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UW-Oregon Preview: ‘So much at stake,’ ESPN’s Herbstreit tells Huard bros

Oct 11, 2023, 11:05 AM | Updated: Oct 12, 2023, 5:04 pm

UW Huskies Oregon...

Jeremiah Martin and Bralen Trice of the UW Huskies celebrate their sack against Oregon on Nov. 12, 2022. (Tom Hauck/Getty Images)

(Tom Hauck/Getty Images)

Wednesday was a brotherly love edition of Brock and Salk on Seattle Sports as Brock Huard hosted the show with his older brother Damon Huard, a fellow former NFL quarterback and UW Huskies legend.

Caple: Why UW-Oregon rivalry game has never been bigger

It’s only right that this would be the week for Damon to guest host as UW is readying for its biggest game in years: Saturday’s matchup with Oregon in a battle of the No. 7 and 8 teams in the country.

Need another reason to know it’s a big game? ESPN’s College Gameday will be at UW’s Red Square Saturday morning ahead of the big rivalry clash, which will have major implications not just for bragging rights but for the Pac-12 title race, the Heisman Trophy race and, most importantly, the College Football Playoffs.

Gameday coming to Montlake means that longtime ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit will be in the Pacific Northwest ahead of the game. On Wednesday, “Herbie” joined the Huard brothers to discuss the game.

After the Huard bros shared their history with the UW-Oregon rivalry game – and what the two programs and fan bases think of each other – Herbstreit gave his thoughts on the matchup.

“It plays perfectly into this Saturday, man. There’s so much at stake,” he said. “Both teams have an opportunity. It’s not subjective. You’re going to play it on the field. We’ve got USC dangling out there.”

Entering this weekend, the Pac-12 has six teams in The Associated Press Top 25 poll, with UW leading the way at No. 7 and Oregon next one spot below. Those two and USC are the last remaining undefeated teams in the conference, but also the lone three teams without a loss in conference.

AP Top 25: WSU drops after loss, UW Huskies stick at No. 7

So what will Herbsteit be keeping a close eye on Saturday?

“I’ll be honest, my one thing that I’m concerned about is I don’t know yet – kind of like Ohio State and Michigan – I just don’t know how good these teams are at this point,” he said. “I mean, they look great. And then you look at who they played, and obviously these are going to be the best opponents that they’ve faced when they face off.”

For the UW Huskies, they’ve beaten Boise State, Tulsa, Michigan State, California and Arizona, which have a combined 14-15 record.

As for Oregon, the Ducks have beaten FCS school Portland State, Texas Tech, Hawaii, Colorado and Stanford, which have a combined 12-13 record.

Oregon’s game versus Colorado was a top-25 matchup at the time, but the Buffaloes are no longer ranked.

“That’s the exciting part of this in college football,” Herbstreit said. “You get to a point where you think you know Georgia and you think you know Michigan, and then they step into the ring with somebody who’s got similar talent and it’s like, OK, now we go. And that to me is this game.”

Herbstreit has one big question mark for the Huskies ahead of Saturday.

“If I were concerned about one thing – because Washington is going to score and they’re going to score on anybody they play with the skill that they have and with the way Michael (Penix Jr.) is playing – my one concern for Washington is the run defense,” he said. “I think they’re pretty good and I think they can hold up. But (Oregon’s) Bucky Irving and Jordan James and Bo Nix, I mean, that’s a different animal in the scheme and the tempo. So that part of it, I think, could be a big factor in this game.”

Oregon has the No. 8 rushing attack in the nation at 225.2 yards per game, while the UW Huskies are currently 44th in rushing yards allowed per game at 121.6. When it comes to yards per rush, the Huskies are 47th in that category on defense (3.78) while the Ducks are first on offense at 6.99 yards per attempt. Oregon is also tied for fourth in rushing touchdowns this year.

We mentioned the Heisman race earlier, and this game features two of the frontrunners for that trophy at quarterback in Washington’s Penix and Oregon’s Nix.

“Obviously any time there’s so much emotion, which of these quarterbacks is able to just kind of let the game come to them and not feel like they have to live up to the hype and try to make a play,” Herbstreit said. “I think the experience of both these guys, they’re kind of grizzled veterans with everything they’ve been through. By the way, Bo Nix has had like four or five different offensive coordinators (in his college career) … The guy has been through so much. And then with Penix, I mean, the injuries and everything he sustained.

“I think we’re gonna we’re gonna see these offenses are worthy of the hype. I just want to see which defense can hold up and how much of an advantage playing at Seattle will rev up that Husky defense.”

Listen to the full conversation with Herbstreit in the podcast at this link or in the audio player near the top of this post.

More on the UW Huskies

New UW Huskies AD Troy Dannen addresses murky future of Apple Cup
Troy Dannen jumps at rare opportunity to become UW Huskies AD
UW asks court to dismiss WSU, Oregon State’s suit against Pac-12
What’s UW Huskies’ toughest game? Ranking remaining schedule

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