UW counterpart Chris Petersen, a former UO assistant, is downplaying the rivalry this week
Mario Cristobal and Chris Petersen are taking different stances publicly this week on the Oregon-Washington rivalry.
Cristobal, whose Ducks are looking to snap a two-game losing streak in the series and remain in contention for the program’s first Pac-12 championship since 2014, doesn’t mind circling this game in red on the schedule.
No. 17 Oregon hosts No. 7 Washington on Saturday at Autzen Stadium (12:30 p.m., ABC).
“It’s as important as it gets,” Cristobal said. “The intensity of a rivalry like this is through the roof, it’s off the charts. You could talk about it, write about it, explain it, and it still doesn’t capture the true fire and intensity, the true passion that goes behind something like this.
“Our players understand it and our players have seen it and they know the history of this series.”
Petersen, an Oregon assistant from 1995-2000, is downplaying the rivalry as he prepares to face the Ducks’ third head coach in as many seasons.
Washington embarrassed his friend Mark Helfrich with a 70-21 win in 2016 and smothered Willie Taggart’s lone Oregon team, 38-3, in 2017.
“I get the history. I get it as well as anybody, from my background,” Petersen said during his Monday press conference. “But I also think it seems like every week is just a huge game to us, like everyone’s got us circled and all those type of things. So that’s why we just concentrate on ourselves. That’s just our M.O. It’s like, ‘OK, what’s this offense, what’s this defense, what’s this special teams look like? How do we solve this?’
“And it’s just about us bringing the right energy and preparing correctly.”
Chip Kelly and Helfrich used to recite the “faceless opponent” coach speak during the Ducks’ 12-year domination of the series.
Petersen is only allowing four players to speak to the media this week. Senior quarterback Jake Browning is not on that list.
The Ducks are free to use their First Amendment rights.
“I want to say we’re Husky hunting and we’re coming after them,” Oregon wide receiver Dillon Mitchell said. “We know they’re a good team, but we’ve got something to prove.”
Wide receiver Tabari Hines was the only player on Oregon’s two-deep who was limited during Tuesday’s practice.
Braxton Burmeister, who underwent minor knee surgery earlier this season, was back at practice, but true freshman Tyler Shough ran the second-team offense.
Defensive end Austin Faoliu and tight end Jacob Breeland, who missed the California game with injuries, are expected to be back in the starting lineup.
Running backs CJ Verdell and Darrian Felix are both back at full speed after limping into the bye week.
True freshman offensive lineman Justin Johnson is out with a left arm injury.
Browning became Washington’s all-time leading passer earlier this season. The four-year starter has 10,612 career passing yards (13th in Pac-12 history) and 87 touchdown passes (eighth in Pac-12 history). …
The Ducks have led all five of their games this season at halftime, outscoring opponents 145-47 in the first half, including 52-17 in the two Pac-12 games. …
The ABC broadcast crew for Saturday’s game includes Sean McDonough (play-by-play), Todd Blackledge (analyst) and Holly Rowe (reporter).
“Not with this staff because we had three intense practices last week,” running back Tony Brooks-James said when asked if the Ducks lost any of their rhythm without a game last week. “With this coaching staff they made sure it wasn’t like that.”