EUGENE – Chris Petersen found success against Oregon while he was coach at Boise State. So it follows that there would be talk about whether he could do the same with his new team, Washington.
After all, the Huskies haven’t been able to beat the rival Ducks in their last 10 meetings, so fans are getting understandably antsy.
Under Petersen, the Broncos beat Oregon twice, first in Eugene in 2008 and then in Boise to open the 2009 season. The second loss was memorable for the Ducks because it was Chip Kelly’s debut as head coach.
But Petersen, who also was an assistant at Oregon from 1995-2000, said this week he doesn’t really remember what the Broncos’ defense did to slow Kelly’s high-speed spread option.
“It was a long time ago. I just know the kids played hard. Two good teams going at it,” he said. “I don’t remember the details other than guys played really, really hard and effective.”
Needless to say, Petersen’s not pulling out the tape of Boise State’s victory to prepare for this evening, when the Huskies (5-1, 1-1 Pac-12) visit the No. 9 Ducks (5-1, 2-1).
“We’re talking about an elite program in the country, not only in our conference,” Petersen said about the Ducks. “And so to me, you know what Oregon’s going to do. So this all comes back to us. How are we going to play?”
The Huskies are coming off a 31-7 rout of California last Saturday at Berkeley. Cyler Miles threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns, and Shaq Thompson returned a fumble 100 yards for a score.
Oregon’s last outing was a 42-30 rebound victory over the UCLA Bruins, which popped the Ducks back into the top 10 after their loss to Arizona the previous week. Freshman Royce Freeman became Oregon’s first 100-plus yard rusher of the season with 121 yards and two touchdowns.
Here are some other things to consider when the Huskies play the Ducks at Autzen Stadium:
Remembering the pick
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Kenny Wheaton’s legendary interception against Washington that many say was the impetus for Oregon’s rise to national prominence. To this day, “The Pick” is played before every home game at Autzen Stadium. Today, the Ducks will wear bright green throwback jerseys for the occasion, and fans can buy their own No. 20 jersey for $150.
Washington linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha leads the nation with 10 sacks, including three against Cal. He also leads all FBS players with an average of 13.5 tackles for loss. Fellow linebacker Thompson, whose 100-yard fumble return for a touchdown was a Washington record, has returned three fumbles for TDs this season. It was his fourth overall defensive touchdown and fifth score for the season.
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota needs three touchdown passes to pass Stanford’s Andrew Luck (82) on the Pac-12 career list. So far, he’s got 17 TDs passing and five rushing. He’s also thrown 205 passes without an interception dating back to last year. Mariota already holds the Pac-12 record with 353 straight passes without an interception.
After Utah’s victory at Oregon State on Thursday night, Pac-12 teams on the road are 15-4 this season. The Ducks were on the losing end of that unusual stat when they fell to Arizona at Autzen on Oct. 2. Likewise, the Huskies lost to Stanford at home on Sept. 27.
“I just think our conference is talented top to bottom this year,” Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost said. “You’re not going to get a week off in this conference, and then on top of that, we play nine conference games. We got our kids dialed in. It’s going to be a battle every week.”
The Ducks’ 10-game winning streak in the series dates back to 2003, when Petersen was offensive coordinator at Boise State, with Oregon averaging a 25.4-point margin of victory over the span. But overall, Washington still owns a 58-43-5 advantage in the series that goes back 113 years.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.