It's that week of the college football season. If you live in Washington or Oregon, you know what I mean. It's the week the University of Oregon and University of Washington football teams square off in a bitter, bitter boarder rivalry.
Hate and war...at least among the fan bases.
As a UO grad who grew up in Seattle and who lives there now, it's also a week that determines how much crap I'll get from UW fans for the following twelve months. This year, the plan is to gather with a mixed group of UO and UW friends to watch the game at a local pub. We'll see how that goes!
As we collectively prep for the big game, I thought I'd take a few minutes for a pre-emptive strike against my UW "friends" to remind them how lop-sided the "rivalry" has been recently.
First, historically Washington owns the advantage in the overall record of the rivalry. Give them their due. Stretching back over the past 114 years, UW has won 58 of the games to 43 for Oregon. There have been five ties over the years too. The long stretches of UW dominance over the decades is what built up the bitterness among Oregon fans for Washington football. Or, more accurately, hate for Washington football fans. Yep. The unmitigated arrogance and condescending attitude from many UW fans is why it was so sweet when the Ducks won in 1994 on the famous Kenny Wheaton interception and why regularly kicking Husky butt nowadays is such a pleasure.
Speaking of which, over the past 20 years Oregon has won 15 of the battles with Washington while UW has won four. The teams didn't play in 2001. And over the last 10 years it's been 100% all Oregon winning the games - all by substantial margins. Right now, the compelling nature of this game every year is if, when, where and how will Washington win again. My prediction is not this year. Their best shot is going to be in 2015.
Below is a re-cap of the "decade of Duck dominance" with games I personally attended marked with a *. I've added a few recollections too.
2013 in Seattle*. UO 45-UW 24. As a Seattle resident, I remember hearing many in the Seattle sports media saying that UW really had a great chance to win and probably would. So much so that I actually started believing them and was nervous about it. I need not have worried. Oregon QB Marcus Mariota had a huge day, throwing three TD passes and 366 yards through the air. He ran for 88 yards and a TD as well. This game was close through the first half, then snowballed in Oregon's favor in the second half. A friend and I sat in the Oregon section way, way, way up in the rafters of the renovated Husky Stadium. Oh, and the only crap I received from a UW fan was pretty weak...before the game in "The Zone" eating and drinking area a very inebriated UW student walked up to me and slurred out, "Your shirt fucking sucks." He stood there droopy eyed and repeated his statement, expecting me to react. I just ignored him. He eventually shambled away.
2012 in Eugene. UO 52-UW 21. This was the first boarder rivalry game played by UO QB Mariota. He did well, throwing for four TDs. The Oregon D also had a "pick six" off UW QB Keith Price.
2011 in Seattle*. UO 34-UW 17. This turned out to be the "closest" game across the ten year stretch of consecutive Duck wins. It was also a night game and the last to be played in the old Husky Stadium before the renovation project was to begin. Note, not the last Oregon vs. Washington game before the remodel...no, the last game ever in the old structure. What happened? Oregon won. That's what. UO RB LaMichael James had a big night running the ball. I sat in the old west end-zone section with Oregon fans. This was one of the worst places to watch a game at old Husky Stadium because of how far you are from the action. And, it's why UW allocated that section for visitors tickets.
I recall going out on the concourse at halftime and witnessing two incidence of abuse by UW fans. First, standing in line to get a hot dog...all of a sudden a body comes flying into my back, making me stumble forward. Turns out, a UW fan had shoved an Oregon fan and that fan fell into me. Wheeling around, I saw that the offending person was young and clearly drunk. He wanted to fight anyone not wearing purple. Some cooler-headed Husky fans somehow got him out of there before security showed up. The next thing that happened was standing in line to use the restroom. The way Husky Stadium was constructed at the time was that fans with seats at the very top of the U-shaped west end zone section could turn around and look directly down on the concourse. It happened that a drunk 50-something UW fan had done just that and was shouting abuse at Oregon fans as we waited in line to go to the restroom. Between his stream of profanity, he peppered in the line "win a Rose Bowl." (Oregon did that just a few weeks later by the way.) I fully expected this guy to throw something on us or spit at us because we were sitting "ducks" in line there. He didn't. But, all the guys in the line with me - UO and UW fans alike - agreed that you don't want to be that guy...middle age, drunk, swearing and spewing hate at people about college football.
