A conversation on Washington, the College Football Playoff and academic prowess
Aidan Schneider remembers his career against Washington, rousing Willie Taggart halftime speeches and wonders where The Rock has been
Oregon and Washington meet for the 113th time on Saturday. Oregon has won the last two and the No. 4 Ducks will need a third consecutive victory to keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive.
The I-5 Corridor’s Tyson Alger and Aidan Schneider will be at the game. Before heading north, they had a conversation about the Playoff, the Huskies and a bit of a one-sided rivalry as of late.
Tyson: So, I wasn’t expecting this. Maybe you were.
Aidan: I think I’m as surprised as you are that Oregon’s in the No. 4 spot. I was Googling trying to make sure it was true because realistically I expected the Ducks to maybe be at No. 5 or probably No. 6.
Tyson: I really thought in the weeks leading up to this they were setting the stage for why Ohio State was going to be ahead of Oregon. The team that actually has a legitimate gripe is Cincinnati, which has done just about everything it could have to this point to be in that position.
Oregon is 7-1 and in the driver's seat of the Pac-12. But if you look at the rest of the Pac-12 schedule there aren’t a lot of quality wins left. So winning like they did last week, comfortably, against Colorado is important to this team now.
Aidan: It’s huge that they are in the fourth spot now, just because it makes it such a strong case going forward that they should control their own destiny. Even if the opponents they’re going to be playing aren’t going to be quality wins, they’ve done enough in the committee’s eyes to be in the fourth spot already. Colorado was a good example of a good win against a bad team. It wasn’t perfect, but Oregon was in control from start to finish. And instead of a slow start where they’re struggling to get into the end zone, they’re up 14-zip and they never really looked back.
I just have a hard time imagining them not getting in if they run the table. The Ohio State head to head is huge, because as much as you can look at some games where Ohio State blew some teams out and Oregon struggled and played down to its competition, Oregon did win, on the road in a real tough matchup and I think that really does carry a lot of weight.
Tyson: Moving to this week, Oregon travels up to Seattle on Saturday to face Washington. The main question I have for you, the Oregon graduate: What’s the hardest class you had your senior year?
Aidan: Basketball. Jimmy Lake was right.
Tyson: I took acting for non-majors, but Montana certainly wasn’t in the same recruiting circles as Washington. I know this is something you wanted to get into.
Aidan: I just have to think that’s not a comment he thought a lot about and it just kind of slipped out. Because it seems like such a childish response. We’re talking about a rivalry where Oregon’s really dominated Washington for a long period of time, and to come back with an answer like, “Oh yeah, we’re going for the more academically inclined kids,” as if that’s somehow going to improve their team more than the rate Oregon’s improving at. I can’t think the administration was thrilled to hear that one.
Tyson: Especially when you’re in the same conference as, you know, Stanford.
Even during Oregon’s lean years, Washington hasn’t had a better class than them, per 24/7, since 2013. Christian Caple over at The Athletic pointed out that there are 34 players on Oregon’s roster from the 2018-2021 classes that Washington had offered. They’re definitely running in the same circles.
I don’t hate that Lake made the comments. It’s a coach trying to stoke a rivalry, and I think especially after not being able to play the game last year and some of their struggles this year, he was just trying to get people going. But man, make a better argument. It all just set up perfectly for Cristobal to do the “We’re just focused on football,” take. It just played out perfect for Oregon.
Aidan: It’s going to be a good game. It’s tough to think that Washington’s going to have much of a chance, but there are plenty of times when a team is having a rough season and the one thing that gets you pumped up is a rivalry game — especially with Oregon being in a Playoff position.
Tyson: I just hope if it’s a close game, it’s like 35-28 or something like that. Every Washington game I’ve turned on this year has been like 13-12. For as much as we’ve sat here and whined about the inefficiencies of Oregon’s offense and how the team might not be as fun to watch this year as they had been in past, Washington’s just a really rough watch. They have a really good defense and some playmakers, but, I mean, it’s supposed to be raining on Saturday too.
Aidan: They’re just a good reminder that things could be worse. Oregon fans have been frustrated at points this year, but I’d rather be frustrated at the top of the North than suffering through what Washington has done this year so far.
Tyson: Like in 2017 when you guys lost 38-3 and you scored the only three points for Oregon in that game?
Aidan: First drive, baby. Then nothing after that.
Tyson: Braxton Burmeister has actually gone on to have a pretty good career at Virginia Tech, but those were some rough times in 2017 when he was thrown out there as a freshman. How rough was that period on the sidelines? I mean, I’m sure you all felt for the kid, but you couldn’t move the football.
Aidan: It was brutal. It was the exact opposite feeling I had my freshman year when we had Marcus Mariota, and where we’d win the coin toss and start taking bets on the sidelines of how many plays it was going to be until we scored. And then with Braxton, nothing against him because he was thrown into a terrible situation, but it was just like, “How long until this game is out of reach?” It was probably going to be before halftime.
Tyson: I remember that Washington game being especially brutal. It was cold. It was raining. It was just a whole bunch of passes out to the flats hoping something broke.
Aidan: And having Willie Taggart in charge of the team as the steadying voice was not what the doctor ordered at all. There was some kind of panic because we knew we were struggling, but there was no steadying voice to get everyone through.
Tyson: Let’s say you’re down at the half. What’s Willie’s halftime speech?
Aidan: At that point in my career, I honestly didn’t even listen. I’d just be off doing my own thing eating a granola bar with the specialists.
Tyson: Have you been to Husky Stadium as a spectator?
Aidan: Yeah, I went to the last one before COVID.
Tyson: That was a really good game, too. That came down to the final drive with Mykael Wright getting the deflection, then Troy Dye’s infamous “Dawgs Down” on ESPN. That was a really fun postgame. I wrote a good story off that one.
Aidan: I remember that one being squarely in the middle of the Herbert criticism, too, where people were saying that he was missing guys downfield, that he can’t make some of the NFL throws. We all know how that turned out.
Tyson: Fun story: After that game, Big Boi the rapper played a show in Seattle completely decked out in Oregon gear. I think he’s my favorite random Oregon fan right now. Every generation has a few of them, and I think Big Boi’s attachment to this team is the funniest of them all.
Aidan: They got to get Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson out to Eugene sometime, too. I know he’s busy. But he’s a connection.
Tyson: I’m kind of surprised Cristobal hasn’t been able to pull that one out for a recruit at some point. Maybe he’s keeping that one up his sleeve.
Ok. I think we’re running out of steam. Any parting thoughts?
Aidan: Dawgs down.
This was supposed to be this week’s episode of The I-5 Corridor podcast. Parts of it instead became this story after some unexpected audio issues. If you would like for all future episodes to have some sort of written component, let me know in the comments. It’s something I’m considering.
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