Sports

No. 2 Oregon faces its 1st major challenge, against resurgent No. 16 Washington

FILE - In this Sept. 14, 2013, file photo, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota runs with the ball during an NCAA college football game against Tennessee in Eugene, Ore. Mariota and the Ducks face Washington. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes, File)

FILE - In this Sept. 14, 2013, file photo, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota runs with the ball during an NCAA college football game against Tennessee in Eugene, Ore. Mariota and the Ducks face Washington. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes, File)  (The Associated Press)

Steve Sarkisian finally has Washington where he believed they could get when he inherited an 0-12 program: on the cusp of returning to contention in the Pac-12 Conference.

All they need is a validating victory, and none would be more meaningful for the 16th-ranked Huskies than to knock off No. 2 Oregon on Saturday.

Washington nearly took a step into contention last week before falling 31-28 at No. 5 Stanford. It was a gutty effort but still left the Huskies (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12) searching for a win that would reinsert their name into the Rose Bowl conversation and make the Pac-12 North race about more than just Oregon and Stanford.

Oregon (5-0, 2-0) has dominated the series, winning nine straight over the Huskies with each decided by at least 17 points. And the Ducks are yet to be tested, having scored at least 55 points in all five games this season.