Just How Rare is a “Decade of Dominance?”
The Oregon Ducks hate the Washington Huskies. The Washington Huskies hate the Oregon Ducks. What more could you ask for in a college football rivalry game?
These two teams have battled for bragging rights on the gridiron for more than a century, beginning all the way back in 1900. That season, Oregon State (then Oregon Agricultural College) temporarily banned its program for two years, forcing the schools to meet for the first time. The heated nature of the rivalry combined with its rich history to make it one of the most prestigious matchups in college football.
The Huskies may lead the all-time series. They may even have a couple of national titles that they voted for themselves. However, one thing that they, for certain, do not have is a “Decade of Dominance.”
The Ducks have downed Washington in each of the past 10 seasons, making for one of the longest streaks in the history of any major rivalry game. What may be most impressive, though, is the fact that Oregon has won each of those games by 17 points or more.
This is not just a Decade of Victory. It is an accurately-named Decade of Dominance.
There have been numerous huge winning streaks in rivalry games throughout the history of college football. For example, Notre Dame downed Navy for 43 straight years between 1964 and 2006. Nebraska and Oklahoma both won more than 30 games straight over Kansas.
However, these are not exactly major rivalries. The major rivalries are usually between two relatively even programs. They are between two teams that hate each other. Plus, they usually come with a cool nickname.
These major rivalries are games such as the Iron Bowl (Alabama and Auburn), The Big Game (Cal and Stanford), the Red River Rivalry (Oklahoma and Texas), The Game (Michigan and Ohio State), and the State of Oregon’s own Civil War.
The Oregon-Washington rivalry falls closer to this last category. In fact, many Oregon fans value wins over the Huskies even more than wins over Oregon State. This is a serious rivalry that has lasted for more than a century.
What is remarkable about this Decade of Dominance for the Ducks is that there really has not been anything quite like it in any of these other major rivalry games. The Iron Bowl’s longest winning streak is nine games by Alabama from 1973 to 1981. Three of those wins were by fewer than 17 points.
Michigan came close against Ohio State in the rivalry known as The Game with nine straight wins. However, that run took place more than a century ago, from 1901 through 1909.
The Big Game’s longest streak was only six wins by Stanford from 1961 to 1966, and only two of those victories were by 17 or more points.
The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party (between Florida and Georgia) has seen seven-game streaks three different times – twice by Georgia and once by Florida. During one of those runs, Georgia shut Florida out a remarkable six times.
However, this run also began more than a century ago, and it spanned from 1904 through 1927 because the two teams did not play against each other each year back then.
As for the Pac-12, USC vs Notre Dame is also an extremely prestigious rivalry. Notre Dame actually won 11 straight matchups from 1983 to 1993, but five of those wins were by only one score. Navy matched Notre Dame’s 11-year run in the famous Army-Navy game, but five of those victories were by fewer than 17 points.
To put things in perspective, Oregon’s own Civil War rivalry has seen an eight-game streak by each team. The Beavers did it from 1964 to 1971, and the Ducks’ run was only ended by the 1983 Toilet Bowl which resulted in a 0-0 tie.
Again, there have been longer streaks in every-year matchups such as those by Oklahoma, Notre Dame, and Nebraska mentioned earlier. It is also important to note that Washington has had a subpar 38-72 record over the past 10 seasons. Still, the Huskies have been ranked in each of the past two matchups, and the Ducks still had little trouble downing them by three scores.
Ten straight wins in a major college football rivalry game is certainly a special accomplishment. It is a rare occurrence that has only been seen a handful of times across the nation, in college football’s major rivalries. Though it is not always recognized everywhere, Oregon vs Washington is one of the most heated and historic matchups in college football.
When you add in the consistently dominant margin-of-victory, it becomes obvious that the Ducks have done something truly unprecedented in a major rivalry.
Though it was not part of the Decade of Dominace, Kenny Wheaton’s game-winning interception against Washington, known best as “The Pick,” launched the Oregon football program into an era of unprecedented success. These past 10 wins over Washington can join “The Pick” among the greatest pieces of Oregon football history.