While Eugene may be a familiar town for the Huskies, they are in fact heading into unchartered territory. Saturday they march into Autzen Stadium not only as the fifth ranked team in the nation, but as favorites against the rival Oregon Ducks.
For so often and so long, the roles were reversed, the Ducks highly ranked, talking national championship, and the Huskies simply aiming for a winning season. Now Washington goes south with a high powered offense of their own, blowing out opponents and with the College Football Playoffs just within reach.
The Huskies come to town riding an eight-game winning streak, tied for third longest in the country along with Houston. While Oregon is searching for their first Pac-12 conference win.
Any team coached by Chris Petersen is going to be well coached, and no Washington team would ever dare take Oregon lightly, even if they are 2-3. Therefore fans shouldn't worry about these Huskies falling into the trap of looking past Oregon. That is mostly because there isn't anyone to look at after Oregon. The UW schedule is light, and keeping the squad from getting cocky and slipping up could be the biggest challenge for this coaching staff.
Watching them, every facet of the game is running on full cylinders. Stanford shows that they are well coached, defense is strong and of course the offense is efficient as ever.
If there is any obstacle that stands in Washington's way, it would be the strength of the four teams in front of them for a possible playoff spot. Michigan, Clemson, Ohio State and Alabama. All four come from stronger conferences, and are simply better on paper. Washington through no fault of their own play in a Pac-12 that is experiencing a down year, with only one other team in the top-25 rankings.
The boys in purple and gold have not won a fame in Eugene since 2002, and an Oregon assistant said earlier this week that the streak would not end this year. Fans have to hope that isn't true, because a loss for the Huskies would not only mean that their losing streak lasts at least another year, but that any hopes they had of making the playoff are out the window.
Therefore this game is bigger than simply getting on over a bitter rival and earning some bragging rights for at least a year. Their season hangs in the balance against probably their last real threat.