Washington Huskies football coach Chris Petersen doesn’t want you to pay attention to Oregon State’s atrocious statistics.
He doesn’t care that the Beavers rank last in the Pac-12 in 12 different categories.
He rolls his eyes at the numbers that show the Beavers are one of the 15 worst in the country in total defense (485.5 yards), scoring defense (47.5 points), pass defense (286.8 ypg), third-down defense (converting at 51.9 percent rate), sacks (three) and tackles for loss (18).
“Stats are for losers,” Petersen said.
“They are deceiving in a lot of ways. The game just changes so much from week to week.”
Regardless, sixth-ranked UW has a chance to add to those totals and extend the Beavers misery when it travels to Corvallis for the second of back-to-back Pac-12 road games.
Sure, when Petersen and his coaching staff watch the game film of Beavers’ games, they see mistakes being made everywhere, at all levels on both sides of the ball.
But they also see that Oregon State is in the midst of a challenging stretch in its schedule.
Seven of the Beavers’ first eight games, including the one Saturday against the UW, are against opponents who played in a bowl game a season ago.
Four of those schools (UW, USC, Colorado, Stanford) won 10 or more games in 2016. Those same seven teams have started this season with a combined 22-5 record.
Huskies quarterback Jake Browning, whose father, Ed, played for the Beavers in 1990-91, agrees with his coach that the Oregon State is better than its stats and 1-3 record.
“I don’t think Oregon State is a bad team, either. They are a couple plays away from being a really good team – with a really good record,” Browning said.
“It’s just a couple little things here and there that change games. They’ve missed a couple of those. But they are coming off a bye week … and they can throw some stuff at you.”
That is the most unsettling thing for the Huskies this week. Oregon State has had a chance to gather itself, get healthy and regroup during a bye week – one of three times a UW opponent will get that break in the schedule this season.
And by Beavers coach Gary Andersen’s tone, the team needed the week off to fix its major issues.
“We are where we are,” Andersen said. “If you put your head down and all of a sudden you start listening to all of the noises, then you’ve got some real problems.”
First and foremost, Andersen has to find a way to get his underwhelming defensive line to match up with the suddenly-surging Huskies’ offensive line, which had its best game of the season a week ago in a 37-10 UW victory at Colorado.
“They’re … one of the best teams I have ever been around using its (pulling linemen),” Andersen said. “I’ve said it before, the guys in those skill positions … should be talked about. But the offensive line and defensive lines are difference-makers.”
Here is one stat you should pay attention to: Petersen is 5-1 all-time coaching against Oregon State (two wins at Boise State, three wins at UW).
And that’s likely another stat Petersen doesn’t care about.
“Every week, it’s reload and reset, and get ready to play your best football,” Petersen said. “It doesn’t matter what anybody on the outside says, I know how hard and how much pride those guys have, and how hard they’ll play us.”
No. 6 Washington (4-0) at Oregon State (1-3)
5 p.m. PDT Saturday, Reser Stadium, Corvallis, Oregon
The line: UW by 27.
TV: Pac-12 Network.
Radio: 1000-AM, 97.7 FM
Outlook: Before the season, many thought if there was a team set to make a big jump forward, it would be Gary Andersen’s crew in Corvallis.
That just hasn’t happened.
The Beavers have been a total disaster on one side of the ball – defense. They give up 485.5 points per game. Opponents have tallied 25 touchdowns against the unit. And even if they can get an opposing offense in third down, they give up a 51.9 percent conversion rate. All rank in the bottom five in FBS.
OSU’s offense has not been much better. Even before he suffered a brutal hit and was knocked out of the game two weeks ago against Washington State, first-year starting quarterback Jake Luton was inefficient, at best, running the attack. He is out indefinitely, which means senior Darell Garretson will start for the foreseeable future.
And yet all week, UW coach Chris Petersen noted reviewing game film, Oregon State is not that far away from being a good football team.
How can the Beavers even scare this UW defense? Well, tailback Ryan Nall, who did not play against the Huskies a season ago, needs to have a career day. Nall (118 yards) notched his eighth career 100-yard rushing game at WSU, and is not only big (6-foot-2, 237 pounds), he has breakaway speed (three 75-yard runs in his career).
Yet, even coming out of a bye week, this is a tough spot for the Beavers to rebound and get their season going.
In all three phases, nobody in the Pac-12 is playing more mistake-free football right now than the Huskies.
Jake Browning (69 of 99, 958 yards, nine TDs) has been quietly terrific, and has been taking shots downfield when he needs to. Tailback Myles Gaskin (51 rushes, 355 yards, five TDs) quieted critics of the team’s rushing attack with a career-best 202 yards last week against Colorado.
Minus two opening drives against Rutgers and the Buffaloes, the defense has been in lockdown mode. UW has eight interceptions, second-most in the conference behind Utah’s nine. The Huskies are giving up just 2.7 yards per rushing attempt. And they have allowed just three offensive touchdowns.
The UW has won five games in a row against this team, including a 41-17 win at Husky Stadium last season. That streak will reach six come Saturday night.
The pick: Washington 51, Oregon State 18.
– Todd Milles, staff writer