Fond memories fading for Huskies when it comes to the Ducks
Casey Paus is the trivia answer to question of which UW quarterback last beat the Ducks
Seattle Times staff reporter
StreakingWashington has lost eight consecutive games to Oregon, its current longest losing streak against any conference team.
Arizona State: ASU, 7 in a row.
Arizona: UW, 1 game.
California: Cal, 3 in a row.
Colorado: UW, 3 in a row.
Oregon State: OSU, 1 game.
USC: USC, 1 game.
Stanford: UW, 1 game.
UCLA: UW, 1 game.
Utah: UW, 7 in a row.
Washington State: UW, 3 in a row.
Casey Paus had only one real thought racing through his mind after that magical November night in 2003.
"Well, that was fun," he recalls telling media members after leading Washington to a 42-10 victory over Oregon at Husky Stadium.
What he never imagined is that nine years later, that would be the last time UW has beaten its hated rival.
"It's one thing people have joked around with me about is that I was technically the last quarterback to beat Oregon," Paus said.
The Huskies have lost eight in a row to the Ducks since that night, when Paus replaced injured Cody Pickett at halftime and led the Huskies to 35 consecutive points to overcome a 10-7 halftime deficit.
It's the longest losing streak UW currently has against any foe, and is the longest it has ever had against Oregon or against any Pac-12 team not named USC or Stanford.
"Hopefully that notoriety doesn't last too long," Paus said of his status as the last UW quarterback to beat Oregon. "But that definitely makes its way into conversation."
Maybe it does around Paus.
But not much is said about the streak these days at Montlake — or at least not in public.
Washington coach Steve Sarkisian has said this week he is downplaying what he calls "external motivators," such as the history of this rivalry.
And Huskies players held to that theme, quarterback Keith Price saying, "I'm not even sure what the (recent) record is (against Oregon). ... We know that this is a new Oregon team this year, so we're just trying to beat them this year."
Back during Paus' days, though, the Huskies made little secret of their desire to beat Oregon, a feeling that was mutual. The first thing UW coach Keith Gilbertson told the media following the 2003 game was "Oregon is a big rivalry, so it means a lot to beat them."
The 72,450 fans at Husky Stadium that night might have been a little nervous when UW took the field for the third quarter with Paus at quarterback. Pickett seemed fine to fans as he left the field at halftime, but had taken a hit to his head. And when he was examined at halftime and complained of memory loss, trainers determined he had to sit.
"Everybody in the locker room was kind of looking at me like, 'Uh oh, now what do we do?' " said Paus, at the time a sophomore who had seen nothing other than mop-up duty. "But the coaches started talking to me about the offense we were going to run and that we were going to keep it simple. They were all saying, 'We are going to win this game.' "
And somewhat inexplicably — and before a national television audience — Paus led UW to four touchdowns and a field goal on the first five drives of the second half against an Oregon team that had been on the cover of Sports Illustrated a few weeks earlier after beating Michigan.
Helped by a good running game, Paus completed 5 of 8 passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns as UW scored the most points it has in any second half since 1974. Things went so well that Paus recalls Reggie Williams ran the wrong route on one play, going with a slant instead of the fade that had been called in the huddle — and it still resulted in a 63-yard TD.
"The funny thing is I was less nervous in that game than any game I started," Paus said. "And I remember there was no doubt in anyone's mind on the sideline that we were going to win."
It was a full-throated rivalry at the time, feelings having been stoked by midweek comments by Oregon safety Keith Lewis that the Ducks planned to win the game and then dance on the W at midfield to get back at UW for a similar celebration following a 42-14 Huskies victory the previous year in Eugene.
Paus calls it "definitely the highest point of my career," one that got rockier from there. He became UW's starter in 2004, when a program that had been rattled by the controversial firing of Rick Neuheisel hit bottom and went 1-10. That included a 31-6 defeat against Oregon in Eugene that Paus started.
Washington has since beaten every team in the Pac-12 except Arizona State (which, due to some scheduling quirks, it has played just six times since 2002). Oregon, though, has been vexing for UW, becoming one of the top programs not just in the Pac-12 but nationally. As it has risen, it has beaten UW every year by 17 points or more.
Paus, married to former UW soccer player Nicole Martinez and working in the Seattle area in medical sales, is a UW season-ticket holder who will watch avidly Saturday, hoping his status as the answer to a trivia question is soon erased.
"Things didn't necessarily work out as well (at UW) after that, but that's definitely one of the fondest memories I have."
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org