Monday, October 31, 2011

It's THAT Time Of Year

It's THAT time of year again. No, not fall transitioning to winter. Not dark mornings and increasingly dark late afternoons. Not Halloween and costume parties.

No, it's that hallowed time of year in which pride, ambition and anticipation mix with hate, jealousy and a little bit of fear.

Just what warped season am I talking about?

Of course it's that green, yellow, purple and gold week that comes around every 12 months for the big University of Oregon vs. University of Washington football game. That's right, it's interstate football rivalry week in the northwest - and I ain't talking about Oregon State or WSU.

It's a week more about the fans and alumni of UW and UO than the players and coaches. On a purely football level, those actually involved on the filed get less worked up about the rivalry. Sure, a rivalry, but nothing compared to how the fans feel about it.

No...indeed, this week is about fans and their expectations, their projections and their desires. You can read about some of my memories of this rivalry in my post from last year HERE.

All too often it is a time when one school's fans are sick and tired of hearing about the dominance of the other school over theirs on the football field - and each school has had the advantage in stretches over the last 20 years. It's a week of "this year it's going to be different," or if you're on the currently prevailing side of things it's the year of "we're going to wipe you out again just like last year." Both sentiments usually peppered with a little bit of profanity.

Lets face it. Neither school's fans can stomach losing to the other.

UW fans usually take the perspective that theirs is the more historically dominate squad given their nice run of success in the 1980s and early 1990s, the half national championship for the 1991 season and an overall historical advantage head-to-head against Oregon. From this perspective, Husky fans are still able - despite fielding horrible teams over the past decade - to take a position of superiority over Oregon fans. (Left: a picture from days gone by when Washington held the clear upper hand in the rivalry.) 

Oregon fans typically take the perspective of the here an now - or at least the here and since 1994. Since that year, Oregon has fielded teams that have posted a 12-4 winning record against UW - starting with that famous pick six in Eugene in 1994 to seal a victory and all the way up to a string of seven consecutive eviscerations of the Huskies leading up to this year's game. Any Duck fan under the age of about 30 has only seen majority Oregon wins against Washington. This recent dominance, combined with some really, really bad UW teams gives Oregon fans the ability to take a position of superiority. (Right: a picture from the more recent era in which Oregon has dominated.)

And so it goes. And so it will be this week and into Saturday for the game. After all, it is THAT time of year again.

I'll be going to that game by the way. I'll make some mental notes and perhaps take a few pictures and report back next week.

But regardless, fans of both schools this week will indulge in this crazy ritual, this predictable but also unusual time of year. As they make their plans, lay in supplies for tailgating, work up some new insults for their rivals and generally prepare for the game, fans from both schools will be pondering...will this be the year that UW gets back on track against Oregon with a big win or will Oregon once again step on the collective Husky throat in a multiple touchdown win?

We shall see.

(NOTE: Pictures in this post were not taken by me. They are not mine.)

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