2010 in Eugene. UO 53-16. After a 0-0 score at the end of the first quarter, UW fans had reason to be hopeful. With Jake Locker out, young backup Keith Price played QB for Washington...and looked pretty good all day long. But, reality hit in the second quarter and another wipe-out of Washington ensued. I watched this one at home in Seattle. I remember thinking I was glad not to have made the trip because it wasn't much of a game and the weather was bad down there in Eugene.
2009 in Seattle*. UO 43-UW 19. A game played on a wonderfully sunny fall afternoon. We took the party boat from Ballard to Husky Stadium wearing our Oregon gear. Dawg fans were good natured on the ride before the game, silent to us on the way back. I met KJR sports radio personality Mike Gastineau on the boat. Nice guy. Oh, and the game wasn't close...again. I recall Locker throwing an interception just as it looked like UW might get into the game with a score. All downhill for them after that.
2008 in Eugene.* UO 44-UW 10. This was a night game and an early outing for new UW QB Jake Locker. Meanwhile, it was also the debut at QB for Oregon's Jeremiah Masoli. Even the home PA announcer didn't know how to pronounce Masoli's last name (it's Mah-sOH-Lee). UW would go on to win exactly zero games the rest of the 2008 season. A friend and I went down for the game. We spent the sunny, hot afternoon perched outside on the patio at Taylor's near campus...which was a lot of fun. Eventually, some other UW fan friends from Seattle joined us for the walk over to the stadium. Which left me as a lone Oregon fan amongst 3-4 Husky buddies. This proved not to be great for us as we somehow fell in with some young, amped up and drunk Oregon fans who a) were eager to give maximum shit to any UW fan, and b) did not appreciated that I, as an Oregon fan, was walking with Washington fans to the game. You can read about that episode and my reaction to it in my post titled "There's An A-Hole In Every Crowd (Sometimes Two)."
2007 in Seattle.* Oregon 55-UW 34. This was the game where UW fans cheered mightily on a play where they thought Washington's defense has stuffed a run up the middle only to realize to their horror that the Oregon QB, Denis Dixon, had actually pulled the ball out and was running unabated down the sideline for a score. UO running back, and Tacoma-area native, Jonathan Steward had a great day too...rushing for 251 yards.
2006 in Eugene. UO 34-14. Anyone remember who was the starting UW QB that day? Carl Bonnell. Me neither. This was the third year in a row the game was played in Eugene - an anomaly of scheduling and not some secret conspiracy to "screw" the UW. Washington fans like to forget there were stretches where the UO vs. UW game was played in connective years in Seattle - 1989-1991 for example. All Husky wins by the way.
2005 in Eugene*. UO 45-UW 21. A big day for Oregon QB Kellen Clemens and another big win for the Ducks. This was a game that a friend of mine and I did the whole trip from Seattle to Eugene and back in one day...a very LONG day. But, it was a longer day for my friend as he is a Husky fan. I also recall a funny episode at Taylor's bar before the game. We stopped in for some food and pre-game libations. My friend was wearing his UW shirt, bravely advertising he was a "enemy" fan. At one point a lovely young UO student (I am assuming she was a student) decked out in Oregon colors came up to us and fanned out a series of flyers - each with the headline "Famous Huskies" or something like that. On each was a different UW grad who, shall we say, aren't the best people - Ted Bundy, Jeremy Stevens and various other UW players who had been convicted of crimes. I think she gave my friend a choice of which one he could take. We all had a laugh.
2004 in Eugene. UO 31-UW 6. UO QB Clemens had a great day as the world was treated to the "all-neon-yellow" UO uniforms. If I recall, this game was actually NOT on TV in Seattle. A friend and I listed to it on the radio. Remember those days when games were not on TV?
And there we have it. The last 10 meetings. The two years prior, 2003 and 2002, Washington won impressively 44-14 and 42-10 respectively. Ah yes, the early 2000s. Before Facebook, iPods, Twitter, smart phones. Even the oldest players on UW were in middle school the last time the Huskies prevailed.