Nov. 3, 2006
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) -- There are so many ties between Washington and Oregon, that it's no wonder the game between the two teams is such a big rivalry.
Oregon's star running back, Jonathan Stewart, is from Lacey, Wash. Ducks coach Mike Bellotti and Washington counterpart Tyrone Willingham are old pals. And Washington backup quarterback Johnny DuRocher started his career at Oregon.
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So there's a lot of buzz for Saturday's game between the No. 24 Ducks (6-2, 3-2) and the Huskies (4-5, 2-4).
"Big rivalry game this week, obviously, though sometimes more to the fans than the players," Oregon receiver Jordan Kent said. "We try to treat it like any other game but you definitely want to win these Northwest games."
Washington would also like to win, especially against a ranked opponent. After going 4-1 to start the season, the Huskies have lost four straight. They are coming off a 26-23 overtime loss at home to Arizona State.
Washington lost starter Isaiah Stanback in mid-October and have had to adjust to backup Carl Bonnell. Bonnell has also been injured, hurting his non-throwing shoulder against Cal then suffering a concussion against the Sun Devils.
After Bonnell left, DuRocher took over against the Sun Devils. Without any practice, DuRocher performed well in the fourth quarter, leading the Huskies to a tying touchdown. He was 4-of-8 passing for 40 yards.
Bonnell is expected to start Saturday, but if he has trouble he'll be replaced by DuRocher, who got more snaps in practice this week.
DuRocher was a part of Oregon's 2003 recruiting class, which included current quarterback Dennis Dixon and backup Brady Leaf. DuRocher transferred to Washington in 2004.
"I've just got to be ready to go, similar to last week, and if it happens, I'll be looking forward to it," DuRocher said.
On the other side, Willingham tried to recruit Stewart to Notre Dame and later attempted to recruit him to Washington. But Stewart had his mind made up and never made a visit to Seattle.
Stewart said the rivalry is no big deal to him, even though he hails from Lacey, just east of the Washington state capital of Olympia.
"Just because it's my hometown, I don't put that much emphasis on it. If we don't win this game it will be just as bad as if we lost to some other team," he said.
Stewart hurt his ribs in the Ducks 55-12 victory over Portland State last Saturday. He said he would be ready for the Huskies, although the Ducks are hurting elsewhere. Coach Mike Bellotti may play true freshman running back Andre Crenshaw, who will give up a potential redshirt year.
Already bowl eligible, the Ducks are fighting for position in the Pac-10. Cal is undefeated in the league and USC has one loss. Washington State is in third.
The Ducks are back with Oregon State in fourth.
"We just need to start building some consistency. Our last few games have been win one, lose one, win one, lose one," Kent said. "We need to put together a good streak of wins here as we try and close out the season and try to position ourselves for the postseason."