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UW aspires to upset

With no success against top-10 teams, Dawgs play No. 6 Ducks

SEATTLE – It took only three games for Steve Sarkisian to make Husky Nation a congregation filled with believers. In the first month of his first regular season as head coach of the University of Washington football program, Sark made his people bark with joy when the Huskies knocked off third-ranked USC on Sept. 19, 2009.

But going from the depths of football frustration to respectability, it turns out, has been much easier than going from good to great.

In UW’s last three games against top-10 teams, the Huskies have been outscored 174-58 and come no closer than 34 points in any game.

On an historic night that will include the final game at Husky Stadium, pre-renovation, and a ceremony to honor the 1991 split national-title team, the Huskies have to wonder whether tonight’s the night to take that next step.

“Every game’s a good opportunity,” defensive tackle Alameda Ta’amu said as his team prepared for tonight’s game against sixth-ranked Oregon. “This would be a good game to win.”

In Year 3 of the Sarkisian era, the Huskies (6-2 overall, 4-1 Pac-12 Conference) have already earned bowl eligibility for the second time and dusted off six opponents with a combined 12-26 record.

What they have yet to do is beat a legitimate contender.

Yet the Sarkisian-led Huskies have a few upsets under their collective belt over the years. Two wins over USC, upsets of Cal and Oregon State, and a Holiday Bowl victory over Nebraska has UW confident that it can play with just about anyone.

“It just shows where our program is headed,” senior receiver Jermaine Kearse said. “We’re getting a lot of good wins. We’ll just go out there and play hard.”

The Huskies aren’t just overdue for a win against a team near the top of the rankings. They’re also more than ready to hand the Ducks a rare loss. Oregon has beaten UW in seven consecutive meetings, dating back to the Huskies’ 42-10 win in 2003.

Since then, the Ducks have outscored Washington 305-120 – an average of about 43-17 per game – while registering margins of at least 20 points in every victory.