#13 Washington (0-0) vs. Eastern Washington (0-0)
Saturday, August 31st @ 12:00 p.m. PST
Husky Stadium (Seattle, Washington)
Line: Washington -21.0
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Radio: KOMO AM-1000/FM-97.7
The Washington Huskies will face off against the Eastern Washington Eagles at Husky Stadium for the season opener.
Recently, the Huskies concluded their fall camp and enter the season as the #13 ranked team in the nation in the AP Poll.
This week, the Huskies enter this cross-state matchup as heavy favorites against the Eagles from the Big Sky Conference.
Last season, Eastern Washington finished the season with a 12-3 overall record and enter this season as the #3 ranked FCS team in the country.
“I think everybody in this country has a lot of respect for Eastern Washington!” Petersen said.
Both teams come into this contest with some new faces in the fold. Washington lost 9 starters on defense from last season and Eastern Washington loses a senior class of 25 players.
Offensively, the Eagles are an explosive group and come off a successful season where they averaged 43.1 points per game.
Defensively, the Huskies enter this game with a young defense which ranked 5th in the nation last season with only allowing 16.4 points per game.
Something has to give in this contest between the vaunted Eagles offense and the fast and physical Husky defense.
KEY PLAYERS: WASHINGTON
QB – Jacob Eason
The transfer from Georgia was named the starter last week after fall camp. He has all the tools and intangibles to be the next great quarterback at Washington with his immense arm strength and massive height.
DB – Myles Bryant
Heart and soul leader of the defense, Bryant has embraced his transition from nickle to safety this past offseason. Last season, he was named to the second team All-Pac-12 team.
OL – Trey Adams
Returning for his 5th season with the Huskies, the star left tackle was just named to the second team AP Preseason All-America team. Adams is one of the top lineman in the nation and enters the season full healthy this year.
KEY PLAYERS: EASTERN WASHINGTON
QB – Eric Barriere
A Hero Sports Preseason First Team All-American selection, Barriere boasts a 9-2 record as a starter through 11 games. When he rushes for 20-plus yards, the Eagles have an 8-0 record.
OL – Spencer Blackburn
Listed as a center, Blackburn enters the season as one of the most experienced lineman on the team with starting 37 out of 39 games during his career. He is a Hero Sports Preseason Second Team All-American selection.
DL – Mitchell Johnson
Lasts season, Johnson notched a total of 31 tackles, 8 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. He was named to the Hero Sports Freshman All-American Team and also for Phil Steele publications.
ESPN MATCHUP PREDICTOR
– Washington and Eastern Washington have faced one another just twice in the two teams’ history, but both games have gone down to the wire – with the Huskies coming out on top in each.
– The 2019 meeting will have a similar feel to 2015 when the Eagles were ranked second in FCS and the Huskies were 25th in FBS. Eastern lost that game 59-52, just a year after the Eagles upset nationally-ranked Oregon State 49-46 on the road in 2013. In 2011, the Eagles fell at Washington by a slim 30-27 score after entering that game as the defending champions in FCS.
– Washington hasn’t allowed an opponent to score more than 35 points in a game since a 44-30 loss at UCLA in 2014 – one of only three games in Chris Petersen‘s UW tenure that an opponent has scored more than 35 points.
– Washington has won 32 games over the last three years (32-9), the highest three-year wins total in UW history and the only time that the Huskies have posted double-digit wins in three straight seasons
– A total of 47 returning letterwinners are on EWU’s roster as Best begins his third season at the helm. The Eagles return nine total starters – five on offense and four on defense – with 23 letterwinners back on offense, 24 on defense and a kicker.
– Both schools had monumental 2018 campaigns, with Eastern finishing 12-3 and as the runner-up in FCS. Washington was 10-4 overall and 7-2 in the Pac-12 North Division. Washington beat Utah 10-3 in the league championship game, then fell 28-23 to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.
The Huskies will start their season opener as heavy favorites over the Eagles. With this year’s version of the Huskies, there are questions surrounding the team. Will the offense find it’s way behind a promising quarterback in Eason? Will the defense stay elite and not skip a beat after losing 9 starters on defense? Will special teams vastly improve over a season ago? Will running back Salvon Ahmed fill to void for the departed Myles Gaskin? Is this the year that the pass rush finally makes an impact? Usually the first game of anybody’s season involves getting over nerves and finding a balance with playing clean football. I expect the Huskies to come out and play tight at first and then find their way towards the end of the first quarter. Once they find a way to “play free and cut it loose” as head coach Chris Petersen said recently, I expect the Huskies to be up 21-3 at halftime. In the second half, the Huskies capitalize on some halftime adjustments and open up the playbook some. The defense will settle and come up with a couple turnovers to help the offense settle down and secure the win. Eason looks efficient and shows glimpses of his skill and talent. Huskies win comfortably down the stretch without showing too much game film to the Cal Bears for the following week.
Washington 38 – Eastern Washington 13