Husky Game Like The Super Bowl

The No. 6 Oregon Ducks (7-1, 5-0) head north to play the Washington Huskies (6-2, 4-1) in the final game of the old Husky Stadium on Saturday. While fans of both teams may look at this game as something more than another game on the schedule, Oregon Head Coach Chip Kelly said on Tuesday the game with Washington is like the Super Bowl.

"It's the biggest game slated for us," said Kelly during his weekly media conference about the upcoming game with the Huskies. "We could care less about Alabama or LSU or anything, our sole focus and attention is Washington and we're treating it like we're going to play Washington in the Super Bowl."

Now before anyone starts scalping tickets, keep in mind that Kelly says that about every game on the schedule. Why would he do that? According to him it is to keep his team on track and also to help him keep his job. You see, Kelly believes that any coach that points to one game over another as something to hinge a season on is just asking for it. Especially in the Pac-12 where the level of competition is so tough, and he was so adamant about the question of rivalry games he spent a good deal of time to pointedly and clearly pronounce why he and his team don't take anyone lightly. Kelly maintains this next game is the only game they get to play this week so if he wants this player to be fully ready to play, he'd better get them motivated to play like there is no tomorrow.

"We've won a lot of football games since I've been here because we look at every game as the biggest game we play and if we don't face it that way we're going to get beat," Kelly said emphatically.

Kelly by the way is in his third year as head coach at Oregon and his teams have won 29 games while only losing five. Oregon has won 17 straight conference games and has won the conference championship for two-straight years. The Ducks have beaten the Huskies seven straight times, but overall Washington leads the series 58-40-5 and have a 33-23-4 edge in the 92-year old venue. The Ducks first appearance in it was in 1922 in a game that ended up a 3-3 tie.

Of course if you ask fans of both schools, they might agree this game is as big as the Super Bowl. Husky fans, smarting from losing seven straight times to the arch-rivals love to tell Duck fans to win something big and then "pop off." Duck fans can respond that their team has been ranked in 23 consecutive BCS Standings, including the last 14 in the top 10, dating to Nov. 16, 2008.

"Big deal," say many Husky fanatics. The Dawgs won the mythical national championship.

"Well, the Ducks have LaMichael James."

"We've got Chris Polk."

"We've got De'Anthony Thomas."

"We've got Austin Seferian-Jenkins."

And so on and on and on.

Kelly though when asked what Washington is doing better this year than last was very complimentary of what Washington Coach Steve Sarkisian is accomplishing up in Seattle.

"They're winning games," said Kelly. "I think they are playing better as a team."

Kelly went on to explain that Washington has solid veteran leadership in players like receivers Devin Aguilar and Jermaine Kearse not to mention Polk, one of the top running backs in the country.

"I think offensively they are very explosive; (it) starts with the running back," explained Kelly. "He (Polk) can beat you catching and running it; (and) very talented back up in (Jesse) Callier. "

When Kelly gets to Washington's signal caller, Keith Price, the love fest really starts.

"They lost the No. 8 pick in the NFL draft in Jake Locker and Keith (Price) has come in and has really minted up," observed Kelly. "He benefits from two veteran receivers and even the other guys, James Johnson who's played a ton of football is a third-year guy for them, and a true freshmen tight end in Austin Seferian-Jenkins who may be the best young tight end in the country. He's got a lot of weapons."

Kelly credits Sarkisian with putting the players in positions to make plays with a good scheme.

The game should be monumental, not only because it's the last game at Husky Stadium but it also matches two of the most outstanding rushing attacks in the country. Oregon is the second leading scoring team in the conference at 47.5 ppg while Washington is fourth at 35.6. Oregon is third in defense allowing 21.2 ppg to Washington's 33.4 (10th). The Ducks are first in total offense at 526.9 ypg to the Huskies 429.6. Oregon leads the way in the conference rushing for 309.2 ypg while Washington is fourth at 174.1. Washington's passing game is good for 255.5 ypg (eighth) while Oregon is the conference No. 10 passing team at 217.6.

James is the leading runner in the conference at 150.6 ypg, but Polk is second at 127.0 and actually has more yards (1,016) than James (905). James missed two games because of an injured elbow and his replacement Kenjon Barner is fifth in the conference at 93.3 ypg. In conference games, Barner is averaging 110.6 yards. Callier has 35 carries for 190 yards and a touchdown.

Aguilar has 28 catches for 427 yards and three touchdowns. Kearse has 31 grabs for 395 yards and six scores. Johnson is the third leading Husky receiver with 26 receptions for 330 yards and three TDs.

Oregon's leading receiver is De'Anthony Thomas with 25 catches for 382 yards. Lavasier Tuinei has pulled down 24 balls for 335 yards, crossing the goal line seven times. Tight end David Paulson after a slow start now has 14 catches for 167 yards and three TDs.

The two freshmen sensations, Saferain-Jenkins and De'Anthony Thomas have some impressive numbers. Seferain-Jenkins has 21 catches for 335 yards and four touchdowns. Thomas is the conference's fourth best in scoring touchdowns with 11 (six receiving, four rushing and one kick off return.)

Price has thrown 23 touchdown passes but has been picked off eight times. Oregon's Darron Thomas has 18 touchdown tosses and has been victimized by interceptions five times. If Darron Thomas is not ready to play on Saturday, backup quarterback Bryan Bennett has thrown for six touchdowns for the season and does not have an interception in 45 passing attempts.

The stage is set and maybe it might be for this week only, the best game of the year. For coaches and players the game has all their focus. For fans no doubt the Oregon-Washington game is something that will be played out on message boards, bar stools and tailgate parties for as long as the game of football is played.

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