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Washington should handle QB-crippled Oregon State

Fifth-ranked Washington had high expectations coming into this season, but the bar has been raised even higher as the Huskies try to stay on a path to the College Football Playoff.

The Huskies (6-0, 3-0 Pac-12) are coming off a bye week and shouldn't have to worry about much other than style points Saturday when they take on Oregon State (2-4, 1-2) at Husky Stadium, beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET.

If Washington can run the table, win its first conference title since 2000 and go 13-0, it would be a virtual lock for one of the four spots in the playoff.

Washington entered the season at No. 14 in the AP poll, which was a lot of faith following the program's 7-6 record in 2015.

"We've had that since the start of this season," Washington coach Chris Petersen said about expectations at his Monday press conference. "I was so irritated with you guys and you were so irritated with me. So, it hasn't changed. I mean that sincerely. You guys want to keep putting these expectations on these kids and all this stuff. All we're trying to do is win the next game. ...

"That's one of the big battles that we have as a team, as a coaching staff, is to keep these guys focused on being focused. We had that exact conversation yesterday."

The last time out, Washington sophomore quarterback Jake Browning threw for a school-record six touchdown passes and ran for two more scores when the Huskies smacked Oregon 70-21, snapping a 12-game skid to the Ducks.

Oregon State has a win over California and a narrow loss to 19th-ranked Utah in its last two games.

"We have confidence in ourselves," OSU senior receiver Victor Bolden said. "We know we can compete with any team in the country."

The Beavers' challenge is increased because Oregon State's top two quarterbacks are unable to play. Starter Darell Garretson will miss the rest of the season with a left ankle injury, and backup Conor Blount is sidelined indefinitely with a left knee injury. Both were hurt in Saturday's 19-14 loss to Utah in wet and windy conditions.

That means the Beavers will start third-stringer Marcus McMaryion, a sophomore who has completed only 41 percent of his passes (32 of 76) in his brief playing time over two seasons. True freshman Mason Moran will be pulled off the scout team so he will be ready to play. Coaches still hope to preserve his redshirt season.

Another option could be wide receiver Seth Collins, an athletic threat who started seven games at quarterback last season. He has a team-high 26 receptions this season, and has also taken direct snaps from center.

Washington is first in the conference in scoring (49.5 points per game) and scoring defense (14.2).

The Huskies, after a cupcake non-conference schedule of Rutgers, Idaho and Portland State, needed overtime to win at Arizona, but then beat Stanford and Oregon by a combined 114-27.

"They are very dominant for most of the time," said Oregon State coach Gary Andersen.

"They are dominant physically; they are dominant from a speed standpoint. Their quarterback is very, very good at handling the offense, making the plays when they need to, good touch on the ball ... and he has very talented players that he's throwing the ball to and handing off to.

"On defense, they play with some juice, energy and excitement. There is a lot of talent."

Washington has several defensive players who are expected to high NFL draft picks, including five in NFLDraftScout.com's top 100 overall prospects -- safety Budda Baker (No. 32), cornerback Sidney Jones (No. 36), defensive tackle Vita Vea (No. 40), defensive tackle Elijah Qualls (No. 65) and linebacker Azeem Victor (No. 98).

Speedy receiver/returner John Ross (30 catches for 371 yards and nine touchdowns) is rated No. 52 by NFLDraftScout.com. Browning (No. 1 nationally in passing efficiency with a rating of 204.9) and running back Myles Gaskin (team-high 599 rushing yards) are true sophomores and not eligible until the 2018 draft.

On defense, Washington is able to apply pressure with its front four, allowing it to devote extra personnel in coverage. That's one of the reasons the Huskies allow only 177.3 passing yards per game, and they figure to make life difficult Saturday for Oregon State's new quarterback.

This week, Petersen is definitely dealing with high expectations for an easy win.

"I think one of the things that's been so great about these guys is how they've competed with an edge," he said. "Everything on the outside kind of works against that right now."