No love lost for visiting Washington

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

EUGENE, Ore. -- Despite USC's dominant performance today at Virginia -- egad, the Trojans looked good! -- the rest of the Pac-10 isn't going to call off the season.

And that's good, because there is no better place to watch a ball game than Autzen Stadium, where Washington faces a huge challenge tonight.

Nestled on the banks of the Willamette River, Autzen is a scenic stadium inside and out, but that's not what has made this venue infamous.

This place is really freaking loud.

I always tell my SEC friends that it's a smaller version -- capacity 54,000, though the average attendance in 2007 was 58,845 -- of "The Swamp" in Gainesville.

And I also tell my SEC friends that Oregon fans are known to sometimes duplicate the tone and tenor of Florida fans, not popularly known for their aristocratic bearing and hospitality (Hey, I mean that in the nicest possible way).

This place is hard on every visiting team, but it reserves a deep and frenzied hatred for the Huskies.

First sign from the the Ducks tailgate I saw: A "Husky Hater Tailgater" road sign. One side of the sign points to Seattle, the other points the opposite way, toward Pasadena and the Rose Bowl.

The rivalry would be bitter just because of the proximity of the schools. It also long was a rich big brother (Washington) vs. poor little brother (Oregon) mutual disaffection until the Ducks program, with an assist from billionaire booster and Nike founder Phil Knight, emerged as a national power with facilities as good as any program in the nation.

The festering bitterness of the rivalry, however, is traced back to 1948 when Oregon and California tied for first place in the conference and, by rule, the Rose Bowl participant was to be decided by member vote. The Huskies decided to stick it to Oregon, voting against the Ducks and actively recruiting then-member Montana to do the same. Cal went to the Rose Bowl and the Ducks stewed.

Washington dominated for years, but the shift in the balance of power began with the famous Kenny Wheaton 97-yard interception return for a TD in 1994 . Known as "The Pick" for those in green and lightning yellow -- and endlessly replayed at Autzen Stadium, particularly when the Huskies are in town -- the play ended what appeared to another Huskies comeback victory and keyed the Ducks Rose Bowl run.

There is a of myriad stories in the rivalry. Huskies officials a few years ago claimed Oregon fans threw cups of urine and dog feces at the UW players. Message boards are brimming with claims of indignities suffered by fans at the opposing stadium.

There's a lot of good ole hate here.

In other words, it's one of those games that make college football great.

As for tonight, my guess is folks are getting fairly lubricated during the lengthy tailgate that precedes night games. There's nice breeze and there figures to be a bit of a chill in the air by nightfall.

This place will be absolutely bonkers in about an hour.

Oregon, ranked 21st and favored by 13 1/2 points, is expected to roll over the Huskies, even with the loss of QB Nate Costa to a season-ending knee injury and the suspension of tackle Fenuki Tupou.

But Huskies QB Jake Locker figures to at least make things interesting.

And, you know, you can throw out the records -- dual 0-0 marks -- in rivalry games.