Washington trying to treat game against Oregon the same as any other

Ikaikia Malloe knows how it sounds. It sounds backward, and maybe a bit deranged.

The Huskies enjoyed their most significant victory in 15 years last week in their thorough dismantling of Stanford before a rowdy, nostalgic crowd inside Husky Stadium, and Malloe enjoyed it as much as anyone.

And yet there was Washington’s first-year defensive line coach at 9 a.m. Saturday, less than 12 hours after the game ended, back in his office going over film and picking apart all the itty-bitty things his players did wrong the night before.

“We have this great win against Stanford,” Malloe said, chuckling at himself, “and I’m in the office the next morning thinking about all the things we did wrong. We’re just trying to stay in the moment.”

Win or lose, it’s the nature of coaching to move on to the next game quickly. That is, in part, because the sting of losing is strong — and forever long. Which brings us to the Washington-Oregon rivalry and Malloe’s first trip back to Eugene’s Autzen Stadium in 20 years on Saturday.

Then a senior starting safety, Malloe helped the Huskies to a 33-14 victory over Oregon in 1996. Details of that game, however, are fuzzy. His recollections of UW’s stunning defeat in ‘94 are vivid — in short, it hurt — and he’s shared those experiences with UW players this week.

“Of course it has (come up),” he said. “I told them what it meant to me … and gave them my half of what I think the rivalry’s all about.”

Beyond that, though, Malloe stressed that it’s important for the team to treat this week like any other week, even if it’s anything but. That’s part of the reason, surely, that UW coach Chris Petersen banned players from all media interviews this week.

“We all talked about saving Saturday to celebrate,” Malloe said.

Oregon has won 12 consecutive games over the Huskies, but this is the first time since Malloe’s senior season that UW is going to Eugene as the betting favorite.

For long-suffering Husky fans, nothing is more important than ending the streak. How bad has it been for Washington? Consider: Over the past 12 years, the Huskies have held a lead against Oregon in just three games — and for a total of 8 minutes, 11 seconds (out of 720 minutes played).

And now roles have reversed from the Ducks’ recent dominance: It’s the fifth-ranked Huskies (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) in the driver’s seat for the conference championship, and it’s the Ducks (2-3, 0-2) who have opened conference play with defeats against Colorado and Washington State.

Petersen said he won’t use the streak as a motivational tactic with his players, and he doesn’t want them getting caught up in all the excitement building around the possibilities for this program.

“We’re kind of burying our head in the sand,” he said. “I think they have done a good job of just paying attention to what’s important and practicing hard and all those type of things.”

For the Huskies, maintaining and channeling their emotions will be critical Saturday, especially after riding on such a high against Stanford.

“You want to understand and enjoy that moment, but then coming back to ground level and working our way back up again (during the week),” Malloe said. “The trend is to first be as mature as we can, move forward and understand that Oregon is a great opponent — it really is; I don’t think the scores are showing how good they are — and making sure we have the right respect going in.”


When/where: 4:30 p.m. Today at Autzen Stadium (FOX).

Coach: Mark Helfrich is 35-11 overall, including 22-7 in the Pac-12 and 2-1 in bowl games in his fourth season with the Ducks. He was Oregon’s offensive coordinator and quarterback coach for four years (2009-12) before replacing Chip Kelly who left for the NFL.

Record: 2-3, 0-2 in Pac-12.

Line: UW is a 9-point favorite.

Last season: Oregon limped into the game at 3-3 following an overtime loss against Washington State before doing what they always do against Washington — win. The Ducks controlled most of the action in their 26-20 victory at Husky Stadium before UW made things close at the end. Oregon had more yards (442 to 385), first downs (21-17) and fewer penalties (0-1). The Ducks finished 9-4, including a 47-41 triple overtime loss in the Alamo Bowl.

Last week: Oregon lost its third straight game, a 51-33 defeat at Washington State at Martin Stadium. The Cougars rolled up 651 total yards.

Star players:

RB Royce Freeman is second in the Pac-12 with 463 rushing yards, 115.8 rushing yards per game average and seven touchdowns. He suffered an apparent right leg injury in Week 3 during a 35-32 loss at Nebraska and sat out the next game. The 5-foot-11, 230-pound junior returned last Saturday and finished with 138 yards and three touchdowns. He averaged 7.3 yards on 19 carries. Two years ago, Freeman rolled over Washington for 169 yards and four TDs. Last season he had 138 yards against the Huskies. He’s considered an early-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft if he leaves school early.

QB Dakota Prukop is the third starter in the past two years. The Montana State graduate transfer beat out true freshman Justin Herbert before the season for the job. Prukop has started every game this season with mixed results. He had his best game in Week 2 during a 44-26 win over Virginia while throwing for 331 yards, 3 TDs and no interceptions. But Prukop had his worst outing last Saturday when he managed just 136 passing yards and threw an interception.

WR Darren Carrington II, who was suspended for the first six games in 2015, was Oregon’s leading returning pass catcher with 32 receptions and 609 yards last season. This year, the 6-2, 195-pound junior is off to a relatively slow start. He has 304 receiving yards on 21 catches. But he’s a big-play threat who averages 14.5 yards per grab. Carrington also has three TD catches, including a 55-yarder.

WR Charles Nelson is dangerous on offense (24 catches for 240 yards) and on special teams (Pac-12 leading 583 kickoff return yards). The 5-8, 170-pound junior returned a kickoff 100 yards for a TD last Saturday against Washington State.

LB Johnny Ragin III is eighth in the Pac-12 with 7.2 tackles per game. The 6-3, 225-pound senior has a team-leading 29 tackles in four games.

By the numbers:

11-7 — Oregon’s record the past two seasons since appearing in the 2014 national title game.

11 — Number of freshman listed on Oregon’s two-deep depth chart, which is the most in the Pac-12.

45 — Penalties for the Ducks, which resulted in 431 penalized yards — both conference highs.

490.4 — Average yards for Oregon’s opponents, which is the 11th most in the Pac-12. The Ducks also allow 36.2 points per game, which is also the 11th most in the conference.