As the Northwest Churns

Now that the cramp of a three-game losing streak has effectively soured the bowl plans for all but the most optimistic Husky fans, pained purple stomachs can now turn to the three-game season that is for the championship of the Pacific Northwest.

And if the current turns continue unabated, shareholders of Maalox will be smiling on Monday morning.

Oregon State (2-3, 6-3) at Washington (1-4, 4-5)
Saturday, November 10 - 12:35 PM (PDT) – No TV
Husky Stadium – Seattle, WA
Series All-time: Washington leads, 55-27-4
Last Meeting: November 10, 2001 – Oregon State 49, Washington 24
Line: Oregon State by 2 1/2

Combined, the triumvirate of Northwest rivals is a healthy 21-6, and it stands to reason that all three are licking their chops at taking their bites out of Washington. And unless the reeling Huskies show the game that's been closeted since the Michigan opener seemingly eons ago, it's fair to say Washington could go 0-3 in this round robin – which hasn't happened since 1973 (the Huskies did go 0-2 in 1988, a year they didn't play OSU).

Rick Neuheisel
(Getty Images)
The point is not lost on Coach Rick Neuheisel. "Each of the next three opponents will be taking their best shot to knock us into oblivion," understated Neuheisel, "starting with a hot Oregon State team. So it will take a tremendous amount of effort, pride and will power for us to stand up and not just go toe-to toe, but find ways to win."

"And everyone here is going to work on it. No one is crying tears of self-pity."

There are a few similarities between this one and the match up last November in Corvallis – only with the roles reversed. Last year, Washington went into Reser Stadium a 7-1 team and looking for that one defining moment that would label them as a repeat PAC-10 title contender; while Oregon State was a disappointing 3-5 off the heels of an 11-1, Fiesta Bowl championship season the year prior.

It was then that the Beavers played their most complete game of the year, crushing Husky Rose Bowl aspirations in 49-24 fashion. An argument can be made that it was the game that started the current mudslide Washington is wallowed in, for the Huskies have gone 5-8 since that sunny November day – with victories over Idaho, Wyoming and San Jose State during that span.

Now a year later, it is Oregon State heating up with two conference wins in a row (making them bowl eligible) and looking to climb the ladder with their first road victory of the season, while Washington – pre-season number two in the PAC-10 - is getting a good look at life at the bottom of the conference, just two years removed from the penthouse.

Dennis Erickson
(Getty Images)
"They've been going through some of the same things we went through," waxed Beaver coach Dennis Erickson on the Huskies ill fortune, "and it's not a lot of fun. You go back in the four years I've been here – maybe further back - and you've seen the USCs and UCLAs have their downs and ups."

"It might be surprising when it happens, but those things are the just the norm in this league. I mean, I'm even surprised that we're 6-3."

And what is Erickson's view on getting to 7-3? "It's simple. We've got to play better than we did last week."

It's a simple view that Washington has found exceedingly difficult to master in this season of surprise and paroxysm.

Maalox on standby.

TEAM STATS:  32.9 points (5th PAC-10), 394.9 yards
             (5th, 153.4 rush, 241.4 pass) 

RUSHING:     Steven Jackson 194-1138-10 TD (5.9), long 80 
             Dwight Wright 71-340-3 TD (4.8), long 47
PASSING:     Derek Anderson 137-286-6 (.479), 2084 yards, 18 TD
RECEIVING:   James Newson 45-726-8 TD (16.1), long 86
             Kenny Farley 21-425-2 TD (20.2), long 80
             Tim Euhus 15-220-1 TD (14.7), long 32

The West Coast offense is thriving once more for Erickson and offensive coordinator Tim Lappano. But instead of Smith and Simonton, now it's Anderson and Jackson. Throw in the necessary big-play receiver and you've got a three-headed monster to deal with. Lappano knows that the Huskies are playing short-handed in the defensive backfield, and so he has a wide open playbook to deploy against Washington. "They don't want to give up the big play," says Lappano. "They keep two safeties back there. That leaves seven in the box, and that favors us right now."

QB Derek Anderson
(Getty Images)
Sophomore QB Derek Anderson (6-6, 235) has been the talk of Beaver fans ever since he committed to Erickson out of Scappoose, OR. The first-year starter hasn't been all that accurate, but he also limits mistakes, as his first 109 throws without an interception can attest. Anderson is working on a 58-pass streak now, and he's spread 18 passing touchdowns among eight different receivers.

