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A Healthy Hate - The Oregon/Washington Rivalry

Brian Taylor

Posted on November 3, 2017 22:00

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The Oregon Ducks and Washington Huskies may not get a lot of headlines, but it remains one of the most bitter rivalries in College Football.

I was recently at Peet's Coffee one day catching up on my work for THE LATEST when, as I sat down, I caught a rare sight in the Bay Area: a young lady wearing a Washington Huskies hat.

While Oregon Ducks stickers and shirts are somewhat common down here (I saw four today), the sight of the logo of a bitter rival is fortunately very rare. Seizing the moment, I switched chairs at my table, so that my laptop, which conveniently sports a sticker that says "Support a Husky Free Northwest" was facing in her direction. She noticed my sticker, glared at me, and I got some satisfaction out of bringing a piece of a bitter Pacific Northwest rivalry to my new home.

On Saturday Night, Oregon and Washington will line up against each other for the 110th time at Husky Stadium in Seattle in a rivalry that was described by former Husky WR Paul Arnold as "a healthy hate."

For years, Washington under Don James was the dominant team in the Pac-12 and the Pacific Northwest, they knew it, and they made sure to remind you of it.

Meanwhile Oregon was plugging along as a mediocre program with Donald Duck as their mascot. Washington would regularly toy with the Ducks and let them think they had a chance before crushing their hopes and dreams. That is until 1994, when Oregon took the lead in a hard fought game, only to have Washington march right down the field and set up first and goal inside the 10. But then Huard went back to throw the ball, set up, looked, threw to the corner of the end zone and it was INTERCEPTED, INTERCEPTED. THE DUCKS HAD THE BALL! At the 35, the 40, Kenny Wheaton was gonna score! This play propelled the Ducks to their first Rose Bowl berth since 1957 and is largely credited with being the play that began the Ducks' rise to the National Brand they are today.

While the Ducks climbed into the national spotlight, the Huskies, through a combination of NCAA investigations and bad coaching hires, tumbled from their perch as the dominant program in the PNW, bottoming out at 0-12 in 2008. Suddenly it was Oregon that was dominating the rivalry, winning 12 straight games against the Huskies between 2004-2015. Oregon had become the "It" school in the Northwest, while the Huskies were happy with playing in the Holiday Bowl.

It may not get the headlines and the hype that Michigan/Ohio State or Miami/Florida State get, in part because its rare for both teams to be ranked at the same time. But having seen the rivalry at both stadiums, there is just as much pure sports hatred and just as deep a desire to win that game as any rivalry in college football. That might be the one thing the girl from Peet's and I can agree on.

Brian Taylor

Posted on November 3, 2017 22:00

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Washington Huskies vs. Oregon Ducks TV: Fox Time: 7:30 p.m. ET Oh, how the narrative has flipped in this rivalry....

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