As of now, we don’t know who will start at quarterback for the Huskies against Oregon State on Saturday night.
It shouldn’t matter.
I think the Huskies can win this game with redshirt freshman Cyler Miles making his first start, and I have a hunch he will.
And I have a hunch the Huskies will pull this one out.
History suggests otherwise, of course. The Huskies are 0-3 on the road in Pac-12 games this season, and they’ve lost nine of their last 12 road games overall going back to 2011. (And, let’s be honest, those three conference road wins — over Utah, Colorado and California — aren’t that special.)
This is the Huskies’ last hope to salvage something somewhat special of this season. Yes, 9-4 is still out there.
So is 6-7.
But Oregon State isn’t Stanford … or Arizona State … or UCLA.
The Beaver are reeling, much like Huskies. Saturday night in Corvallis, both teams will try to use each other as a step ladder onto the Pac-12’s last-chance life raft.
Right now, they’re both struggling to tread water, and someone is about to go down.
I sense some new life in the Huskies with Miles at the helm. Don’t get me wrong: The Huskies have a better chance to win with fifth-year senior quarterback Keith Price — if he’s healthy.
Right now, it doesn’t appear that he’s healthy enough.
Miles, the rookie, is going to make some mistakes, as he did last week in the failed comeback bid at UCLA. You can’t completely dismiss interceptions on successive throws, but you can forgive a freshman’s feeling of desperation while trailing on the road in the fourth quarter against a top-15 team.
You could also see the flashes of potential from Miles. A week to prepare as the starter, to have game plan designed specifically around his skill set, should offer more opportunities for more flashes.
That the Beavers are a one-dimensional offense plays into UW’s favor. Brandin Cooks will get his touches, but Sean Mannion has thrown seven interceptions in the last two games, and four against UW last season in Seattle. His stock is sinking.
Let’s call this a coming-out party for Cyler Miles, and let’s see if the Huskies can indeed come up for a big breath of cold, fresh air Saturday night in Corvallis.
The pick: Washington 34, Oregon State 28.
Around the Pac-12:
—- Arizona State at UCLA: It’s the Pac-12 South Game of the Year, and the Sun Devils should win. Maybe handily. I don’t know that they will, but to me, Arizona State is the deeper, more physical team. UCLA is still banged up and playing three freshman on the offensive line — who have held up surprisingly well. ASU’s defensive line will give them fits. The pick: Arizona State 35, UCLA 24.
—- Utah at Washington State: The Cougars haven’t been good at home, but the Utes haven’t very been good away from home — and they’re starting a walk-on quarterback. Welcome back to bowl eligibility, Cougs. The pick: Washington State 28, Utah 24.
—- USC at Colorado: Congrats to Colorado on its victory over Cal last week, ending the Buffs’ 14-game conference losing skid. Looks like that Mike MacIntyre can coach a little bit. It won’t matter this weekend: The Ed Orgeron cheers grow even louder in Colorado. The pick: USC 42, Colorado 21.
—- Oregon at Arizona: The Ducks have had trouble in the past in Tucson, and one wonders how much trouble Marcus Mariota‘s knee is in. But Oregon is back in the driver’s seat in the Pac-12, and it’s difficult to imagine Arizona picking itself up a week after losing to Washington State at home. The pick: Oregon 49, Arizona 24.
—- California at Stanford: A big letdown for the Big Game. Stanford is a 31.5-point favorite (a record for the rivalry series), and I like the Cardinal to cover. The pick: Stanford 41, California 6.