No. 2 Oregon continues decade of dominance over UW
''When I think back to the days when some of you weren't born, it really feels good,'' said Aliotti, Oregon's defensive coordinator. ''There was a time when Washington absolutely dominated us. But mostly, humbly, I'll say I'm very pleased to be where we are.''
The second-ranked Ducks (6-0, 3-0 Pac-12) continued a decade of surprising supremacy over Washington with their 45-24 win over the Huskies on Saturday thanks largely to one of the more complete performances of quarterback Marcus Mariota's career. Mariota's passing was on point, throwing for 366 yards and took off running when it was needed adding another 88 yards rushing.
The 454 combined total yards by Mariota were the second most of his career, behind only the 483 total combined yards he had against Tennessee earlier this season. And if his season stats weren't already impressive enough, Mariota now has 25 combined touchdowns running and passing and zero turnovers this season.
''I don't know when he is planning on going to the NFL, but when he does I think he'll be a top five draft pick,'' Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said of Mariota. ''He's a hell of a player.''
While Kenny Wheaton's interception return for touchdown against the Huskies that clinched a 31-20 win in 1994 and remains one of the most important moments in Oregon history, the current run of success over the Huskies is meaningful in the perspective of Washington's past dominance in the series. Between 1974 and 1993, when the Huskies were regularly winning conference titles and going to Rose Bowl's, Washington won 17 of 20 meetings between the schools.
The 10 straight over one opponent is the longest continuous win streak for Oregon over any Pac-12 foe. The Ducks were unbeaten in 13 straight against rival Oregon State between 1975 and 1987, but a 0-0 tie in 1983 interrupted the winning streak.
Not satisfied, those glad in green and yellow inside Husky Stadium on Saturday started chanting ''Ten more years,'' as the final seconds ticked away.
The trip to Seattle was Oregon's first test of the season, the first time they were pressed into the second half and first time Mariota was asked to take snaps in the fourth quarter. To their credit, the Huskies twice threw punches on the legs of running back Bishop Sankey that pulled Washington within seven points. The first came on the opening drive of the second half when Sankey raced for a 60-yard TD on fourth-and-1. The second time in the final moments of the third quarter was a 25-yard TD run that cut the Ducks lead to 31-24.
The problem from Washington was every overture was met with a rebuttal by Mariota. The first came after Sankey's long run when Mariota perfectly lofted a deep ball that Josh Huff ran under for a 65-yard touchdown to put the Ducks up two scores.
But it was the second of the responses that highlighted just why the NFL scouts that flooded the Husky Stadium press box - including Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider - are so intrigued by Mariota. He showed off his speed, racing for 35 yards on the final play of the third quarter to start the Ducks drive. One the first play of the fourth quarter, Mariota found Bralon Addison for 30 yards to the Washington 6. Following an incompletion, Mariota kept on a designed quarterback draw to the left that only went for one yard. But the Ducks went with the same play again on third-and-goal, this time to the right, and Mariota maneuvered his way in for a touchdown.
What became the backbreaking score for the Ducks took only 1 minute, 21 seconds. It was Oregon's 20th scoring drive of the season that took less than 90 seconds.
''We responded really well. The resolve of our team is special. The people that we have on this team are special,'' Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. ''If we are up by some number or down by some number it doesn't matter.''