BROCK AND SALK

Huard: Why are No. 3 UW Huskies underdogs vs No. 5 Oregon?

Nov 27, 2023, 11:27 AM | Updated: Nov 29, 2023, 10:34 am

UW Huskies Oregon Bucky Irving...

Bucky Irving of the Oregon Ducks celebrates a touchdown against the UW Huskies on Oct. 14, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The UW Huskies football team had a pretty great weekend.

Rost: Could both UW Huskies and Oregon make College Football Playoff?

On Saturday, Washington beat the WSU Cougars 24-21 on a last-second field goal to win the last Apple Cup that the two rivals will play as conference foes. And on Sunday morning, they moved up a spot to No. 3 in the new Associated Press top 25 poll, indicating the all-important College Football Playoff rankings could follow suit this week when they’re released on Tuesday afternoon.

And yet Washington is going into Friday’s Pac-12 Championship as not just an underdog against a team it has already beat – the No. 5 Oregon Ducks – but a big underdog. Why?

“They’re blowing everybody out,” Mike Salk said of the Ducks on Monday’s edition of Brock and Salk on Seattle Sports.

“And looking good doing so,” replied his co-host, Brock Huard.

Huard, a former UW Huskies quarterback who now calls college football games as an analyst for FOX, was on the broadcast for both Oregon’s win over No. 21 Oregon State last Friday as well as Saturday’s Apple Cup. So if anyone has a good idea of the differences right now between the 12-0 Huskies and 11-1 Ducks, it would be him.

“I mean, they look like the 49ers or the Eagles,” he said of Oregon. “They’re just a totally complete team in every phase – other than their kicker, who’s kind of a mess and missed a pretty big one against UW.”

That’s an important point. While the Huskies did win the regular season matchup with Oregon 36-33 on Oct. 14, kicker Camden Lewis missed a field goal at the very end that would have tied the game. And since then, the Ducks have won seven straight, all by at least 14 points except one. That includes more impressive victories over ranked opponents Utah and Oregon State than the Huskies have.

Penix, No. 3 UW Huskies need offense clicking vs No. 5 Oregon

“(Oregon quarterback) Bo Nix is at a different level. He’s seeing the game, he’s processing the game, he’s got answers at receiver, answers at running back, answers at tight end, answers at O-line. Got a lot of answers all around him,” Huard said.

Huard then pointed to “game control,” something Oregon has had more of than the Huskies in recent games.

“For the last six weeks, there has not been a lot of game control from the University of Washington, but all they’ve done is win. And for Oregon, there has been a lot of game control and all they’ve done is blow people’s doors off, including Oregon State on Friday night,” Huard said. “So not surprised to see that number (that Oregon is favored to win by) as big as it is.”

That could be turned into a positive for quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and the Huskies, though, as Huard said “it would be nearly impossible” to write a script where the No. 3 team in the country was an underdog by over a touchdown against a lower-ranked opponent.

“To be honest with you, for a Husky and for the Husky nation and for Penix and crew, maybe (that’s) putting that chip back on the shoulder instead of playing as the lead dog,” said Huard. “Now you’re at the back of the pack and nobody thinks you can do it. That can be a heck of a motivating tool.”

Listen to a podcast of the full Blue 88 segment from Monday’s Brock and Salk at this link or in the player near the top of the post.

More on the UW Huskies

Caple’s Takeaways: Washington makes gutsy call in Apple Cup win
Recap: Dawgs beat WSU in Apple Cup to move to 12-0
The Big Plays: In epic Apple Cup, No. 4 UW Huskies beat WSU 24-21

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