Sophomore tailback Steven Jackson (6-1, 227) is fast enough to dart the sideline and will run over you if he can't cut it past you. Jackson leads the conference in rushing yardage, including a career-best 239-yard day against California. He scored three times against Washington last year, and was the PAC-10 player-of-the-week for his 227-yard effort against Fresno State. Junior Dwight Wright (5-9, 197) has been an able reliever for Jackson, chipping in three touchdowns.

WR James Newson
(Getty Images)
Junior flanker James Newson (6-1, 201) broke the 100 career-reception barrier last week, and has a reception streak of 20 straight games going. Newson's 86-yard score against Arizona was the fifth-longest in OSU history, and he burned UNLV for 167 yards in his career-best day. Junior Kenny Farley (6-3, 225) will be a load to cover from the slot. Farley hauled in an 80-yard TD strike in the first start of his career against Eastern Kentucky. Senior receiver Shawn Kintner (6-3, 203) and junior tight end Tim Euhus (6-5, 247) both enjoyed big days against Washington last year, combining for seven catches and a touchdown.

The offensive line averages 315 across the front, and has stayed fairly intact since the season opener - with the exception of the season-long injury problems of Lee Davis. Senior Mike Kuykendall (6-6, 324) moved from guard to tackle in week five when junior Brian Kilkenny went down with a broken fibula, and junior David Lose (6-2, 306) moved into Kuykendall's spot. Kilkenny returned to the playing field last week, allowing the Beavers even more depth. Guard Kanan Sanchez (6-3, 340) will be making his 18th consecutive start – Sanchez is only a sophomore.

GAME OUTLOOK: The Beavers know Jimmy Newell and Roc Alexander are out, and will be doing all they can to mess up Evan Benjamin and Nate Robinson. Look for a lot of clear outs and drags against zone, and a lot of Steven Jackson. If the line can't keep Jackson contained and Mahdavi or Cooper can't stay with Euhus it could be a long afternoon.

TEAM STATS:     15.9 points (1st PAC-10), 291.1 yards
                (1st, 92.6 rush, 198.6 pass) 

TACKLES/TFL:    Nick Barnett 83/10.5
                Rich Siegler 67/10.0
                Lawrence Turner 46/1.0    

PASSES DEF/INT: Dennis Weathersby 10/1
                Terrell Roberts 7/1
                Lawrence Turner 6/4 
SACKS:          Bill Swancutt 9.0
                Dwan Edwards 3.5
                Noah Happe 3.0

DT Dwan Edwards
(Getty Images)
For the second straight week, Washington faces the top-rated defense in the PAC-10. The Beavers have only allowed 11 offensive touchdowns all season – and none in the first quarter. And though the Arizona ground game won't remind anyone of the John McKay days, the Oregon State stop unit still came within three feet of breaking the single-game school record for rushing yards last week, pinning a minus-23 on the Wildcats. That was after yielding California 16 yards on the ground the week prior, for a two-game allowance of minus-seven yards. Defensive coordinator Craig Bray's bunch is certainly doing something right.

First it was Terrell Suggs, and then next time it was David Ball. This week, it is sophomore defensive end Bill Swancutt (6-5, 251) turning loose on the Husky backfield. Swancutt has made 16 of his 37 total tackles behind the line of scrimmage – nine of them sacks. Junior Noah Happe (6-5, 238) makes his 21st straight start – Happe has three sacks plus an interception return for a score against Fresno State. Senior Eric Manning (6-1, 300) and junior Dwan Edwards (6-3, 294) man the middle – Edwards is second on the team in sacks with 3.5, while Manning almost single-handedly destroyed California with five tackles-for-loss.

SLB Nick Barnett
(Getty Images)
Senior linebacker Nick Barnett (6-2, 221) - a sure-fire first-team all-conference pick - leads the PAC-10 in tackles, and has found the time to break up four passes and force a pair of fumbles. Junior Richard Siegler (6-3, 230) will start his 33rd consecutive game (as will Manning). Seigler ranks just behind Swancutt in TFL with 10, and has a pair of interceptions, including a TD against Fresno. Senior Erik Tuma (6-1, 233) has five pass breakups from his weakside spot. Tuma was a classmate of Taylor Barton at Beaverton High.

