We continue our week-by-week look at Washington's 2014 schedule with a preview of the Huskies' Week 8 opponent: Oregon.
WASHINGTON AT OREGON, Saturday, Oct. 18 (Kickoff time TBA)
STADIUM: Autzen Stadium, capacity 54,000, one of the most revered venues in college football and somewhere the Huskies haven't won since 2002.
OREGON LOCATION: Eugene, Ore. (population 157,986)
ENROLLMENT: 24,548 (20,808 undergraduates, 3,740 grad students)
MASCOT: The Ducks.
2013 RECORD: 11-2 (7-2 in Pac-12). The Ducks started 8-0 and spent the first nine weeks of the season looking very much like national championship contenders. Then they were felled once again by Stanford, their new premier Pac-12 nemesis. Oregon finished tied with the Cardinal for the Pac-12 North lead, though Stanford obviously held the tiebreaker and wound up winning the Pac-12 title and playing in the Rose Bowl. An embarrassing 42-16 loss at Arizona accounted for the Ducks' other blemish.
COACH: Mark Helfrich (11-2 in one season at Oregon; 11-2 in one season overall)
KEY RETURNERS: QB Marcus Mariota (R-Jr) (245-for-386 passing for 3,665 yards, 31 TDs and 4 INTs in 2013; 96 carries, 715 yards, 9 TDs); RB Byron Marshall (Jr.) (168 carries, 1,038, 14 TDs); RB Thomas Tyner (So.) (115 carries, 711 yards, 9 TDs); WR Bralon Addison (Jr.) (61 catches, 890 yards, 7 TDs; tore ACL during spring practices); DE Tony Washington (R-Sr.) (60 tackles, 12 TFL, 7.5 sacks); LB Derrick Malone (R-Sr.) (105 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 2 INTs); CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (Sr.) (85 tackles, 5 TFL, 3 INTs); OL Hroniss Grasu (R-Sr.) (All-American who started all 40 games at center the past three seasons); OL Hamani Stevens (R-Sr.) (Started all 13 games in 2013); OL Jake Fisher (Sr.) (22 starts past two seasons); OL Tyler Johnstone (R-Jr.) (26 starts last two seasons; tore ACL during Alamo Bowl in December)
KEY LOSSES: RB De'Anthony Thomas (96 carries, 594 yards, 8 TDs; 22 catches, 246 yards, TD; 24.4 yards per KOR with a TD); WR Josh Huff (62 catches, 1,140 yards, 12 TDs); DB Terrance Mitchell (59 tackles, 5 INTs); DE Taylor Hart (75 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks); DB Avery Patterson (80 tackles, 6 TFL, 3 INTs); LB Boseko Lokombo (63 tackles, 7 TFL, 3 sacks, INT); DL Wade Kiliikipi (34 tackles, 5 TFL, 2 sacks)
2013 STATISTICAL RANKS: 4th in Scoring Offense (45.5 points per game); 2nd in Total Offense (565.0 yards per game); 21st in Passing Offense (291.5 ypg); 9th in Rushing Offense (273.5 ypg); 13th in Scoring Defense (20.5 ppg); 37th in Total Defense (370.1 ypg); 21st in Passing Yards Allowed (204.5 ypg); 66th in Rushing Defense (165.5 ypg). Here is the full report.
BIGGEST 2014 PRIORITY: The Ducks return a ton of talent on offense, even if they did lose leading receiver Huff and a playmaker like Thomas. But remember: Oregon's offense was so deep and diverse in 2013 that Thomas, slowed some by injury, wound up the team's fourth-leading rusher, behind Marshall, Mariota and Tyner -- and each of those players returns this season. With Mariota back under center and the entire starting offensive line returning, Oregon's offense looks like it has the potential to again be pretty unstoppable. Of more concern -- if only marginally -- is likely the defense, which loses some big-name playmakers in addition to longtime coordinator Nick Aliotti. Another longtime assistant, Don Pellum, steps into the defensive coordinator role in 2014. He'll have to partially rebuild a secondary that will be without Mitchell, Patterson and departed safety Brian Jackson, though Ekpre-Olomu is back to give Oregon an All-American presence at corner. The Ducks also lose some talent up front, though nobody will be all that surprised if players like DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead anchor what could again be a pretty tough group. It's never easy replacing players as productive as Hart, Keliikipi and Lokombo, but the Ducks were deep last year and remain as talented as anyone in the conference. The priority is maintaining that edge despite the loss of a handful of defensive playmakers.
SCHEDULE NOTES: A pretty favorable schedule for Oregon this year, with three nonconference home games -- though one is against reigning Big Ten champion Michigan State. But the Ducks miss Arizona State and USC in Pac-12 play, and their toughest conference road game will probably be at UCLA. In addition to UW, the Ducks get Stanford at home, though they do play five Pac-12 road games and four at home.
UW-OREGON ROSTER TIES: Only one Oregon player claims a hometown in Washington -- linebacker Danny Mattingly, a Spokane native and younger brother of former WSU linebacker Andy Mattingly. UW's roster lists two Oregon natives -- OL James Atoe, from The Dalles, and OL Andrew Kirkland, a Portland native who played at Jesuit High. Oregon WR Keanon Lowe was committed to UW before changing his mind and signing with the Ducks. UW also heavily recruited Armstead.
UW-OREGON HISTORY: Washington leads the all-time series 58-43-5, but it's been all Oregon for the past decade. The Ducks have won the last 10 meetings by at least 17 points each.
OREGON'S BEST SEASON: The Ducks don't claim any national championships, but came quite close in 2010, finishing the regular season undefeated before losing to Auburn, 22-19, on a last-second field goal in the BCS National Championship Game.
HOW WAS SPRING BALL?: Andrew Greif at the Oregonian has some quality position-by-position recaps for you to peruse.
WORTH READING: The touching story of running backs coach Gary Campbell and his relationship with his son, who died in August.
NOTABLE NON-FOOTBALL GRADS: The best list I could find is from Wikipedia. Some highlights: Phil Knight, '59, Nike co-founder; Chuck Palahniuk, '86, Fight Club author; Neil Everett, '84, SportsCenter anchor; Steve Prefontaine, '74, renowned distance runner and Olympian
Christian Caple can be reached at email@example.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple