The last few years I've gone in depth about why we should hate. Those facts still remain true and it would be best if you went back and read this beautiful, majestic piece of writing that details why we hate the Huskies, why we still hate even though it's been over a decade since they last beat Oregon, and why it is so important to beat the Huskies for every player that never was able to during their time at Oregon. The rivalry includes Washington repeatedly trying to push the Ducks out of the conference, bribing other teams to vote for the Huskies so they could go to the Rose Bowl, the Dean of the UO Law School proving that UW had a slush fund for paying players, Scoreboard Baby, keeping starters in throughout the game to blow out the Ducks, and generally being shady people.
This year is vastly different from what I've written the past couple years. Oregon has been cruising through games the last few years. The Ducks went in as heavy favorites and took it to the Huskies in relatively uncompetitive matchups. The games were so lopsided and the teams seemed so far apart that most people I talk to in their young 20s or younger (I'm a member of fans in their 20s) didn't view the Huskies as a rival. I grew up as a Duck fan and I grew up hating the Huskies. The Beavers were the rival but they were the little brother. If they win, it's not the end of the world. They're an Oregon team and our two fanbases live side by side. The rivalry between Oregon and Oregon State is cordial, unlike a lot of other rivalries across the country where people are poisoning trees. I cheer for Oregon State in every game they play as long as it's not against Oregon.
The Oregon-Washington dynamic is not the same as Oregon-Oregon State. It's extremely different. That's because Oregon State is the rival but Washington is the enemy. As the years have gone on it appears that the game between Oregon and Washington is a zero-sum game that stretches far past the game itself. One program is always dominant while the other is struggling. Oregon's whole program turned around when Kenny Wheaton picked off Damon Huard for a touchdown to seal a win over the Huskies. (My favorite part of that play is when Kenny Wheaton cuts back across the middle of the field and Damon Huard just jogs when he totally could have made a tackle.) The game against the Huskies was a must win for Oregon to make it to the Rose Bowl game. Since then the Ducks have only dropped four games to the Huskies. Oregon holds the record for longest streak, 11, and that streak is still active. But for how long?
The last time UW beat Oregon was so long ago that Addicted to Quack has never written an article about Oregon losing to Washington in football. Other notes showing the passing of time:
Sean was still using a flip phone.
TV was still in regular definition.
LeBron, Melo, and Dwayne Wade were rookies in the NBA
Friendster was the most popular social networking site on the internet
The Florida Marlins had just won the World Series
Saddam Hussein was still alive
Lionel Messi hadn't made his debut for Barcelona
Arnold Schwarzenneger had just been elected Governor of California
Marcus Mariota had turned 10 years old.
Mark Helfrich was a QB coach at Arizona State
Chip Kelly was an offensive coordinator at New Hampshire
(Noah with the above)
YouTube didn't exist
Lance Armstrong won his fifth Tour De France
The Human Genome Project had completed 99% of the human genome sequence
The fifth Harry Potter book was released
A tiger attacked Roy Horn of Siegfried & Roy
Johnny Depp was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in the first Pirates of the Caribbean film
Tampa beat Oakland in the Super Bowl
American Idol was filming season 2
Apple opened the iTunes music store
Outkast came out with Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
Johnny Cash had passed away
The Gameboy Advanced had been released
Joey Harrington was on the cover of a NCAA Football video game
There are so many kids walking around today that have never lived in a world where Oregon has never lost to the Huskies. Cherish the moments, children, because this year is different.
The younger Duck fans, not all, but a fair amount, view Washington as a kind of pushover, which they're not. Some people I went to school with were trying to convince me that Arizona was a bigger rival than Washington. ARIZONA.
I'm not going to lie, I really hope nothing good ever happens to the Husky program. Straight up. I was hoping Sark would stay there for a long time. The 2008 Washington football team remains to this day as one of my favorite sports teams of all time because they lost every game that year, including a double overtime lost to the also winless Washington State Cougars in a game known as "The Crapple Cup."