Junior safety Mitch Meeuwsen has missed the past three games with a knee injury, and is still questionable, so senior Calvin Carlyle (6-0, 180) starts at the free – Carlyle has seven passes defensed. Strong safety Lawrence Turner (5-11, 193) has a team-leading four interceptions. Surprisingly, senior corner Dennis Weathersby's first career touchdown came on a blocked field goal against UCLA. Weathersby (6-1, 208) set a school record with five passes defensed against California, and he has 59 pass breakups in his career, an all-time OSU record. Weathersby should draw the Reggie Williams assignment.

GAME OUTLOOK: It's the league's hottest defense Gilby will be facing – the Beavers are a plus-10 on the turnover ledger and have the PAC-10's best defensive backfield, allowing only five aerial scores. With little on the line other than Northwest pride, it might be fun to see Washington delve into a little deception – the last two Husky opponents have fared well dipping deep into their playbooks, and the Huskies aren't looking like they're enjoying themselves. Time for a little fun, eh?

PLACEKICKING:  Kirk Yliniemi 6-7 FG (long 47), 34-34 XP
               Ryan Cesca 1-4 FG (long 51), 5-5 XP
PUNTING:       Carl Tobey 50-40.4 (long 63), .240 inside the 20
KICK RETURNS:  Terrell Roberts 9-22.8 (long 36), 0 TD
               Aric Williams 6-17.0 (long 22), 0 TD
PUNT RETURNS:  Terrell Roberts 16-10.1 (long 49), 0 TD

KOR Terrell Roberts
(Getty Images)
Ryan Cesca was the PAC-10's first-team all-conference kicker in 2000, he is second to Ken Simonton on the OSU career points scored list – but is no longer the front-line kicker, losing the job late last year to junior walk-on Kirk Yliniemi. Yliniemi currently has a five-straight FG streak going, and hit a career-best 47-yarder against Arizona State. Cesca's only successful try this year was a 51-yarder again Fresno State. Neither has missed a PAT this season. Junior punter Carl Tobey has been very consistent. Starting corner Terrell Roberts ranks third in the PAC-10 in kickoff returns, and also handles the punt-return duty for the Beavers, who rank fifth and sixth in the conference respectively in those disciplines. OSU does lead the conference in kick-coverage, however, allowing just 17.4 yards per return.

GAME OUTLOOK: Advantage OSU here. Washington has had punting and coverage problems all season – and the Beavers have not.


Speaking of fluttering stomachs, fifteen seniors will make their final march up the Husky tunnel on Saturday. Taylor Barton, Braxton Cleman, Matt DeBord, Kai Ellis, Wilbur Hooks, Houdini Jackson, Anthony Kelley, Jonathan Kovis, Patrick Reddick, and Kevin Ware will all be saluted, along with co-captains John Anderson, Paul Arnold, Ben Mahdavi, Jafar Williams and Eliott Zajac . . . Kevin Ware is quietly putting together one of the better tight end seasons in Husky history. His 34 receptions for 384 yards and five scores rank him in the top-five on the tight end seasonal charts in all three categories . . . It's the first time since 1914 that Washington will be playing their three Northwest rivals back-to-back-to-back . . . Needing only 398 passing yards in three games, Cody Pickett seems certain to obliterate the PAC-10 season yardage record held by Ryan Leaf . . . Oregon State is looking to snap a six-game conference road losing streak. So far, the Beavers are 6-0 at home, and 0-3 on the road . . . More bombs for the kamikaze. When was the last time that a three-loss Oregon State team came into Husky Stadium a favorite? Anyone? . . . The last two PAC-10 Defensive Players-of-the Week earned their stripes against Washington – Terrell Suggs and Dave Ball. And on October 5, it was Kyle Boller grabbing league offensive honors against the Huskies . . . For the first time all year, Washington has the edge in true-freshmen-played. Nate Robinson is the lone Husky to have forsaken the redshirt, while OSU has yet to play a single true frosh . . . Rick Neuheisel is 6-2 in his Husky career against the three Northwest schools . . . Top Stories