If you missed Washington coach Chris Petersen’s Monday press conference, in which he was asked many times in many ways about the significance of the No. 5-ranked Huskies’ Saturday game at rival Oregon, let us offer a paraphrased summation:
It’s only important because it’s the next game against a good team. It’s not about the opponent. The streak? We don’t talk about the streak.
“These guys have been giving everything they can possibly give,” Petersen said of his team, unbeaten through five games and ranked in the top five for the first time since 2000. “So we just need to stick to that and stay focused and not pay attention to all the stuff that doesn’t really matter.”
It might not matter to him, but Oregon’s 12-year winning streak over Washington certainly matters to a large portion of the Huskies fanbase, many of whom expect this to be the year it finally ends.
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The Huskies, three days removed from a 44-6 thumping of seventh-ranked Stanford, are favored by 8.5 points over the Ducks, who have lost three consecutive games for the first time since 2007 and suffered a 51-33 beating at Washington State on Saturday.
This is a most enjoyable scenario for many UW fans, who can finally approach the 4:30 p.m. game against Oregon with a reasonable expectation of victory. It seems an irritating scenario for Petersen, a buttoned-up guy who bemoans preseason hype, scoffs at rankings and will never participate in rivalry-week banter.
He’s tightening the screws even more this week, making UW players off limits to media interviews until after Saturday’s game. He said he made that decision not because of this week’s opponent, but because UW’s players have “a lot on their plate.”
“I figured you guys had enough to write about without having to talk to those guys,” Petersen said.
Well, maybe. Longtime Oregon offensive line coach Steve Greatwood made it a little easier today, telling reporters in Eugene that yes, the week of the Washington game does feel a little different.
“It’s a big, big game,” Greatwood said, according to the Oregonian. “It’s a rivalry. We’ve had the upper hand and we intend to keep that for the next several years.”
Oh, also: “The streak’s not going to end.”
Don’t expect Petersen to return that volley.
After totaling a career-best three sacks against Stanford, Huskies linebacker Psalm Wooching was voted the Pac-12’s defensive player of the week.
Wooching, a fifth-year senior from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, was also named the Walter Camp Football national defensive player of the week. He has 4.5 sacks this season, and is the first UW player this year to be voted Pac-12 player of the week.
EXTRA POINTS: Oregon announced Monday that it will wear navy-blue-and-yellow “Webfoots” uniforms (think Cal colors) for Saturday’s game, an homage to the Ducks’ 1916 nickname. … Washington has 15-to-2 odds to win the College Football Playoff championship, according to the sports betting website Bovada. Those are the fourth-best odds on the board, behind Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State. … Washington State announced Monday that this year’s Apple Cup game, slated for Nov. 25 at Martin Stadium in Pullman, has sold out.
UW Huskies opponent this week
OREGON DUCKS (2-3 overall, 0-2 in Pac-12)
4:30 P.M. SATURDAY, AUTZEN STADIUM, FOX, 1000-AM, 97.7 FM
COACH: Mark Helfrich (35-11 in 4th year at Oregon and overall)
AGAINST THE HUSKIES: Washington leads the series 58-45-5.
SCOUTING REPORT: Washington hasn’t beaten Oregon since 2003, but the Huskies enter this game favored by eight points, and for good reason. The Ducks look to be on their way down, riding a three-game losing streak for the first time since 2007 after dropping a 51-33 decision last week at Washington State. … Oregon’s primary issue is its defense, which under first-year coordinator Brady Hoke has struggled to stop either of its first two Pac-12 opponents. Last week, WSU rushed for 280 yards on 40 carries and wound up with 651 yards of total offense. The Ducks rank 89th nationally in yards per play allowed and 109th in scoring defense. … UW’s chief concern defensively will be Ducks tailback Royce Freeman, a 5-foot-11, 230-pound junior who combines power and speed better than most backs in the country. He ranks 28th nationally in total rushing yards and 14th in yards per carry at 8.27. His seven rushing touchdowns are tied for seventh-most in the country. … Dakota Prukop, Oregon’s fifth-year senior quarterback, has completed 66.2 percent of his passes for 1,173 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions. … Oregon’s issues have stemmed partially from several injuries to key players, including receiver Devon Allen (out for the season), left tackle Tyrell Crosby (out for the season) and linebacker Johnny Ragin (reportedly out for the season).
WSU COUGARS OPPONENT THIS WEEK
No. 15 STANFORD CARDINAL (3-1 overall, 2-1 in Pac-12)
7:30 P.M. SATURDAY, STANFORD STADIUM, ESPN, 710 AM
COACH: David Shaw (57-15 in 6th year at Stanford and overall)
AGAINST THE COUGARS: Stanford leads the series 40-25-1.
SCOUTING REPORT: The Cardinal limp into this game after a 44-6 defeat at Washington in which Stanford allowed eight sacks and rushed for only 29 yards on 30 carries, by far the worst loss of the David Shaw era. And WSU should already be confident it can compete with the Cardinal after the Cougars came within a last-second missed field goal of toppling Stanford in Pullman last season. … Stanford is also dealing with several key injuries. It played without its top two cornerbacks, its starting fullback, an offensive lineman, a receiver and a tight end against the Huskies. … Junior tailback Christian McCaffrey averages 121.3 yards rushing per game, and Stanford will try to get him the ball however it can. … Cardinal quarterback Ryan Burns hasn’t shown much with his arm this season, throwing for only 546 yards in four games. He was sacked six times by UW’s defense. … Stanford only allowed three touchdowns in its first three games, but gave up six to the Huskies. UW picked on the Cardinal’s backup cornerbacks, and WSU will surely do the same if Stanford’s starters are out again.