Ducks set for first road trip

EUGENE — Oregon will play its first game of the season away from Autzen Stadium, but is tonight's game in Seattle truly a road game for the second-ranked Ducks?

"I expect, just knowing the area and being from Washington, that there will be a decent amount of Duck fans there," said senior offensive lineman Nick Cody. "And no matter how many show up, I know they'll be loud.

"They're pretty committed and they've always been great for us. Everywhere we go, they seem to show up."

And there's the rub for Washington State, which chose to move this game from Martin Stadium in Pullman to CenturyLink Field, normally the home of the Seahawks but for this season also the home stadium for Washington while Husky Stadium undergoes a massive renovation.

Many of the WSU players have expressed their displeasure this week about having to travel to host an opponent.

"I don't see why we need to go somewhere else to play a home game," summed up WSU quarterback Connor Halliday.

Two reasons: an attempt to appease all of the WSU fans on the west side of the state who don't often travel over the mountains, and the prospect of a bigger payday for the Cougars, with the capacity of 67,000 at CenturyLink Field about double what the Cougars could draw in Pullman.

WSU has been playing a home game in Seattle since 2002, though it began as one of the nonleague games. When WSU found trouble drawing opponents that would promise good ticket sales, the idea almost went away.

Then came Bill Moos as the athletics director at WSU, and his desire to ignite more interest in the Puget Sound area, as well as bring in more revenue. Moos decided, and apparently is committed, to playing annually in Seattle with either Oregon or Oregon State as the opponent.

For last year's game against the Beavers, the announced attendance at CenturyLink was 49,219, and WSU officials say that more than 56,000 tickets have been sold for Saturday's game.

The question will be, how many of those were purchased by UO fans? That's good for WSU's revenue stream, but not so good for any homefield advantage that might be expected for WSU.

"It's midway between both universities, so I think fans of both schools will want to get inside that stadium," said UO defensive end Dion Jordan.

As a game, it isn't expected to be very competitive. The Ducks (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) are four-touchdown favorites on the betting lines, and WSU (2-2, 0-1) comes off a loss to Colorado in which the Cougars led 31-14 midway through the fourth quarter.

The only question seems to be how the Ducks will handle their first game outside of Autzen Stadium.

"I think we do a good job of replicating even in home games what it's like to be out on the road," Cody said. "If there's any difference, it's only a plane ride's difference.

"We hop on the bus, the same way we would here. We go in meetings, the same way we would here."

Even the wait for a 7:30 p.m. start won't be anything new because the Ducks have done that for two home games this season.

"It'll just be (waiting) in a different hotel this time," Cody said.

Coach Chip Kelly had a similar view of leaving Eugene for the first time, and the Ducks followed normal protocol by holding their final practice of the week Friday at Autzen Stadium before departing for the airport.

After that, "instead of going to meetings here, we'll go to meetings at a hotel in Seattle," Kelly said. "Our mindset isn't different because it's a road game.

"It's the biggest game we play this week and all of our attention is focused on that."

Share This Story