Beavers at Huskies
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. at Husky Stadium.
Records: Oregon State (2-4, 1-2), Washington (6-0, 3-0)
TV/Radio: Pac-12 Wash./107.1-FM
Overview: The run that No. 5 Washington has been on for most of this season, surging in the polls and into the discussion for the College Football Playoff, is rooted in what happened at the end of 2015. And it all started with a trip to Oregon State. Last November, Washington was floundering, not flourishing. The Huskies had lost four of five and were coming off a fourth-quarter meltdown in a loss at Arizona State. Washington needed wins in its final two games to become bowl eligible and started the surge that has carried into this season with a 52-7 blowout of the Beavers. Now Oregon State comes around again, with the Huskies on a nine-game winning streak. After two straight emotional victories and a week off, can the Huskies avoid a lull ahead of next week’s showdown at No. 19 Utah? “That’s one of the big battles that we have as a team, as a coaching staff, is to keep these guys focused on being focused. We had that conversation (this week),” Washington coach Chris Petersen said. “I think that’s an every week topic. I really do. I think it’s really, really important. It’s as important as anything we can do. It’s just the nature of the beast, as we know. But for us and for our guys the most important thing is just to pay attention to Oregon State and try to play a little bit better and play better as a team.” It’s hard for Washington to be much better than the last time out, when it ended a 12-game losing streak to rival Oregon with a 70-21 pummeling of the Ducks.
Tim Booth, AP
Vandals at Mountaineers
Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. at Kidd Brewer Stadium, Boone, North Carolina.
Records: Idaho (4-3, 2-1), Appalachian State (4-2, 2-0)
Overview: The Idaho defense isn’t a finished product, but it’s improving. Because of that, Appalachian State coach Scott Satterfield said this is the most complete Vandals team he’s seen the last three years. “Their offense and kicking games have always been good,” Satterfield said, “but this year they’re a much better defensive team, creating a lot of turnovers, running to the ball, tackling well, and making teams drive (the) field for scores.” As much as Satterfield is impressed with UI’s progress, Vandals coaches are even more wowed by Appalachian State. Not just this year’s team, but the program overall. “They’re a team as a coach you like to watch on tape,” Idaho coach Paul Petrino said. “They play the game the way it’s supposed to be played. They have great effort. They’re very fundamentally sound. They do things right.” The Mountaineers, who went 11-2 last season, nearly knocked off Tennessee to start the year and have allowed a total of three points in their last two wins. The Sun Belt’s top defense has two of the league’s top sack artists (Antonious Sims and Dezmin Reed) and one of the league’s most productive defensive backs (Mondo Williams).
Wildcats at Pirates
Kickoff: 1 p.m. at the Pine Bowl
Records: Whitworth (5-1, 3-0 NWC), Linfield (4-1, 3-0 NWC)
Overview: Get ready for a shootout. The last two unbeaten teams in the Northwest Conference square off with the league championship likely on the line. No. 8 Linfield again has the horses on offense, averaging 501.8 yards a game while giving up 293.6. The Pirates, who ran 103 plays in a come-from-behind 45-41 win last week at Pacific Lutheran, also gain yards by the chunk. Quarterback Ian Kolste and his Whitworth offense average 550.5 yards a game, but the defense is surrendering almost as much (513). Whitworth will be without starting safety Ben Stockdale, who broke a thumb that required surgery. Several other players have been fighting sickness. Still, the team has practiced well this week and Whitworth has shown it can move the ball on anyone. Last year, the Pirates got crushed 52-10 before meeting the Wildcats again in the playoffs and falling 48-18. Whitworth gets back senior receiver Chase Naccarato, who has been fighting leg and shoulder injuries. With a win, Linfield would clinch its 61st consecutive winning season, a streak unsurpassed at any level of college football.