The Washington Huskies ended their first season under Chris Petersen with a record of 8-5 and are playing a 6 -6 Oklahoma State Cowboys team that needed a miracle punt return to even qualify for a bowl game. However, in order to avoid a letdown in the Cactus Bowl, the Huskies are going to have to rely on their offense to get them out to an early lead and seize the momentum of the game.
The Huskies have struggled on offense this season, ranking 10th in the Pac-12 and 73rd in the FBS in total offense, averaging 390.2 yards per game. They have primarily relied on their run game to move the chains and get into the end zone, ranking third in the Pac-12 with an average of 195.3 yards per game on the ground, but ranking dead last in the conference with an average of just 194.8 yards through the air.
If they want to beat the Cowboys, they need to rely more on their passing game. Oklahoma State ranks 111th out of 125 teams in the FBS against the pass, allowing an average of 269.3 yards per game. Quarterback Cyler Miles didn’t have a great season for the Huskies, but he was an effective game manager, completing 66.7 percent of his passes for 16 touchdowns while throwing just three interceptions. After throwing for more than 200 yards just once in his first six games this season, he has accomplished the feat in four of his last five contests.
If the Huskies want the best chance to defeat the Cowboys, they need to mix more passes for Miles into their offense and continue their trend towards trusting him more as the season progresses. If they do, they should be able to take advantage of this mismatch and get out to an early lead and never look back.