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Kelly, Sarkisian play down Oregon-Washington rivalry

Sat., Oct. 6, 2012

EUGENE, Ore. – Oregon coach Chip Kelly seized on SpongeBob SquarePants when describing how the No. 2 Ducks feel about the past rivalry with the Washington Huskies.

He says most of the acrimony between the teams occurred more than a decade ago.

“We’ve got kids that are 17, 18, 19 years old. You talk 10 years ago, they were 7 and 8. At 7 and 8 they were SpongeBob SquarePants. They weren’t worried about Joey Harrington,” Kelly quipped.

“I think a lot of time people can bring up the past,” he added. “But we’re always trying to meet fast, practice fast, those things.

“We don’t have a whole heck of a lot of time to give them a history of games played against a certain opponent.”

While the Ducks (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) themselves may not buy into the hype over the rivalry, there’s still a lot of back-and-forth razzing between fans in the neighboring Pacific Northwest states. The No. 23 Huskies (3-1, 1-1) visit Autzen Stadium tonight.

The rivalry’s rancor goes back a while. Fans of both teams remember “The Pick” in 1994 when freshman cornerback Kenny Wheaton saved the day for the Ducks when he picked off a pass by Damon Huard and ran it back 97 yards for a score. The victory would send Oregon to the Rose Bowl – and a clip is still played on the video scoreboard for fans before every game at Autzen.

The Huskies raised the ire of Ducks’ fans in 2002 when, after beating Oregon 42-10, the team danced for a long time on the “O” on the 50-yard line at Autzen.

But the Ducks have won the last eight games between the teams, diminishing the rivalry’s intensity.

Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said the motivation isn’t in the rivalry, it’s in the No. 23 Huskies themselves.

“It’s not about that we’re playing Oregon or that it’s at Autzen or what uniforms they’re wearing or what uniforms we’re wearing. It’s about getting to 2-0 in conference play. That’s what all these guys think,” Sarkisian said.

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