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Tako Tuesdays: Eulogy vs. Euphoria

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There are only two possible outcomes this Saturday: the end of an era, or the highest of high comedy.

Washington v Oregon Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Y’all.

It’s Happy I Hate Washington Week.

In the recent past, generally that has meant recapping glorious exploits, counting and recounting the days it has been since Washington last beat Oregon in football (4,720 days and counting), and generally feeling confident that the streak would continue. Washington has spent these last 12 years fluctuating between promising and downright rancid, while Oregon has risen to a place among college football’s elite programs. And like 3 of the last 6 meetings between the two schools, one team will enter this rivalry game ranked in the Top 5. But for the first time since 1992, the top 5 team on the field will be the Washington Huskies.

Sidebar: Did you know that since 1979, there have only been five Oregon-Washington games where neither team was ranked? That’s a pretty great stat, and speaks to how much success both programs have had over the last 35 or so years. Of course, there have been only five games in that span where BOTH teams are ranked, so maybe the next goal should be getting both programs to sustain their success at the same time.

With Oregon’s season completely off the rails and into a ditch, and Washington announcing themselves as a legitimate playoff contender with their 44-6 waxing of Stanford, this game look on paper to be just another one-sided affair in a rivalry that is ripe with blowouts; 12 of the last 14 games in this rivalry were decided by 20 or more points, and only 11 times since World War II has the margin of victory been three points or less. And neither Oregon nor Washington has ever lost this game when ranked in the top 5.

What we are left with are two possible outcomes: the end of Oregon’s 12-game winning streak against Washington - the longest by either team in the rivalry’s history, or the biggest Oregon-Washington upset of all time, as far as rankings are concerned. With that in mind, I present the following scene:


Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today not to mourn the imminent death of our dear friend The Streak, but to celebrate the 12 wonderful years it has given us. Time and time again, even when it seemed as though we had little else, The Streak was there. It was there when we went 5-7 in 2004; even a team that lost to Indiana at home still found it within them to beat Washington 31-6. It was there in 2007, when Oregon debuted its “Stormtrooper” uniforms and ran for 465 yards at Husky Stadium. It was there in 2011, when the Ducks beat Washington so badly they had to tear the stadium down afterwards.* It was there in 2013, Oregon beating a #16 ranked Washington team 45-24 to make it ten straight wins in the rivalry. It was even there last year, when a reeling Oregon squad came into Seattle 3-3, and used win #12 to begin a six-game winning streak. It’s truly been a special time for Oregon football, so let’s raise a glass to all the success that we’ve had over the past doze-

AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW YEAH! We got them right where we want them, baby!

Excuse me sir, this is a funeral.

Don’t you “sir” me, college boy. I’ve been to funerals before; you need something dead to make it a funeral. And the Ducks aren’t dead yet.

I see your meaning, and you’re technically correct. But the odds are just stacked up against Oregon right now. This is a Washington team that just put up 44 points on Stanford, including 214 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Now they get to rush the ball against Oregon’s defense, which is currently 106th in the country in yards per carry allowed and has given up the second-most rushing touchdowns of any FBS team.

Irrelevant.

Irrelevant?

You heard me.

Okay, how about the fact that Washington’s defensive front racked up eight sacks last week, and now gets to attack a young and inexperienced Oregon offensive line with either a true freshman or a happy-footed grad transfer behind them at quarterback.

Oh I’ve heard all the numbers and all the evidence. But none of it is important. I need you to think more...cosmically.

Cosmically?

Cosmically.

Do tell.

Oregon has won the last twelve games against Washington, and the Huskies have never had this good a chance at a win this entire time. When Oregon has been gettable, Washington has been all Willinghammy and awful; when Washington has been decent or good, it’s been in seasons where Oregon is blowing the doors off of folks.

Yeah, what’s your point?

Washington fans have learned how to cope with this type of disappointment. Their shells have hardened, they’re tougher to scare. Can you imagine what it will do to them if this Oregon team beats this Washington team? Right now, Oregon football is a runaway train, if the runaway train was hauling fertilizer. And was covered in bees. And was on fire. The Ducks are a mess. By contrast, the Huskies are coming off their most impressive victory in what feels like decades**. They’ve got an experienced quarterback, great skill players, a fearsome defense, and all the momentum. If Washington’s best team in the last 15 years loses to Oregon’s worst?

...the sense of hopelessness that engulfs Washington will be extraordinary?

Exactly. They’ll think, “if we couldn’t win this one, we might not win ever again”.

Huh. That would be pretty great.

Right?

We’d probably laugh about it a lot.

Totally.

Would this win get our season back on track?

Maybe. Wouldn’t have to. Can you imagine a 12-1 Washington missing the playoff because their one loss is to a 4-8 Oregon team?

Oh God, that hurts my eyes to read, please stop.

Sorry, went a little too deep there.

It’s okay, it happens when you’re acutely delusional. So what you’re saying is that the universe is conspiring to make Washington football fans miserable.

Man, I wish. All I’m saying is this: if we need to have a funeral for The Streak, then we need to have one. It’s been a hell of a run, and it’ll just motivate us to start another streak next year. But let’s have the funeral after it’s gone, yeah? Because the cosmic ether of college football is weird, and an Oregon win certainly wouldn’t be the weirdest thing that’s happened in this crazy sport of ours***. For now, our attentions are best held by scaring the bejeezus out of Washington fans with half-baked ideas, and stretches of the imagination.

Fair enough. Let’s hold off on jumping to conclusions, and just focus on what we do best: hating the hell out of Washington.

Agreed. And if we’ve only got five more days of The Streak left, we might as well live them to the fullest. Happy I Hate Washington Week to you!

And also to you.

/fin


*just believe me on this one, it’s more poetic than the truth.

**I’m hedging here because researching Washington football’s best wins of the last 25 years was NOT something I was interested in doing.

***That, of course, would be Washington State scoring 6 rushing touchdowns against Oregon last week.