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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

January 2, 2015 at 9:21 AM

Cactus Bowl prediction: Swan song arrives for UW’s dominant defensive line

Washington's senior defensive line: Evan Hudson, Hau'oli Kikaha, Danny Shelton and Andrew Hudson. (Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times)

Washington’s senior defensive line: Evan Hudson, Hau’oli Kikaha, Danny Shelton and Andrew Hudson. (Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times)

There are certain statistics and numbers we fall in love with. Perhaps I’m guilty of that with the Huskies’ sack totals this season.

Then again … what’s not to like?

Hau’oli Kikaha’s sack of Sean Mannion on Oregon State’s first snap at Husky Stadium set the tone for UW’s 37-13 rout of the Beavers on Nov. 22. Kikaha finished the regular season leading the nation with 18 sacks, and the Huskies are tied for second in the nation with 49 sacks (3.77 sacks per game). For perspective, UW had 44 sacks combined in 2008 and 2009.

I’m setting the over/under for UW sacks at five in the TicketCity Cactus Bowl tonight against Oklahoma State (7:15 p.m. PT, ESPN).

Sacks aren’t everything, of course. Making the quarterback move around in the pocket, distracting him, making him uncomfortable all can be as effective as a sack, and the Huskies’ senior defensive line has been largely dominant in that regard most of the season. You could see how much fun Kikaha, Evan Hudson, Andrew Hudson and Danny Shelton were having together, particularly late in the season — and particularly Shelton (barrel roll!).

In some ways, this does feel like the other OSU game from Nov. 22. The Huskies should again own the line of scrimmage against this Oklahoma State offense that has allowed 3.08 sacks per game, most in the Big 12, and they should make true freshman QB Mason Rudolph, in his third start, uncomfortable.

The Cowboys (6-6) had a terrific comeback to beat rival Oklahoma. You could see the energy from the Cowboys and how much that meant to them.

I sense that this game means a lot to the Huskies, too. Especially those big seniors up front. This is their night.

Prediction: Huskies 34, Oklahoma State 24

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