And yes, I know what that phrase means to Oregon fans and 1994 and all that (I actually was there and covered that game). We’ve actually gone over this and decided the name will stay.
So, now on to this weekend’s game.
One question I saw asked out there is the last time UW beat a team ranked No. 2 or higher on the road. It’s actually only happened once in team history, in 1980, when the Huskies beat a No. 2-ranked USC team 20-10 in Los Angeles, the key win in getting that squad to the Rose Bowl (I don’t know much about that game and the stats don’t reveal a promising formula for future teams to follow as USC outgained UW 404-212 but obviously got just 10 points and lost).
UW does have two wins against teams ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in bowl games (beat No. 1 Minnesota in the 1961 Rose Bowl and No. 2 Oklahoma in the 1985 Orange Bowl). But UW is winless in eight games against teams ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 since then, either home or road (Miami was No. 4 in 2000 and Nebraska No. 9 in 1991, to answer a couple of questions that might crop up).
So long-term history indicates it’s a tough task for the Huskies to pull off tomorrow against the No. 2-rated Ducks.
So does shorter-term history.
I’m sure you don’t want a lot of numbers detailing Oregon’s dominance of the series the last eight years. Suffice to say, any stat you would pull out would basically show Oregon has the streak it has because it has simply been the better team against UW each season (the rushing numbers, though, would be particularly telling — Oregon has rushed for 212 yards or more in each of the last six games while UW hasn’t rushed for more than 136).
A more relevant number for tomorrow may be this — 31.
That’s the lowest point total Oregon has scored in any home since Chip Kelly took over as coach prior to the 2009 season, a 31-24 win over Utah in 2009 in Kelly’s third game as coach (the number is 35 if you make it just conference games only, that occurring last season in a 37-35 loss to USC.)
So, while UW’s defense is vastly improved, Oregon has a well-established history of scoring lots and lots at home, and those numbers seem like reasonable baselines for how many points the Ducks will score tomorrow.
The question then becomes whether the Huskies can keep up offensively.
It was interesting listening to Steve Sarkisian on KJR-AM today say that the matchup that worried him the most about this game was UW’s offensive line against Oregon’s front seven. Not a big surprise, necessarily, given the health issues of the line and the inexperience of the group that is now playing.
But a few weeks ago it might have been more expected to hear him mention a UW defense vs. Oregon offense matchup. UW, though, has obviously struggled to protect Keith Price all season, and also didn’t get much of a running game going in its first two games — and despite some improvement the last two weeks, UW still ranks ninth in the Pac-12 at 119.2 rushing yards per game.
Allowing three sacks again (UW’s average is 2.75 per game) and rushing for less than 120 yards almost certainly won’t cut it in Eugene against an Oregon team rushing for 303 yards per game.
As last week showed anew, upsets happen. But it feels like a lot to ask for UW to pull off a second straight upset of a Top 10 team — and this one obviously also on the road. I’ll expect it to again be close for a while. But continuing a frustrating trend for UW fans, I also expect that Oregon will ultimately pull away. Call it Oregon 37, Washington 17.