KERRY SAYS: Don't bet on an upset
Things don't get easier for Oregon State when it plays host to sixth-ranked Washington on Saturday at Reser Stadium. They get more difficult.
The Huskies are loaded. They flexed their muscles in last Saturday's 37-10 romp at Colorado in a rematch of last year's Pac-12 championship game.
Washington has averaged 44.5 points per game in outscoring its first four opponents, 178-47. Quarterback Jake Browning remains in contention for the Heisman Trophy. Against Colorado, Myles Gaskin carried 207 times for 202 yards and two touchdowns.
The Huskies, OSU coach Gary Andersen says, "are damn good. Crazy as it sounds, they're a notch better than they were a year ago, now that they've found the running game."
Washington's offensive line is "very gifted." Will Dissly "is as good as you'll see as a blocking tight end." Gaskin is a "great running back." Receiver Dante Pettis "is a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball."
The Huskies' defense, led by junior linebacker Ben Burr-Kirvens (32 tackles), "is solid, stacked with good players."
Then there is Browning, the 6-2, 210-pound junior who has completed 69 of 99 passes (69.7 percent) for 958 yards and nine touchdowns with two interceptions.
"He doesn't have the rocket arm some other guys have," Andersen says, "but he's a proven winner, a leader, very smart, a good scrambler. He's the quarterback on a great team, which makes him great."
Oregon State will be without quarterback Jake Luton, who suffered a thoracic spine fracture against Washington State. In his place will be Darell Garretson, the plucky senior who started the first six games before sustaining a season-ending broken foot a year ago.
Garretson doesn't have Luton's arm but is a more effective runner. The Beavers will depend more on the ground game against Washington. That would likely mean more carries for Ryan Nall and perhaps Artavis Pierce behind him. Offensive coordinator Kevin McGiven used a two-back set, with both Nall and Pierce, more often against Washington State.
"We have to use those guys where we can be the most successful," Andersen says. "We'd like to be able to control the clock and keep the ball away from (Washington's) offense. Darrell has the ability to move around the pocket in the throw game. Hopefully, the threat with his legs will be a positive for us."
Thirty-two years ago, a Dave Kragthorpe-coached Oregon State team ventured to Seattle as a 38-point underdog and pulled off a colossal 21-20 upset victory. A win Saturday would be just as monumental.
But don't bet on it.
THE PICK: Washington 41, Oregon State 17