NOTES/QUOTES/PLAYERS TO WATCH
-- Justin Herbert, QB: Herbert is the key that makes Oregon’s offense fly. By far he’s the Ducks’ best player and has proven time-and-time again how good he is, as evidenced by his 1,411 passing yards and 15 touchdowns on the season. But, for how good Herbert is, he’s yet to get a signature win against a top-tier defense. He did everything he could against Stanford earlier in the year, but the Ducks still came up short. This could be the last time the hometown-legend gets a chance for a big-time win, and what better scenario than against hated-rival Washington?
-- Jalen Jelks, DE: He will have to play one of his best games of his career if the Ducks are to emerge victorious. Jelks has had somewhat of a slow start after he burst onto the college football scene last year, but that can all change with a great performance against the Huskies. Jelks must put pressure on Washington quarterback Jake Browning, making him uncomfortable in the pocket and forcing him into bad throws. At the same time, Jelks must be a force against the run, containing Myles Gaskin and setting the edge. Doing both will prove to NFL scouts that Jelks is a legit prospect and probably help get his team the win.
-- Dillon Mitchell, WR: If Herbert is Oregon’s best offensive player, then Mitchell is arguably the most important. After a slow start to the season, Mitchell has been unstoppable his past two games, catching 21 passes for 344 yards and one score against two of the better pass defenses in the country. How Mitchell plays against Washington’s secondary will go a long in determining the outcome of this game, and potentially his NFL prospect status.
-- Troy Dye, LB: Dye will need a big game if the Ducks want any sort of opportunity at winning. Dye is Oregon’s most inspirational player, a leader who plays with his heart on his sleeve and wills his teammates to do better. Dye will be tasked with stopping Gaskin, Washington’s career-setting running back, while also playing well in pass defense. While his stats will be needed, Dye’s most important role will be communication amongst the defense. It will be up to him to make sure the entire defense — particularly the secondary — is on the same page. The Ducks can’t afford breakdowns defensively if they want to win this game.
Series History: 60-45-5 Washington. From 2004-15, Oregon won 12 in a row but then in 2016, the Huskies exacted revenge with a 70-21 victory in Herbert’s first career start. Last year’s meeting ended with Washington winning 38-3 when Browning threw for two scores and Gaskin finished with 123 rushing yards and a score.
Quote to Note: “We also understand the importance of making sure that we attack practice and preparation with passion and not emotion," Cristobal said. "Because you have to make sure that at the end of the day, after that first series or so, some of that emotional stuff withers away, and you’re playing on your preparation and the passion you have for the game and your teammates.
-- DE Austin Failou is expected back this week after an ankle injury against Stanford caused him to miss the game against Cal two weeks ago.
-- RB Tony Brooks-James is back to running the ball after just fielding kickoffs two weeks ago against Cal.
-- TE Jacob Breeland will play after missing the game against Cal.
-- RB CJ Verdell is “good to go” after leaving the game against Cal with a shoulder injury
-- Backup QB Braxton Burmeister, who is ahead of schedule after having a minor knee operation last month, might practice this week.
-- QB Justin Herbert got his first career start against Washington two years ago, a 70-21 loss at home.
-- Oregon’s offensive line has a combined 113 starts.
-- Over his 20 games as a starting quarterback, QB Justin Herbert is leading the Ducks to an average of 42.3 points per game.
-- Safeties Jevon Holland and Ugochukwu Amadi each have three interceptions on the year, tying them for 4th nationally.
-- Oregon leads the Pac-12 with eight interceptions
-- The meeting between No. 17 Oregon and No. 7 Washington is the 16th time in Autzen Stadium history featuring two top-20 teams.
-- The Ducks are 10-4 in their last 14 games against ranked opponents at home.
-- Saturday will be Oregon’s third consecutive game against a nationally-ranked opponent.