Five Keys to Victory: Washington

What do the Beavers need to do up in Seattle this weekend? Time to take a look at BeaverBlitz's Five Keys to Victory.

When Chris Petersen took over the helm, everyone and their grandma knew it was only matter of time before the Huskies returned to prominence. Well, folks, it appears as if that time is now as the UW has rolled through opponents this season en route to being ranked No. 5 in the nation. And this weekend, the Beavers take on the Huskies, who are fresh off a bye week.

So, it’s really not a surprise that OSU is nearly 30-point underdog going into this game. While they played Utah very tough, and the defense turned in a heck of a second-half performance, Washington is a load on both sides of the ball. The UW offense may get most of attention due to the Petersen effect, but its front seven is as tough and nasty as it gets. 

Still, anything can happen week in and week out in Pac-12 — and when it comes to the OSU-UW rivalry, most of us all know about the fabled 1985 upset, one of the greatest ones in NCAA history. What better time for a repeat than this season? Yeah, it sounds as crazy as thought would’ve been 30 years ago.  But here’s what the Beavers will have to do this weekend in order to pull off a victory.

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Stay within Two Scores. Washington is favored by more than four scores, but if the Beavers can keep within two scores, you just never know what might happen. A big play at that point could really turn the tables and swing the momentum. For this to happen though, the Beavers cannot leave any points on the board. They must covert ALL their red zone opportunities and shore up the kicking game that cost them at least six points against Utah. 

Chew up the Clock. The Beavers can ill afford to get into a shootout with the Huskies, who are dangerous through the air and on the ground. They will need to be able to establish a ground game, despite the fact that Ryan Nall and Art Pierce are a little banged up. They will need to rely on players such as Paul Lucas and Tim Cook more, and also be more creative by using more fly sweeps and reverses to get Victor Bolden/Seth Collins in space.

Pressure Browning. Sophomore QB Jake Browning is putting up video games this season, completing 72 percent of his passes for 1,418 yards, 23 touchdowns, and only two interceptions — quietly slipping himself into Heisman consideration. Needless to say, the OSU defense needs to be able to get to him and throw him off rhythm, even just a little, for the Beavers to have a shot. It’ll be a tall order, as the front 7 has struggled this year with pressure, but they did get two against Utah.

Create Turnovers. It won’t be enough for the Beavers to simply stop the Huskies here and there this weekend; they will need to force some turnovers, to halt the Huskies’ flow and give themselves (Beavers) good field position. In fact, they really need to come up with at least three to keep this game tight. The good news is the OSU secondary has really stepped up the past two games, and it was nice to see several blitzes by the linebackers against Utah be effective. More of that, please.

Establish some Balance. Lets face it, whoever is under center for the Beavers, probably isn’t going to light it up through the air. The passing game hasn’t been OSU’s forte and that probably won’t change against UW, but surely the Beavers will do better passing this week, right? They have to because good teams such as the Huskies will shut down one-trick offenses. At least 200 yards passing this week would be a nice start.

Simply put, this is going to be a tough one for the Beavers, and it wouldn’t be shocking if Washington bests the spread. Considering what UW has done to not just Oregon, but also Stanford, Beaver fans should brace for the worst. In fact, I am 100 percent OK if some players sit this one out to rest, considering this could be a blowout and the Husky D is so physical. But here’s hoping for a repeat of 1985 baby!

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