Be thrilled and amazed at the prior articles like how Washington State...will probably cover the spread! Or how Arizona - probably won't!
How do you value rivalries when doing stats-based analysis? Can FEI measure moxie? Does S+P measure the explosiveness of wanting it more? There are a lot of cliches we can throw out here, but I'm going to take a page from Chip Kelly's press and say that this is just another game.
And if it's another game, it's going to be another big win, and likely another spread covering.
How S+P sees the game:
Oregon: 2nd overall (293.4). 11th on offense (124.1), 2nd on defense (169.2)
Last week: 2nd overall (300.5), 9th on offense (125.2), 2nd on defense (175.3)
Washington: 32nd overall (220.2) (up 30 spots). 54th on offense (100.4), 22nd on defense (119.8)
I'm going to be doing something that I did during the Rose Bowl preview - similarities. For Oregon, Washington is very close to Arizona (27th) and Fresno (28th) on defense - the difference is only 3 points. They are close to Arkansas State (55th) and Washington State (57th) on offense - the difference is less than a point.
For Washington, Oregon is closest to LSU (4th) and Stanford (5th) on defense, though it is with a lead of 20 points over either of them; in that respect Oregon is far and away the best defense Washington has faced so far. On offense, the closest thing Washington has faced is LSU (25th); Oregon is 11 points higher.
A 70-point differential between Washington's offense and Oregon's defense is basically par for the course with the Ducks; if the Ducks get lucky on turnovers you get games like Arizona. If the Ducks get unlucky on turnovers you get games like Fresno State. Similarly, with Washington's Defense vs Oregon's offense, you have games like Arizona when we're somewhat lucky and games like Fresno when we're not. The differences are very similar to those other analyses. S+P likes Washington quite a bit - but they're not the hardest team Oregon has faced this season (Arizona), nor the second hardest (Fresno).
Oregon offense vs. Washington Defense
For Oregon's offense it breaks down like this (note that this is now adjusted and isn't directly comparable to earlier numbers, save the raw numbers which are not opponent-adjusted)
7th in rushing (142.1), 39th in passing (120.9), standard downs 9th (130), passing downs 65th (109). 4th in raw Success, 9th in raw explosiveness.
Compare this to Washington's D:
28th in rushing (123.3), 17th in passing (137.4). 8th on standard downs (138.8), 82nd on passing downs (89.5). 22nd in raw success rate, 32nd in raw explosiveness.
It's interesting how similar the breakdowns are here. Washington is all about stopping the run and winning standard downs, and Oregon is all about running and winning standard downs. Oregon's not great on passing downs, and Washington's not great at stopping passing downs. What does stand out here is that Washington's big weakness is passing. If there ever was a week for Marcus Mariota to have a breakout game, this would be it. Either through passing or long runs on passing downs Washington has a weakness and one that can be exploited. We saw this in the Stanford game; if Stanford has better receivers they win fairly easily. If we can get our passing game going a bit more we should be good; if we cannot for whatever reason, expect a long day.
Washington's offense vs. Oregon's defense
2nd against the rush (172.7), 4th against the pass (180.4). 27th on standard downs (116.9), 10th on passing (161.2) 4th on raw success rate (28.8), 2nd in raw explosiveness (.12)
21st rushing (126.5), 45th on passing (116.7). 52nd on standard downs (108.0), 69th on passing (106.3). 110th in raw success rate (36.3%), 110th on raw explosiveness (.26)
Washington is surprisingly good running the ball despite having issues with their line. They're decidedly average in passing. They've had an obviously brutal schedule going against the 4th and 5th best defenses so far (with us next at #2), which is why their raw values are so low. The best thing going for the Huskies here is that Oregon isn't amazing on standard downs - but Oregon is still better overall against the rush than pass, negating whatever value Washington has in rushing. The best bet for them is to do something that no opponent has remotely done so far: do great running the ball. This has not been a historically successful way to attack Oregon unless you have a historically incredible offense (like Wisconsin did).
How FEI sees the game:
8th overall (.249), 3rd in game efficiency (.343), 54th in strength of schedule (.196), 25th inoffensive efficiency (.399), 8th in defensive efficiency (-.674), field position 49th
Last week:Oregon: 8th overall. .244 FEI, .6th game efficiency (.367), 59th in strength of schedule (.222), offensive
efficiency .525 (19th), defense efficiency 9th overall (-.720), 63rd field position (.492)
As odd as you might think it is after last week's game we improved in game efficiency overall. Our rankings improved on defense but our overall value dropped, which is why our FEI is lower.
45th overall (.072). 77th in game efficiency (-.080), 37th in strength of schedule (.130), 110th in offensive efficiency (-.547), 38th in defensive efficiency (-.260), 41st in field position (.524)
Wow - talk about opponent adjustments! The game efficiency says that Washington is pretty poor - that's how they've played on an absolute basis. But throw in adjustments and they go from 77th to 45th! That's pretty crazy. As far as similar scores go, Washington is worse than Fresno or Arizona. They are similar to Fresno in defensive value (-.264 for Fresno to -260 to Washington).
Also, wow - does FEI not like the Pac-12 by comparison. Oregon's much lower than their S&P score, but Washington is waaaaaaay lower. Same is true for Arizona, Fresno, etc. Everyone's down.
As an aside, Washington fans have every right to trumpet the success of Wilcox and Tupoi so far; last year Washington had a defensive FEI of .410 (higher is worse), which was 103rd in the nation. Going to 38th is pretty insane. That being said, their offense was 24th (.306) last year and is now -.547. Ouch. Injuries have just crushed them, I suspect. Well, that and losing two senior receivers and a senior running back.
From FEI, Washington is the worst offense that Oregon has so far faced. The next worst that Oregon has faced is Washington State, 92nd with -.300.
For Washington, the best defense that they have faced is LSU (5th, -.868) and then Stanford (#12, -.612). Oregon's closer to Stanford than LSU as far as that goes. For offense, the best they've faced is San Diego State (38th, .227). Oregon beats that comfortably but not insanely so.
That is not a great recipe for success for Washington. The best they've done against two strong defenses is 17 points. Now, the good news is that they've had some success stopping okay offenses (albeit with a lot of turnover luck), but they've not faced anything as good as Oregon's. Oregon, meanwhile, has not faced anything as frankly inept as the Washington offense; the Washington offense so far is closer to New Mexico State and Southern Miss than anything else in the Pac-12.
if this sounds a lot like what Fresno is like - well, not exactly. Fresno is actually much better in offense and field position than Washington is. I would expect about the same result or better than that game.
So what does this mean?
This Washington team is significantly different than Washington teams faced in the last few years - a team which is strong on defense and wins through defense first and foremost. They are more disciplined, more able to adapt, faster and significantly better coached.
Unfortunately their offense is not at the same level it's been in the last few years under Sarkisian. And that comes at a bad time when facing the best defense Oregon has had in the last 5 years. Similarly, while Oregon's offense is the least consistent it's been in 3 years and in theory Washington should be able to pounce, it's being held in Autzen this year which limits a lot of the pain.
Expect a big win - potentially bigger than last year depending on our turnover luck. And expect to cover the spread.