The rivalry between the Washington Huskies and the Oregon Ducks predates my existence by 91 years. Washington is ranked #16 nationally this year, making UW Oregon’sfirst ranked opponent this season. For both teams, this is an important game, with high bowl implications and the fire of rivalry running hot.
Part of the reason for the animosity between the two teams is a 30-minute Husky dance that took place on the big “O” at Autzen when the Ducks lost there in 2002. That year, Washington thoroughly rubbed the victory in, both figuratively and literally, by trampling all over their fallen opponents’ turf in football cleats. Redemption did come for the Ducks after this sitcom-lengthed humiliation. Since the infamous “O” dance, the Ducks have won 9 out of 10 contests against their estranged neighbors to the North. Whether or not the Huskies’ extended celebration and their subsequent losses are related remains a mystery.
Other than a narrow, 31-28 loss to #5-ranked Stanford last week, Washington has had a successful 2013 campaign. In their opener, the Huskies beat #19-ranked Boise State. Oregon has yet to beat a ranked opponent this season, by comparison.
The Huskies have claimed each of their victories by 10 or more points, and held Idaho State to 0 points, while racking up 56 points themselves. Nicholls State was nearly shut out against the Ducks, managing to put up only 3 points to Oregon’s 66.
Keith Price starts at QB for the Huskies, and has completed 71% of his passes, gaining nearly 1400 yards with 11 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. Oregon’s Mariota has yet to throw a pick this season, with 14 touchdowns on a 57 completion percentage, and he has compiled almost as many yards through the air as his Husky counterpart. A skilled rusher, Mariota also has 338 yards and 7 touchdowns on the ground, with a staggering average of 12 yards per carry. Price has 42 yards rushing on 27
carries with no rushing touchdowns.
De’Anthony Thomas twisted his ankle while juking a Cal defender on a slippery Autzen field 2 weeks ago, and is questionable for Saturday’s game. In his absence, Helfrich will probably opt for a tandem backfield of Byron Marshall and Thomas
Tyner, using Tyner on speed-oriented rushing plays, and Marshall on straight-up-the-gut, smashmouth runs. Marshall has 448 yards and 4 touchdowns this season, averaging 6.3 yards per carry, while Tyner has 5 touchdowns and 204 yards on 35 carries. The Huskies’ leading rusher is Bishop Sankey, who has 732 rushing yards, averages 5.6 yards per carry, and 7 touchdowns. Jessie Callier has scored 3 touchdowns and gained 163 yards with a 6.3 yard average for the Huskies.
Washington’s defense has managed to pick 7 passes this season, and recover a fumble this season. During a rainy game at Autzen, the Ducks took advantage of the inclement weather and recovered 4 fumbles against Cal; this season, Oregon has
picked 6 passes, and recovered 4 fumbles, excluding the extremely rainy game against the Cal Bears.
So far this season, Washington has played a harder schedule than Oregon. After losing by only 3 points to a top-5 team, the Huskies get another chance to bite one of the big dogs at 1:00 PM western time against the Ducks on Saturday. The
game will be televised on Fox Sports 1. #2 Oregon will get a chance to defend their ranking against their bitter rivals, #16 Washington, with rivalry bragging rights and BCS placement on the line.