Tomorrow, the Oregon State Beavers host the Washington Huskies in the final home game of the 2015 season at Reser Stadium, and if the Beavers’ recent Pac-12 results are any indication, it will be a long Saturday, indeed, for the OSU faithful. The Huskies are no super power, but they have enough left in the tank to handle the fading Beavers.
Oregon State (2-8) has lost seven straight games, all in Pac-12 play. The Beavers are the only winless team in the conference. Meanwhile, Washington (4-6) is still hoping to become bowl eligible. The Huskies will be motivated to extend their season against a seemingly helpless opponent.
The Beavers close their season next Friday at Oregon in Eugene, while the Huskies travel to Pullman the same day to face Washington State. But for this Saturday’s game, both teams will focused on what they want to do: For OSU, that’s just to get a win anyway it can. For UW, it means taking care of business.
Oregon State has to find its quarterback for 2016 before this season ends, and the jury is still out on Nick Mitchell. Last week, his numbers were solid, but they mostly came in the second half when the Beavers began play 14 points behind and never got any closer. He has to keep the offense in the game in the first half against Washington, or else OSU is going to see another Pac-12 blowout loss to end its home season.
Help from the running game early would be nice, too. The problem with so many games this season is that the Beavers have been out of the game already by halftime. Washington isn’t the powerhouse on offense that other Pac-12 teams are, but the Huskies are still good. Thus, OSU needs a good start to be able to have a shot to win in the second half.
Storm Barrs-Woods (95 carries, 486 yards) and Ryan Nall (47 carries, 252 yards) each average over five yards per carry, and the Beavers need to ride those horses to be effective in the passing game with Mitchell. The challenge will be doing this against the Washington defense, currently ranked 25th in the country for points allowed (19.6).
The Huskies have the second-best defense in the conference, in terms of yards allowed per game (362.3) and and the best one if you’re looking at yards per play (4.84). Oregon State’s offense has to show up and play its best game of the year, basically, for the team to win tomorrow.
The good news is that the Washington offense isn’t great. Ranked just 85th based on yards per game (373.5), the Huskies aren’t loaded offensively like the other teams in the Pac-12. For example, UCLA and Cal put up a combined 95 points on the Beavers defense in the last two games. Washington has scored just 40 points in its last two games (against Utah and Arizona State).
If the Oregon State offense can do its part, then the defense can do its job better. The Beavers defense has just been on the field too much this season, because of the offense’s inability to sustain long scoring drives—especially in the first half of games. Oregon State has been down an average of 15 points at half time during league play this season, and the Beavers defense is working its butt off to keep it that close even.
Once again, the defense needs the offense to play better ball in order to succeed. With the Huskies defense being so good, that may be a tall order again this week—but at least Washington’s offense isn’t going to light it up much, either.
This game should be like the Colorado game earlier this season at Reser, where the Beavers lost a close one in the second half after being tied at halftime. We’re going to go out on a limb here for Seniors Day, hoping a guy like Barrs-Woods runs for 200 yards in the final home game of his collegiate career. Oregon State wins its first Pac-12 game this year with a late field goal, 21-20.