Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

November 12, 2018 at 10:42 pm.

Huskies close out home slate vs. Oregon State

A national championship is out of the question, but No. 17 Washington can still stock its trophy case if it wins out.

The Huskies (7-3, 5-2 Pac-12) come off their bye week with two games remaining in the regular season, and a pretty simple formula: Win both, and they represent the North division in the Pac-12 Championship Game on Nov. 30 in Santa Clara.

Washington’s final two contests pit the Huskies against opponents on polar-opposite ends of the Pac-12 spectrum. Before an Apple Cup showdown with currently top 10-ranked and College Football Playoff-contending Washington State, the Huskies host last-place Oregon State.

The Beavers (2-8, 1-6) were on the receiving end of any lingering frustration Stanford felt from Washington’s 27-23 win over the Cardinal a week earlier. Stanford poured for 596 yards of offense in a 48-17 rout of the Beavers, including 244 on the ground on just 30 carries.

It’s been a trying first season for Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith, who returns to Husky Stadium after a four-year stint as Washington’s offensive coordinator. Still, because of Smith’s familiarity with the program, Huskies coach Chris Petersen said in his weekly press conference his staff will “have to make some tweaks” in preparation for this week.

One tweak may well be heightened emphasis on the run game. Dealing recently with injuries to Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed — typically the No. 1 and 2 ball-carrier in the Washington — the Huskies averaged just 2.8 and 3.9 yards per carry in their last two outings.

Meanwhile, Oregon State comes to town allowing 271.5 rushing yards per game. Only Louisville ranks worse among Power Five conference programs.

On paper, Washington should cruise to ensure next week’s Apple Cup showdown with Washington State is a de facto Pac-12 North championship game. It’s also the last home hurrah for a group of seniors who were instrumental in restoring Washington as a conference championship contender.

“I hope that they’re really focused on the game, and not too wrapped up in the last one in Husky Stadium,” Petersen said. “We’ve got a lot more ball to play and practice here. But you hope they’re appreciating all that they’ve been through, and all that they’ve accomplished.”