Can Huskies Break The String?

SEATTLE - In one of the most heated interstate rivalries in all of college football, the No. 6 Oregon Ducks travel north to Husky Stadium to face a Washington team in their final home game at Husky Stadium. The Huskies will be amped up, as the 1991 National Championship team will be honored during the game, and it's also Senior Night. Will the Ducks be able to get past all the UW mojo?

KICKOFF: Saturday, 10:30 ET
GAMEDATE: 11/5/11
SITE: Husky Stadium, Seattle, Wash.
SURFACE: FieldTurf
SERIES: Washington leads 58-40-5 (last meeting, 2010, Oregon 53-16)
RECORDS: Oregon 7-1, 5-0 Pac-12; Washington 6-2, 4-1 Pac-12
POLLS: Oregon (No. 6 AP, No. 6 USA Today)
PREDICTION: Oregon 35-24
-- For Oregon: Get the stars back on track. The Ducks have had to juggle personnel as RB LaMichael James missed two games and QB Darron Thomas missed one and a half, but both returned last week against Washington State. James looked rusty as he ran 13 times for a season-low 53 yards and did not score a touchdown for the first time all season, and Thomas threw for 153 yards and a touchdown, but also two interceptions.

-- For Washington: Shorten the game. Oregon likes to speed things up with its no-huddle and quick pace, and Washington must counter that by controlling the ball with its running game. The defense can't miss open-field tackles.

Despite losing RB LaMichael James for two games and QB Darron Thomas for one game, Oregon hasn't missed a beat on offense. Their high-powered spread attack continues to lead the conference with 526.9 yards per game. Oregon's 309.2 rushing yards per game is nearly 100 yards more than any other team in the conference, and the Ducks are scoring 47.5 points per game. Washington ranks near the bottom of the Pac-12 by allowing 430.4 total yards per game.

Defensively, Oregon is giving up nearly 400 yards and ranks in the lower half of the conference in that category, but the Ducks rank third in the conference by giving up 21.2 points per game. Opponents are completing only 54.7 percent of their passes against Oregon, which is the lowest mark against any team in the Pac-12. Oregon has allowed only nine touchdown passes. Washington is rushing for 174.1 yards per game, while Oregon ranks ninth in the conference by allowing 157.6 yards on the ground.

Oregon got back on track offensively against Arizona, gaining 498 yards and scoring 42 points after being held to 21 in the loss at Stanford the previous week. The Huskies, though, will have to execute better in the passing game than they have at times the past few weeks, when dropped passes have been an issue. UW may really try to ride RB Chris Polk in this one, however. Polk had one of the best games of his career last week against Arizona with 144 yards rushing and 100 receiving -- the first person in school history to top the 100-yard mark in each department in the same game -- and is playing at a peak level right now.

The much-maligned Washington defense rebounded a little bit last week, forcing four turnovers to help the Huskies hang on for a 42-31 win over Arizona -- less than half the points allowed the previous week in a 65-21 defeat at Stanford. It's hard to figure how UW will be able to shut down Oregon in much of any way. But the key will be not giving in easily. The Huskies used a little more pressure against Arizona while still not giving up a lot of big plays. Arizona had 424 yards but scored just two offensive touchdowns, as the Huskies continued a season-long trend of generally stiffening in the red zone.

Ducks: Oregon has won seven straight against the Huskies, including the last two in Seattle. The Ducks have scored at least 31 points in each of their last seven wins against Washington and 43 points or more in the last four. Washington has scored more than 21 points only once in their seven straight losses to the Ducks. ... Oregon is ranked eighth in this week's BCS standings. That is the 23rd straight week the Ducks have been ranked in those standings and the 14th straight week in the top 10 dating back to 2008. ... The Ducks have scored 40 or more points in 24 of its last 34 games. ... The Ducks have a 17-game conference winning streak working. ... RB LaMichael James has been named as one of 16 semifinalists for the Maxwell Award presented to the collegiate player of the year. James leads the nation with 200.2 all-purpose yards per game and ranks second in rushing at 150.9 yards per game. Despite missing two games with an elbow injury, James has run for 905 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, averaging a career-best 8.4 yards per carry. ... Junior CB Cliff Harris remains suspended after being cited for three driving violations last week.

Huskies: Washington is honoring the 1991 national championship team this week as part of the festivities celebrating the end of Husky Stadium in its current configuration. The stadium will undergo a $250 million renovation beginning next week. ... Former coach Don James will participate in the coin toss before the game as part of the festivities. ... The Huskies have had much improved kickoff returns this season, led by sophomore Kevin Smith, who is ninth in the country in kickoff-return yardage at 30.2 per attempt. ... S Taz Stevenson, who had played just the first two games with a knee injury, returned to action against Arizona. .. Sophomore SS Sean Parker continues to emerge as one of the better playmakers for the Huskies, coming up with another key interception last week against Arizona. He will need to play his best game this week to help slow down the Oregon offense.

CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu -- The true freshman made his first start at cornerback against Washington State and tied for third on the team with six tackles. He also broke up two passes. Coach Chip Kelly was complimentary of his coverage after the game.

RB Kenjon Barner -- The junior moved into the starting lineup when LaMichael James missed two games and again led the team in carries against Washington State even with James back on the field. Barner has run for at least 100 yards in each of the last three games and has four touchdowns during that time. He has scored all of his career-high seven touchdowns in conference games.

RB/WR De'Anthony Thomas -- The highly-touted recruit from Los Angeles scored two touchdowns against Washington State to set the school record for most touchdowns by a true freshman with 11. He leads the team with 25 catches for 382 yards and six touchdowns and has also run 40 times for 342 yards and four scores. His 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against WSU tied for the 10th-longest kickoff return in school history.

QB Keith Price -- Price has come down to earth just a little bit the last couple of weeks after a sensational start to the season. He has thrown four interceptions and two touchdowns the last two weeks. Some of that hasn't been his fault, as two interceptions against Arizona were tipped. Still, the passing game has been a little out-of-sync at times the past two weeks and needs to be on point this week.

RB Chris Polk -- The junior had another banner day against Arizona with five touchdowns, four on the ground and one through the air, as well as 144 yards rushing. He is averaging 127 yards per game to rank fifth in the nation and is on pace to break the school's all-time rushing mark by the end of the season. A big game against Oregon could only heighten his national spotlight.

LB Cort Dennison -- The heart and soul of Washington's defense, the senior will need to be a steadying force for the Huskies to slow down the fast-paced Oregon attack.

Ducks: CB Anthony Gildon (undisclosed, probable), DE Tony Washington (elbow, questionable).

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