The apathy some fans could have about the Oregon rivalry is a level of innocence afforded to the naive or ignorant. It's a comfortable perception of reality. Every diehard Duck fan knows how terrible it would be if the Ducks lost Saturday and how The Suffering impacted Oregon. After 11 years of losing, and losing badly to Oregon, the Huskies winning would be the levees breaking for their fans.
Everyone knew that Oregon would have to drop a game sometime. Teams are always rising and falling in America. But it wasn't until Oregon's loss to Utah that it became a possibility the streak could be coming to a close this year. I feel like Doc Brown from Back to the Future. "They found me. I don't know how they did, but they found me." Instead of a steady decline where we could ease ourselves into knowing we would have a tough game it was really dropped on us this season.
The fear of losing to Washington, in their second year with Chris Petersen, and statistically the best defense in the PAC-12, has given way to some form of desperation. At this point in the year my expectations are very low. I'd like to make a bowl game so that the younger players on the team can get 15 more practices to prepare for next year but beating the Huskies would be the crown jewel. This game is more important than almost anything else during the season and it has been taken for granted and a win has been expected. Forget a national championship run or a conference championship run. All I want is a win over Washington. I would rather beat Washington than beat Oregon State and it's not even close. I'd take a couple really bad losses if it meant that we could beat Washington. I might even go so far to say that if Oregon beat Washington I'd be cool with almost anything the rest of the season. I PUT IT TO YOU GREG. How badly do you want to beat the Huskies? THIS WEEKEND IS THE SEASON FOR ALL I CARE!
Right now we might be staring a future where Washington beats Oregon in football. It's a reminder that the universe is cruel and indifferent. It must be like looking at a world where Skynet has taken over.
This year we will really find how much stake the team has in this rivalry. In all honesty, fans probably (read: definitely) care more about the rivalry than the players do, especially with so many players coming from out of state. Oregon is not competing for a national championship. Unless there's an amazing turnaround Oregon is not playing for a PAC-12 championship. So how much preparation will Oregon put in? Will Oregon bounce back even harder after a double overtime loss to Washington State or will they fall further?
This game is a matter of pride. It all comes down to motivation of this one game with no larger, long-term plans at stake. In a way it might be best that there's a year like this so everyone can better appreciate the streak of dominance instead of turning the matchup into a punch line. There's a lot of passion and meaning behind this game. Whatever any given win would mean for this one year is far surpassed by beating the Huskies. There's a certain joy that comes with beating the Huskies. At many points since 1994 when the Ducks weren't competing for national championships or BCS bids there was always the guaranteed big game, no matter what, that mattered. Winning would show that at Oregon's worst the Ducks can beat Washington. A win would show that even though the program has become one of the best in the country it is still in touch with its roots. A win would continue to make up for all the Oregon football players who never got to experience a win over the Huskies and for every time Washington tried to push Oregon out of the picture or benefited from some type of injustice. It would mean the world to every fan who went to Autzen during The Suffering when the school turned a blind eye to alcohol in the stadium because they just wanted people to show up.
It's not just about rebounding from a tough loss. It's not just about winning a game. It's not just about winning a rivalry game. It's about beating the fucking Huskies. It's about winning a game that will be added to the history book of this rivalry. I want Charles Nelson to go full TJ Ward circa Cal and Oklahoma State in 2008. I want Royce Freeman to throw such massive stiff-arms that the earth crumbles beneath. I want Bralon Addison to shake someone so bad that they wish they had gotten Kobe's broken ankle insurance.
Every game tells a story and for the last eleven years Oregon has been writing the history book as winners always do. This game matters on a level that others simply do not. It always has and it always will. This game could determine a better future for the program and continue to create a world that the youngest Duck fans will want to live in, for they are our future.
Never forget, keep the hate, and fuck the Huskies.