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It is amazing just how much a win can do for the mood of a team. The Don James Center was very lively place on Monday as many players joined in on the festivities on their day off from classes. This week, Washington prepares to swing into Eugene, Oregon to face the Oregon Ducks for the first time in two years. Nobody needs to remind the Dawgs what a victory over Oregon would mean to the program.

Last week, the Dawgs dealt with trash talk from Oregon State as "bulletin board material," and this week, they are expecting to hear some of the same. Oregon safety Keith Lewis added fuel to the fire last week after appearing on KJR and labeling Cody Pickett as "overrated."

"I really don't listen to what they talk about and I really didn't hear too much. I'm just going out looking to play some football," said senior receiver Paul Arnold.

Arnold believes that proximity plays a big role into why the Washington-Oregon rivalry is so huge. "They're just so close to us and every year it's usually a good game. It's hardly ever one-sided and it's not a one-sided rivalry or anything."

Originally, Washington was supposed to have a bye against Oregon this season. It would have been the second year in a row that Washington had a bye against the Ducks, which is normal in Pac-10 scheduling. But the thought of waiting two years for a match up would have been too much for those involved in the programs. "I think it (Oregon) got put back on for a reason," Arnold said about the scheduling. "We really weren't supposed to play them this year but it got picked back up and I think that just shows how strong the rivalry is.

"The northwest schools are doing well and you definitely want to win the ‘Northwest Championship.'"

As coach Neuheisel emphasized in his press conference, while the Huskies are in no position to win the Pac-10 championship this season, Arnold agrees that winning the "Northwest Championship" would bring some peace of mind to this season.

As for the "world-renowned" Oregon fans that they expect to see Saturday, Arnold sees Oregon fans as more "passionate," rather than "classless" as some people would like to label them. "I've heard some things about their fans and a lot of things weren't very good but it just shows how much passion they have for their team. We have a ‘unique' relationship with the Ducks. I'll put it like that," he said.

Senior kicker John Anderson had a memorable day against Oregon State. Not only was it a victory in his last Husky home game, but also he hit one of the most beautiful field goals, and kicked one of the more ugly punts fans have seen. "It was really important to us seniors. You never want to leave a place this special on a losing note and I'm really thankful the whole team came together and rallied around the 15 of us (the seniors) and came out and played our best game of the year," John said.

Anderson is also looking forward to playing the Ducks and would like to pull out a victory in Autzen for the final time. "Oregon is a really good team. They have some good players and we haven't played them in two years. It's really exciting to get the opportunity to go down there and play them," he said.

Even though it is nearly impossible say that the hype and the trash talking from the south does not affect them at all, Anderson still believes that talk is cheap and that it is what happens for the 60 minutes on any given Saturday that matters.

"Some people are talkers and some people aren't," said Anderson. "I don't think we have very many talkers on this football team and the coaches aren't talkers so we're just going to go out there and we're just going to do our best to have a good week in practice and be ready to play on Saturday."

As for Anderson's punting career, he had this to say about his chances on punting against the Ducks. "No. Hopefully there is NO chance."

While the Huskies played virtually mistake-free against the Beavers, the running game had another dismal day. However there were some flashes of promise and more importantly, it gave much needed confidence going into this week.

"I just think it's important for us to start today and go out there and clean up what we need to clean up, have a good week of practice, and head down and play a very exciting game," said fullback Zach Tuiasosopo. "I think if we just take care of each other then everything will be alright."

Tuiasosopo has nothing but respect for the team in green. After spending his freshmen year red-shirting and watching the game from home, he is anxious to take part in the ongoing saga of this intense rivalry. "They are a very, very good team. They are very talented and we're just looking forward to playing well," said Tui.

"But an Oregon-Washington game is always an intense game. It's exciting and for me, it's the first chance I'm getting to play against Oregon and I'm very excited to get this week started."

The veterans of the team know what it is like for a game week against such a rival, but the young guys will be going through it for the first time. One such player is safety James Sims.

"I'm looking forward to it because the guys who know all says playing in Oregon is one of the loudest stadiums you will ever play in and a really hard place to win on the road so I'm really looking forward to living the experiences," said Sims.

The young safety from Las Vegas has done an admirable job for stepping up and adding depth to a secondary that has been hit hard with injuries.

"Every game is a new experience as you learn something a little bit new," said Sims of the learning process. "I was really nervous the first time I started and as the games go on, you never lose that nervousness but you get used to it out there and it gets easier to make decisions and decide what you have to do in certain situations."

One of the lasting images of the Oregon State game, if not the entire season thus far was the image of the Husky defense swarming CB Derrick Johnson after his touchdown and forming a massive "dawg pile."

"We've all been working hard in the secondary and to see us all come together like that, it was really emotional moment and we all kind of lost our minds for a moment," said a laughing Sims.

So why do the Ducks and Huskies "hate" each other? It seems to be a question with different answers depending on who you ask.

However, there may be one person on the team that has a little insight on the rivalry from the Oregonian perspective and that would be backup quarterback Taylor Barton. The senior from Beaverton, Oregon is the only active player on the Washington roster that is a native to our neighbors from the south and gave us his thoughts on just why the Ducks and the Huskies do not play nice with each other.

"I think it's a situation where sometimes you don't like your buddy because he has a better looking girlfriend than you," Barton said. "I compare that to these programs. I think Oregon really wants to be the program that Washington is, and Oregon is on the rise. There is no question about it.

"But right now, they don't have the tradition and history that Washington has. They might have had a better season last year, and this year, we're both kind of in the same boat where both teams would like to be in a better situation than they are. But Washington traditionally has been the more dominant program. It's a competition where Oregon feels that if they can beat us a second time in a row, then they kind of have taken over in the Northwest."

Barton still believes that even though Washington is having a down season, Washington is still the standard for the Northwest. "For us right now it's just defending your title and until somebody takes it away from you, it's yours."

In case anyone was wondering, Barton was either a Ducks or a Beaver fan growing up, but if there was one that he knew more about, it was Oregon State. Barton decided against going to the Oregon schools because Joey Harrington signed with Oregon and Jonathan Smith signed with Oregon State the year before Barton graduated High School.

Even though Barton played behind Cody Pickett at Washington for the majority of his career, he has no regrets about coming to Montlake. "I haven't looked back one day. This is the right place to be," he said.

The other guys on the team give Barton a hard time for being the only Oregon native but he knows its all in good fun. "They're going to let me know about it," Barton said with a smile. "And I'm really expecting to hear from the Oregon fans when I'm warming up and on the sidelines Saturday as I did at Oregon State last year. It's going to be fun. No matter what they say, it's not going to matter to me because one, I'm not playing, and two, if I do play I'm less worried about the people in the crowd than I am about the eleven guys on the other side of the ball."

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