No. 22 Football Hosts Huskies In Final Home Game of 2002 Season
Nov. 12, 2002
BORDER WARS . . . One of the Northwest's most intense rivalries resumes following a one-year hiatus as the Ducks strive to improve their pecking order among the Pac-10's post-season hierarchy in front of what is anticipated to be the largest crowd to ever witness a football game in the state. An improving Oregon defense that has limited each of its last two foes under 300 passing yards could receive its stiffest challenge of the year by the league's passing offense leader. The Ducks point to getting a ground game that is vital to November success back on track in a series where the rushing leader has been an accurate barometer for victory in four of the last six meetings. With several individual school records already under their belts, a pair of standouts continue their quest for greater national acclaim. Oregon bids farewell to 15 seniors who are making their final Autzen Stadium appearance, with the Ducks hopeful of posting their ninth straight home-finale triumph.
NATIONAL RANKINGS . . . Oregon dropped to 23rd and 22nd, respectively, in the latest Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN national rankings after escalating to as high as sixth in the country earlier in the year by both.
HEAD COACH MIKE BELLOTTI . . . Ranking third on the Ducks' all-time winningest coaching list (67-26-0), Mike Bellotti now has led the program to more overall wins during his tenure than any other school in the Pacific-10 Conference. He stands as the winningest active coach in the Pac-10 based on conference winning percentage (64.5%), and 15th all time. Oregon's eighth-year head coach has accumulated a 40-22 record in Pac-10 encounters, which ties him for 17th in career league wins with Pappy Waldorf (California, 1947-56). Bellotti has played a vital role in assembling more than 20 percent (106 wins) of the university's all-time triumphs (509) in his 14-year Oregon association (six as offensive coordinator and eight as head coach). Only Hugo Bezdek (72.7 -- 1906, 1913-17) has accumulated a better winning percentage than Bellotti's 72.0% among the program's mentors who have coached the Ducks longer than two seasons. He trails only Rich Brooks (91-109, 1977-94) and Len Casanova (82-73, 1951-66) on the school's list of career victories. The 51-year-old former Cal State Chico mentor owns a90-51-2 (63.3%) 13-year career collegiate head coaching mark.
WASHINGTON'S RICK NEUHEISEL . . . The Huskies' fourth-year head coach has accumulated a 31-15 record (67.4%) in Seattle while guiding the program to one Pac-10 Conference title and a trio of post-season appearances. Included was a 34-24 win over Purdue in the 2001 Rose Bowl. The 41-year-old former UCLA quarterback migrated to the Pacific Northwest following four seasons as head coach at Colorado, where he compiled a 33-14 ledger, pushing his collegiate head coaching total to 64-29 (68.8%). Encountering a professional playing career with San Antonio of the USFL(1984-85) as well as San Diego and Tampa Bay in the NFL (1987), he broke into the coaching ranks as a volunteer assistant at his alma mater (1986) before joining the Bruins' full-time staff in 1988 and serving as an assistant at Colorado (1994) prior to being elevated to head coach one year later.
HOME FINALE . . . Not since 1993 have the Ducks dropped their final home game of the season. Oregon fell on the short end of a 15-12 verdict to Oregon State, which also happened to be the last time it suffered through an unsuccessful month of November.