Washington-Oregon Preview

The Associated Press

Washington has played Oregon tough through one half each of the past two seasons before giving way to the high-powered Ducks after the break.

Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian feels his team is better equipped to hang with Oregon for a full game this time around.

In the rankings after defeating a top-10 opponent, No. 23 Washington looks to pull off a second straight upset as it visits the second-ranked Ducks on Saturday night.

Washington (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12) moved into the Top 25 for the first time since last October after last Thursday's 17-13 home win over then-No. 8 Stanford. It was the Huskies' first victory over a top-10 team since 2009 and first win over the Cardinal since 2007.

"That's a win for our program,'' Sarkisian said.

A victory over Oregon (5-0, 2-0) would be even bigger.

The Ducks have won of 27 of 28 at Autzen Stadium and have outscored the Huskies by an average of 25.3 points in winning the last eight meetings. Oregon ranks fourth in the FBS in scoring at 52.4 points per game and is seventh in total offense with 550.6 yards, but this prolific unit hasn't intimidated Washington recently.

In 2010, the score was tied at 3 with just over five minutes remaining in the first half before the Ducks pulled away for a 53-16 victory.

Last season in Washington, Oregon led 17-10 at halftime and went on to win 34-17.

Sarkisian believes this season's team has better depth and more speed on defense to counter the athleticism of Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas.

"This is a different team than we've had in the past,'' Sarkisian said. "I think teams in the past we had guys who had lived through a whole bunch of adversity in the past and all that. We've got the majority of this roster is here with the expectation that we are going to win a championship in their time here and that's what their focus is.''

Much like its last two games with Washington, Oregon also got off to a slow start against Washington State last Saturday. Playing their first game outside of Eugene, the Ducks led 23-19 at halftime before wearing down the Cougars in the second half of a 51-26 victory.

"With our team we know we're going to get everybody's best shot,'' Barner said. "We're a strong willed team. We know that when we do what we're supposed to be doing and execute no one can stop us.''

Barner rushed for 195 yards on 20 carries and had three touchdown runs - including an 80-yarder - to go with a 30-yard TD reception. The senior is sixth in the FBS in rushing yards with 605 and has 10 TDs.

Thomas, meanwhile, has eight scores and 302 rushing yards, and his average of 9.7 yards per carry is the best of any FBS player with at least 11 attempts.

Oregon's speed typically causes all sorts of problems for opponents, but Sarkisian thinks his team can have some success against the Ducks if his players can take care of their responsibilities. The Huskies had little trouble against the run last week, limiting the Cardinal to 70 rushing yards on 28 attempts.

"They run really good football plays," Sarkisian said of Oregon. "But the reality of it is those plays become even better when you are wrong on defense and you make mistakes."

Although Sarkisian has confidence in his defense, his offense will need to find a way to score points.

Aside from their 52-13 win over FCS foe Portland State on Sept. 15, the Huskies are averaging 13.7 points and 274.7 yards in their other three games. Keith Price has two touchdowns and two interceptions in those contests - the same number of TDs and picks he had in last November's loss to Oregon.

Despite its underwhelming offensive numbers, sophomore Bishop Sankey ran for 144 yards on 20 attempts against a Stanford defense that came in ranked first in the FBS against the run, allowing an average of 41.7 yards.