What’s Behind Oregon’s HOSTILE rivalry with Washington?

Welcome to “Husky Hate Week.” I know, I know, it’s a little harsh, but its tradition after all, right?

Unlike the semi- light-hearted and fun, “House Divided,” Oregon vs. Oregon State Civil War, the Oregon vs. Washington rivalry is full of hostility. To prove this point, I took to Facebook to poll hundreds of Oregon fans about which rivalry they were most passionate about (very official, I know). The clear winner, by far, was the Ducks vs. Huskies. If you’ve ever wondered why, here’s the QUICK breakdown:

For decades the Ducks were the underdog to the Husky Football power house. Not only were the Huskies a top team in the conference, but they were a top team in the country. In 1994, the #9 Huskies were again well on their way to another Rose Bowl, when Jerry Allen’s famous call and “the most improbable finish to the football game” happened, turning Oregon’s underdog status around for years to come.

The Huskies were about to score a game-clinching touchdown, when Oregon Hall of Famer, Kenny Wheaton, intercepted Washington’s QB, Damon Huard’s pass, running it back 97 yards for a game winning touchdown! It was a play that happens regularly in college football, but that moment became one of Oregon’s greatest and Kenny’s “Pick”. That fateful moment is believed to be the turning point for the Duck Football program and an added sword in the Ducks vs. Huskies Rivalry.

The battle has only heated up since that amazing play in 1994, becoming the nastiness shoot out in the Pac-12.

In 2002, Led by then Head Coach, Rick Neuheisel, the Huskies defeated the Ducks at Autzen Stadium. After the victory, the entire Husky team danced center field on the “O” for 30 minutes! Yes, 30 minutes. The the following year, after one Duck threatened to return the favor at Husky Stadium, the Huskies (after winning) again danced center field on the “W” while barking at the Ducks as they exited the field.

The following year (2004), Oregon finally got revenge. Twelve years of it in fact.

From 2004-2015, the Ducks had their way with the Huskies. It was a glorious ride for the Oregon faithful until the streak came to a screeching halt on an ugly, cold night on October 8, 2016. The #5 Huskies entered Autzen Stadium as clear favorites and handled business. The 70-21 Husky victory was the rivalry’s largest margin of victory on record and consequently helped seal then Oregon Head Coach, Mark Helfrich’s fate a few weeks later.

Last season, the Huskies, finally in their prime under Head Coach, Chris Petersen, took advantage of the Ducks rebuilding year under first year Head Coach, Willie Taggart, by handing the Ducks yet another devastating loss (38-3).

History lesson over.

This weekend’s rivalry match-up is yet again primed and ready for a hostile clash. Both teams, now ranked in the top 20 (Washington #7 Oregon #17), will be fighting for a place atop the Pac-12 North. Washington will also be playing to keep their College Football Playoff berth alive, while Oregon looks to prove it is back on the college football scene under new Head Coach, Mario Cristobal’s leadership.

“Husky Hate Week” may now commence.

Game time is set for 12:30pm at Autzen Stadium and will be aired on ABC and ESPN2.

Will you be there?

Follow Nichole on Twitter @UOgridirongirl 

3 Comments on What’s Behind Oregon’s HOSTILE rivalry with Washington?

  1. Thanks for the read friend. It is going to be a madhouse at Autzen this Saturday. The Fuskies have a first round QB and a tough D line and are all around a killer team Over the last couple years. I’m excited to see how this unfolds and how our coaches and players will rise to the occasion.
    Go ducks

  2. Kristi Riscili // October 11, 2018 at 11:25 am // Reply

    I was pregnant with Jed while watching the 94’ game. I was sure it wasn’t over for the Ducks (eternal optimist), and when Kenny Wheaton picked it off, I could hardly handle myself! I’m sure Jed got a big surge of Duck adrenaline! One of the best games ever!

  3. Patrick Pine // October 11, 2018 at 12:58 pm // Reply

    Good article. Having followed the Ducks since the 70s and having a former college grad school roommate from Seattle/Everett but also a UO grad I learned about the rivalry long before it became heated. There is one other reason Ducks fans tend to get riled up for Huskies games – historically Seattle and UW have been bigger and wealthier than Portland and UO and for decades it felt like UW fans brought an air of superiority in all things with them to the games. After UO’s program began to rise in football in the mid 90s it felt as though those of us supporting the Ducks started to be much more vocal, aggressive and confident. Before it felt like a big brother little stepbrother relationship with a big brother lording it over little stepbrother – but later it is as if the little stepbrother grew up and developed muscle and had more economic support and started to aggressively fight back. The only problem is now a faction of Ducks fans may have become to aggressive.

    That said I have always looked forward to the Ducks vs Dogs game – even in the bad old days when the team from up north dominated.

    And there is no question that the “Pick” lit the fuse for the Oregon football program.

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