DEFENSIVE MATCHUP: Beavs vs. Huskies

THE BEAVER DEFENSE comes into Saturday's home finale against Washington having played their best game of the season. Oregon State held Cal to just 39 ground yards and brought loads of pressure. Washington, however, was stout against the run as well last week, allowing UCLA just 84 yards. The UW pass defense, however, was and is a different story. Here are how the defensive matchups shape up..

UCLA, who had looked downright moribund on offense coming in, lit up the UW secondary last week for 371 yards and two scores.

With OSU in possession of a considerably stronger ground game than UCLA, plus the most potent passing offense in the Pac-10, Oregon State could light up the Reser scoreboard against a beleaguered Washington squad who have lost five of their past six and three straight.

Defensive Line: It took about seven weeks, but the front four for OSU have shown signs of life ever since their road tilt versus USC. Over the last three games, the Beavers have pushed into the backfield and shown diversity in their pass rush.

Matt LaGrone and Gabe Miller moved into starting roles last week, while Stephen Paea continues to be virtually unblockable -- when there is only one man on him. The Beavers have recorded six of the team's 10 sacks in the past two weeks and they rank third in rush defense allowing just 100.3 yards per game.

The 164.4 ground yards allowed by Washington ranks ninth in the conference. And Washington enters the game in the bottom half of the league in every major defensive category.

Daniel Te'o-Nesheim is the bell cow for the UW defensive line. With six of the team's 15 sacks, he will be the focal point in film study for offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf. Sophomore tackle Alameda Ta'amu is the second leading tackler on the line, but with just 13 total tackles and one sack.

Pick: Beavers. The improvement has been evident, the stats bear it out and the unit is playing well. Washington is one dimensional with Te'o-Nesheim.

Linebackers: Keaton Kristick has gotten his swagger back and is flying around the field.

The foursome of Kristick, David Pa'aluhi, Dwight Roberson, and Keith Pankey have 135 tackles and 17 tackles for loss on the season.

Blitz packages have been cranked up more frequently by d-coordinator Mark Banker and the group is playing fast and confident.

The Huskies live and die by the play of their ‘backers, and it's a talented and experienced group. Donald Butler, Mason Foster, and E.J. Savannah are one, two, and three in total tackles and are skilled in pass coverage, accounting for four interceptions. With a struggling defensive line, the linebacking group has shouldered the brunt of the run responsibility and played adequately.

Pick: Push. You don't get much more athletic than the trio for Washington, and with the way OSU is playing at the second level it should be a good matchup for both sides versus the respective offensive ground games.

Secondary: Washington sits one spot ahead of OSU in pass defense but both units allow over 260 passing yards per game.

Freshman corners Desmond Trufant and Adam Long have been at times bright spots in their first year starting, combining for 59 tackles and six pass break ups. The individual pieces are there, but the group has yet to play up to their potential and frankly, they're young.

Two of the league's worst passing offenses -- UCLA and Arizona State -- racked up a combined 666 yards and four scores on the young group.

Oregon State continues to give up yards, but not so much the big play.

Cal's Kevin Riley had thrown for 601 yards and five scores in his previous two games. OSU held the Beaverton native to 200 yards and one score.

That touchdown, and 64 of the 200 passing yards, came in the final seconds against the second team defense when the game was all but decided.

Pick: Beavers. Looking at similar opponents, OSU has handled the pass better than Washington and has two playmakers at safety in Lance Mitchell and Cameron Collins that make the difference.

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