Ducks won't forget Washington's party in Eugene

Updated: October 31, 2003, 2:31 AM ET

SEATTLE -- Oregon coach Mike Bellotti says the whole thing "was in very poor taste." Even one year later, safety Keith Lewis sounded miffed and promised retribution.

No, the Ducks haven't forgotten that lengthy Washington victory party at midfield last season in Eugene.

How could they? The Huskies pranced and posed for photos some 30 minutes after their 42-14 victory.

"It was very insulting," Lewis said. "I'm sure we're going to see some film of it before we go. ... I guarantee you, it's a promise, we'll probably make a couple of fliers for the party we're going to throw on their 'W' after our win."

The Ducks (5-3, 2-2 Pac-10) visit Washington (4-4, 2-2) on Saturday night. The payback angle is the most glamorous way to dress up a matchup between two heated rivals who both have underachieved this season.

Some of the fun for Oregon fans is sure to be missing without former Huskies coach Rick Neuheisel, fired last summer for his role in a neighborhood gambling pool on the NCAA basketball tournament.

Last fall, Neuheisel defended the Autzen Stadium celebration. He explained that his team, slogging through an up-and-down season, deserved to party because the Huskies hadn't won at Oregon since 1996.

Bellotti said this week that he never saw Washington's players dancing on the "O" in Oregon on the Eugene field. He also insisted the partying never bothered him, though he seemed to slip in a shot protesting the display.

"The frustration to me is not that someone would choose to do it, although I don't condone it. I think it was in very poor taste," Bellotti said. "I am more frustrated that somebody had the opportunity to do that on our field."

Washington coach Keith Gilbertson, the offensive coordinator last season, also claims he didn't see the celebration. He explained it was "a long walk down" from his seat in the press box to the locker room.

"I really didn't know much about it until the next day," Gilbertson said. "I really don't have anything to add to it. I don't know that anything I can say is going to change it."

Gilbertson found himself in a tight spot at his weekly news conference. He implied that he wouldn't have allowed the celebration if he had been the head coach -- "You guys know how I am," he said.

Later, though, he lashed out when asked what he plans to tell his team about the incident.

"That's between me and my players," Gilbertson said. "For me to make some ridiculous comment about it would be throwing Rick under the bus, and I'm not going to do that."

There's a game somewhere in this shouting match. Both teams will try to use this contest as a springboard to a strong finish that should lead to a winning record and a bowl invitation.

Washington's prospects took a blow when Gilbertson announced that three offensive starters -- tailback Rich Alexis, receiver Charles Frederick and guard Tusi Sa'au -- are out with injuries.

"We want everyone to play at their best because we want to beat their best with no excuses," Lewis said.

The Huskies will start freshmen at those positions, and they'll also be without injured starting cornerback Roc Alexander and reserve Chris Massey for the second straight week.

Derrick Johnson, another cornerback, thinks the injuries will show some things about the Huskies.

"How strong we are, how good we are and how good we can be the rest of the season," he said. "We'll find out how we're going to end this season. We've got to go out there and get a win."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index