Oregon and Washington don’t battle in the last week of the regular season, dubbed ‘rivalry week.’ There is no trophy to be passed along. But the teams have played 110 times over the years, with Washington leading in the rivalry 65-45-5. The fan bases don’t like each other, and the teams know the stakes.
Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal was not afraid to acknowledge the significance of the game in his Monday press conference. There is no running from it.
“I think it’s a necessary aspect to always address with your players, which we have,” Cristobal said.
He added: “We prepare. We don’t ever try to mask or downplay factors that go into a rivalry game.”
Washington head coach Chris Petersen used a different tactic. Petersen was Oregon’s wide receivers coach for five years in the 1990s before joining Boise State as the offensive coordinator.
“I get the history,” he told reporters. “I get it as well as anybody, from my background. But I also think that every game is a huge game to us. Everyone’s got us circled and all those type of things. That’s why we just concentrate on ourselves.”
Unlike some rivalry weeks, this year’s has avoided pointless trash talk before the game. Bulletin board material can only go so far, anyways. According to Petersen, there might not be any fiery pregame speeches either.
“I think that wears off very, very fast,” he said. “You need to go play.”
The two coaches also answered questions on the states of their teams. The Ducks had a bye week last week, while the Huskies went on the road to UCLA. Washington led 24-7 at halftime, but the Bruins offense clicked in the second half, forcing Washington’s defense to stay on the field for long drives.
“I don’t think they’re worn out or anything like that,” Petersen told reporters. “I just think we were on the field for a long time on the second half on defense. The defense expended a tremendous amount of energy running sideline to sideline.”
The Ducks had a different weekend.
“I feel like we got a lot of things accomplished in terms of fundamentals, technique, schematically, program assessment, recruiting,” Cristobal said. “I think it was very productive in that sense, and at the same time we got a jump on our opponent this week.”
So does all that rest and preparation really help Oregon?
“Yes, tremendously,” Petersen said.
Something the coaches can agree on.
Follow Jack Butler on Twitter @Butler917