Way back in October of 1984 a Washington fan in the east end zone at Husky Stadium responded with a chant when the Oregon Ducks took a second quarter lead. "It just doesn't matter! It just doesn't matter!" As it turned out, he was right. The Number One ranked Huskies beat the Ducks 17-10 that blustery fall day.
Boy have times changed! Saturday afternoon it's the Oregon Ducks (5-0 overall, 2-0 in conference) that come north with a dynamic offense, a quick defense, supercharged uniforms and the Number Two ranking in all the land. Not only does it matter to Washington, some might say it's ALL that matters. It's Oregon at Washington in what may be the Huskies's most important statement game in recent history.
The Huskies (4-1, 1-1) needed a break just one week after losing an emotional game at Stanford. They got that very break when Oregon's fastest blur, De'Anthony Thomas, was ruled doubtful for the contest. Thomas rolled his ankle two weeks ago against Cal and has been in a walking boot most of the time since then.
However, Oregon does not come into the game unarmed. Far from it. Sophomore quarterback Marcus Mariota has been mentioned as a Heisman candidate after accounting for seven touchdowns at Colorado last week. He has thrown 14 touchdown passes without an interception this year. He will have some fast wideouts to throw to in Josh Huff, Bralon Addison, and Keanon Lowe. Expect Byron Marshall and highly touted freshman Thomas Tyner to carry the rock on the ground for the Ducks.
The Huskies counter with the pinpoint passing of senior quarterback Keith Price. On a record setting 70%+ completion pace, Price will be looking for tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, as well as speedsters Kasen Williams, Jayden Mickens, and Kevin Smith.
But the outcome of this game probably rests on the ball control efforts of Bishop Sankey. The junior runner from Spokane's Gonzaga Prep is averaging 146.4 yards per game, good for first in the conference and fourth in the nation. If Washington can keep Oregon's offense playing the part of spectators at the rushing show, Washington can pull off the upset that their fans have craved for the last ten years. Washington's last victory over Oregon was November 1, 2003. College freshmen were seven years old at the time.
Las Vegas lists the Ducks as a 13.5 point favorite. The view from here is fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, fool me nine times, I'll take the Ducks and give the points.
The game will be carried on FoxSports1 locally. It can be heard on the Washington IMG radio network. Radio pregame begins at 8:00 a.m. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. PDT.
This one may not be for all the marbles, but it's for enough of them to be bigger than big for fans of the Huskies. Let's do this!