It’s way past time to get The Pick posted — unfortunately running a little late with things today.
But hopefully better late than never.
I was intending to throw out a few more numbers on this game as I often do in the Friday space (which some of you like and which some of you, I’ve gotten the message, don’t).
But as I searched through the conference-only Pac-12 stats, the realization hit more than ever how Oregon is dominating the conference and how whether a team has played the Ducks or has not really skews the stats.
Consider, for instance, rushing defense.
Here are the conference-only numbers on run defense:
1, Stanford, 42,0;
2, Oregon State, 103.0;
3, Utah, 107.0;
4, Oregon, 127.0;
5, UCLA, 134.3;
6, California, 170.0;
7. USC, 174.7;
8, Arizona State, 183.5;
9, Washington, 201.0;
10, Arizona, 203.7;
11, Washington State, 204.8;
12, Colorado, 211.8.
You’ll note that the top six teams have not played Oregon (or, as is obvious, are the Ducks themselves).
The bottom six, meanwhile, have all played an Oregon team that is averaging 347.3 yards per game on the ground in Pac-12 games.
I bring that up also because the Huskies are sort of defying all the numbers, anyway.
Consider that UW is being outscored 28.5-18.3 in conference play, outgained 419.3-341.5 per game and 6.0-4.9 per play. UW has nine sacks while allowing 18 (again, conference only) and is converting just 31 percent of third downs while allowing 40.
Despite that, UW is 3-3 and in the eyes of many of its supporters, could easily be on its way to a 6-3 conference record that would be the best since the 2001 season. A long way to go yet, obviously, to get there,
But the point is that even at this late date in the season, the schedule — who a team has played and when — can skew the numbers, especially this year when Oregon is such a dominant offensive team.
And the further point is that when it comes to UW, the Huskies seem to keep “finding a way,” to use the same phrase Steve Sarkisian has all week. UW has won three Pac-12 games by a combined 15 points, lost three by a combined 76.
This feels like another one of those close wins where the Huskies find a way, scratching out just enough of a running game (that won’t be as easy this week as it was last week against Cal) to set up some timely passing, and playing the usual good defense at home, especially against the run. Stopping the run will be imperative this week with Utah going with true freshman Travis Wilson at quarterback.
As the conference-only stats show, Wilson has maybe been better than you’d think, ranking sixth in passing efficiency and completing better than 67 percent of his passes. But Wilson has also played two of the weaker defenses in Cal and WSU the last two weeks, and you’d still think putting the game in the hands of a true frosh on the road is the way to go. That basically worked for UW against Stanford and OSU, putting the game in the hands of inexperienced or struggling QBs and forcing them into just enough mistakes.
A wildcard here is the special teams with Utah featuring dangerous kickoff returner Reggie Dunn. UW has had a hard time kicking the ball through the end zone (its four touchbacks are the fewest in Pac-12 play) so Dunn figures to get his chances.
But especially at home, UW has played above what the numbers might indicate. Figure this another one where UW does just enough to get it done. Call it WASHINGTON 21, UTAH 17