No. 22 Beavers host the Huskies Saturday night
CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Washington has a habit of beating Oregon State, so the No. 22 Beavers are paying close attention to the slumping Huskies.
The two teams meet Saturday night at Reser Stadium, where Washington is 14-4 overall.
The Huskies have won 14 of the last 15 games against the Beavers, and 24 of the last 26. Last year, the two teams met in Seattle and Washington won it 49-29, snapping a three-game losing streak.
The Huskies intercepted OSU quarterback Derek Anderson five times, returning two picks for touchdowns.
"We know that and we know they are going to put a lot of pressure on Derek. That's what they did last year and if I was their defensive coordinator, I would try and do the same thing," tailback Steven Jackson said.
"We know that we are going to have to pass the ball and protect -- I think we're up to the challenge. Our defense has to play sound like they have all season. If we play like we have the last four games, then we should come out on top."
Washington (3-3, 1-1 Pacific-10) is riding a two-game losing streak, while Oregon State (5-1, 2-0) has won four straight and is coming off a bye.
Jackson, of course, will be key for the Beavers.
The elusive tailback, who is starting to hear some Heisman hype, is ranked second in the nation 146.2 rushing yards a game. He has nine rushing touchdowns.
And Jackson is an added threat in that he ranks second on the team with 18 catches for 203 yards.
"Right now he is the premier back in our league, maybe the premier offensive player in our league," Washington coach Keith Gilbertson said. "This guy is capable of carrying the offense."
The Huskies face Jackson at a time when their having some trouble on defense. And offense, too, for that matter.
Two weeks ago, the Huskies led UCLA at halftime, but were outscored 39-0 in the second half to lose 46-16. They struggled again last Saturday in a stunning 28-17 loss to Nevada.
"We stunk out there," linebacker Greg Carothers said. "You can't say much else."
Cody Pickett was intercepted three times, including one that was returned for a Nevada touchdown. He was also sacked eight times, and was booed by the Seattle fans.
Last year, Pickett set a Pac-10 single-season record with 4,458 yards passing. So far in 2003, Pickett has thrown for 1,628 yards with seven TDs and seven interceptions.
Still, Pickett leads the league with a 59.7 percent completion percentage.
And he's got a potential big-play target in wide receiver Reggie Williams, who leads the Pac-10 with 41 catches for 597 yards and six touchdowns.
Huskies tailback Rich Alexis has rushed for four touchdowns in the last four games.
"They'll get their catches and their yards so you hope to contain them so they don't break any big plays," said Beavers defensive end Bill Swancutt.
Washington will be certainly be aware of Swancutt and the rest of the Beavers' defense -- which limited Cal to just 52 yards passing in their last game, a 35-21 victory two weeks ago. The Beavers lead the league in total defense, allowing just nine touchdowns by opponents.
"I don't think we have seen a defense as good as Oregon State's yet," Gilbertson said.
As far as the history, the Beavers did beat the then-No. 8 Huskies 49-24 at Reser back in 2001. And Oregon State is becoming known for its distinct home-field advantage with seven straight victories.
"I think the atmosphere here is great. It is hard for opponents to play here and that is a great thing," coach Mike Riley said.
Oregon State is 2-0 in conference play for the first time since 1968, when they won their first four Pac-8 games.
Jackson would like to see the streak continue against the Huskies.
"Washington is a tough team. Right now they're in a little slump, but they've got a win in the Pac-10 and they're going to come in here hungry," he said. "We know that if we want to advance and have a chance to play in the Rose Bowl, then we have to take each team very seriously -- and that's what we're going to do."
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index
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