Oregon, Washington battle for Pac-12 North title
For just the sixth time in the past 41 matchups, Washington and Oregon will meet as unranked teams Saturday after both were knocked out of the Top 25 with losses last weekend.
However, there is still plenty on the line.
The Huskies (3-1, 3-1 Pac-12) and Ducks (3-2, 3-2) will play for the conference’s North Division title and a berth in the league championship game when they meet in Eugene, Ore.
“Every single year our goal is to win the Pac-12 championship, and our goal is still there in front of us,” Washington coach Jimmy Lake said. “So now we need to build an unbelievable plan to play a really good opponent on their turf. That’s the process we are in right now.”
The Huskies, who will be playing on the road for the first time this season after trips to California and Washington State were canceled because of coronavirus concerns with the opposing team, will need to start quicker than they have the past two weeks.
Washington trailed each of its past two opponents, Utah and Stanford, by 21 points at the half. The Huskies rallied to beat the Utes 24-21 before falling 31-26 to the Cardinal last Saturday.
“We’ve got to do a better job just starting fast,” Washington linebacker Edefuan Ulofoshio said. “You can’t expect to be cardiac kids and be miracle workers. That’s not football.”
Washington allowed 191 rushing yards Saturday and Stanford converted 10 of 13 third downs and both of its fourth-down attempts. The Huskies never got the ball back after Peyton Henry’s 45-yard field goal with 7:54 remaining pulled them within five points.
“We have a great opponent (in Oregon), and they’re going to see this and try to abuse us,” said Ulofoshio, who was in on 18 tackles and returned a fumble 39 yards. “We have to get our minds right for it.”
The Ducks have lost two in a row, both on the road, a 41-38 defeat to in-state rival Oregon State on a last-minute touchdown, and 21-17 last weekend at Cal.
“I see a team that’s really trying,” Ducks coach Mario Cristobal said. “I see a coaching staff that’s working their tails off. We haven’t done good enough the last two weeks.”
The Ducks have committed five turnovers over the past two games, with quarterback Tyler Shough throwing two interceptions and losing two fumbles.
Oregon failed to score in the second half at Cal.
“It was just us shooting ourselves in the foot,” said Shough, who leads the conference with 1,389 passing yards. “We really just handed that game away at the end.”
The Ducks lead the Pac-12 with averages of 467 yards and 34.2 points per game, while the Huskies’ defense is allowing a league-low 346.3 yards per contest.
Oregon’s North Division title last season snapped the Huskies’ three-year run of at least sharing the crown.
“At the end of the day, that’s always one of the biggest goals we have,” Cristobal said of winning the division. “Every single game is like playoff football.”
The Ducks have won 14 of the past 16 games in the series, but their victories the past two seasons have been by a combined total of just seven points.
–Field Level Media