled this week. UW is coming off its most dominating performance up front in a conference game in years. If Jeremy Perry plays well for OSU, then the Beavers may get the edge here. But as of now, the arrow goes to UW.
DL — Oregon State. UW’s group improved markedly last week and the Beavers will be without starting DE Dorian Smith due to an injury. But OSU is also deep up front and it’s a solid and experienced group even without Smith. Smith’s replacement will be Victor Butler who actually has more sacks than Smith does — seven to six — both of which are more than any Husky.
LB —- Oregon State. A big edge to the Beavers here as OSU has become something of Linebacker U in the Pac-10 the last few years while UW is battling some injury problems with its group. Another experienced and proven group led by SLB Derrick Doggett , generally considered one of the top 10 LBs in the country.
DB —- Oregon State. Another pretty big edge for Oregon State with two veteran CBs who have combined for a career 57 starts and a solid FS in Al Afalava. Byron Davenport has made UW’s secondary a lot better, however, and Jordan Murchison may, as well.
ST —- Oregon State. PK Alexis Serna alone gives OSU an edge here, though his punting has been a struggle at times this season. OSU’s return teams haven’t been very good with Stoughter out (and cost them the game against UCLA) but its kickoff coverage has been a lot better.
Add it up, and I see a 24-17 win for the Beavers. I think OSU will have more success shutting down UW’s run than the Huskies will with the Beavers, and I think the home field advantage will help result in a play or two that will turn things OSU’s way.
ALSO, here are a few more answers to questions:
— Somebody asked about some of the players having mohawks, something we also noted on the blog last week. Juan Garcia explained this week that he got a mohawk as a result of getting a bad haircut and trying to make something of it. He tried to talk a few other players into getting one so he wouldn’t be alone and was successful with the likes of Jordan White-Frisbee and Matt Sedillo. Garcia joked about trying to get Locker to go along, as well, but that sounds like a longshot.
— Someone asked whether prognosticators are looking ahead to 2008 already and where UW stands. Really hard to do that now since it’s hard to know exactly what each team will look like. Certainly, UW will have a lot back, with Locker being the key part of that. Some teams will lose some pretty significant pieces such as Arizona (on defense), Oregon (on offense), UCLA and Oregon State (each on defense primarily) and Arizona State (basically its entire offensive line).
USC will have a lot back, especially with the recent news that Brian Cushing and Rey Maualauga saying they are returning. Cal is also fairly young though DeSean Jackson is likely to leave early.
UW could have seven starters back on offense and six back on defense, which would likely rank among the better group of returnees in the conference. If the Huskies finish fast, UW could be picked for a middle-of-the-pack type finish next year, and maybe a little higher depending on who loses what. But I would think USC and Cal would still be the teams to beat heading into next year.

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