Oregon’s True PAC-12 Rival in the 2020s

Alex Heining Editorials 42 Comments

Our beloved rivalry game with the Beavers has not only been renamed, but also particularly uneventful in the last decade (for majority’s sake). Of the last 13 meetings, Oregon State has only managed two wins against our Ducks, however the most important of wins being in the Beavers favor: the LAST one. Our Ducks (particularly the defense) fell apart on national television in 2020 against an almost criminally less talented team on paper/virtue of recruiting, a fault that the Ducks have become prone to in recent seasons. This hopefully has ignited a newfound respect for the matchup that certainly had not been lost on the program’s staff, but perhaps the players given their dominance in the recent past.

Aside from our big in-state matchup however, the Ducks have had a few recent opponents in the PAC-12 become classic matchups as the surrounding talent has begun to elevate. The PAC-12 South’s Utah, Arizona State, and USC have all provided great matchups for the Ducks over the last few seasons, while the PAC-12 North’s Washington and Stanford have had their fair share of competitive outings with the Ducks since 2010 as well.

Tom Corno

Upset Utah fans watch Brady Breeze intercept a pass.

Again, like OSU, Washington has only been able to win twice (albeit, absolutely debilitating back-to-back blowout victories) against the Ducks in the past ten years, while the rest of the matchups for the most part have been blowout victories in favor of Oregon. So if it’s just a matchup here and there that Oregon’s PAC-12 opposition is able to squeak out in the final minutes, leaving a bad taste in the collective mouth of Oregon fans, how can we really call that a true rivalry?

If that’s the case, then Oregon State hasn’t been a “true rival” in over a decade, Washington is an age-old classic game of course (but not a true rivalry at this point in time), and no other team in the PAC-12 has been as consistent a competitor as the Ducks have been under head coach Mario Cristobal’s reign. With that in mind, perhaps us Oregon fans have our own take on which team poses as the biggest threat to Oregon in the near future as a future rival.

My take is Trojan football. They haven’t been a particularly dominant program under Clay Helton, yet they simultaneously seem to be a few pieces away from being able to compete for the PAC-12 bid in top bowl games and beyond. If they’re able to “figure it out” in the next few seasons, work out the kinks and shape up their program, Our Beloved Ducks may be in for a reinvigorated matchup rivalry with the Trojans for seasons to come.

But that’s just me. Who do you think will be the true rival for the next decade of Duck football? Will Washington or Oregon State rise to their historical status of being the Ducks’ most bitter rivals, or will another program (briefly) take their place?

Alex Heining
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo By: Dennis Hammond of Long Photography

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Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Alex,….this is a fun discussion topic to check the energy of Oregon fans about new versus old rivalries. Sorry, but I want to beat USC with passion, but it is not even close to OSU and the hated-Huskies. I HATE losing to the Beavers, and losing to the Huskies puts me into a funk for a long time.

I cannot say the words, “Husky or Washington” without wanting to turn and spit.

We love to hate our Rivals and someone may have devoted part of his website to it!

Husky Husky.jpg

USC should be dominant every decade with its location, population and brand. However it has not had the AD leadership or coaching staff to harness its natural advantages. It’s a pity for them and a long awaited opportunity for our Ducks.

Jonathan Smith is a leader and winner in one of the hardest places to win in the country. He’s likely to field a winning bowl eligible team this year. The transfer portal is his friend. Smith is a good game strategist an in-game play caller whose player develop over their careers.

If Jonathan Smith coached at USC, within a few years the PAC and country would probably be looking up to him.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

That could be true, but I sense that Smith is not a leader who exudes charisma and excitement as Cristobal does. I think Smith ends up eventually as a brilliant OC somewhere as Moorhead has done.

But we have to beat him in the meantime!

But, and I hate to bring it up, he was a darn good leader in 2000 when Joey et al had a shot at the Rose Bowl and were shut down by OR ST in Corvallis.

Then, he put a beat down on Notre Dame in OSU’s bowl game.

Heck of a team. Ken Simonton, Chad Johnson and Houshmanzada (sp?) Spacing the name of the safety who intercepted Joey at least twice and I think, 3 times in this game.

What if Dennis Ericson had stayed in Corvallis?


Honestly lets just all agree that losing to OSU to me should be on the staff. They do not have equal talent at all. I just expect more from this staff next Fall. Teams like OSU, WSU, Arizona, Colorado and the other teams with half the talent we’ve accumilated. We need to be beating these teams by double digits and this helps keep your other players excited because they know they will get play in the 2nd half.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Absolutely on the staff from several aspects. Part of being a champion is beating those you should and winning anyway on the day that nothing is going well…

CJ Verdell surrounded_Karl Maasdam of OSU Athletics.jpg

1 of the most amazing stats Saint Nick has posted at Bama. Since his first season in Tuscaloosa he has not lost to an unranked (outside the top 25) team.

Darren Perkins

Oregon’s biggest rival is …. Wait for it…. Oregon!!!!

Can the Ducks step-up, take the bull by the horns and be the “it” program in the Pac-12 the way Ohio State, Clemson, Oklahoma, and Alabama are in their conferences?

The pieces are in place and the stars have all aligned for this to happen. Will the Ducks finally “just do it?” Or continue to beat themselves multiple times a year?

The time is now.


This. I believe that, for the most part, in the PAC only Oregon can consistently beat Oregon. The problem is, they’ve been doing a pretty good job of it over the last few years.

BTW…what do you think will happen to LSU and Orgeron with this latest news? My guess is nothing…”Forget it Jake, it’s LSU”. Even if Orgeron dismissed rape accusations by purportedly saying, “everybody’s girlfriend sleeps with other people”.


Darren Perkins

Ah Chinatown, great movie. Geez, who knows what’ll happen, an awful situation. But, if they get heavily sanctioned then hopefully the Ducks can snag a transfer or two or three ….

Jon Joseph

Darren, it’s the SEC. Heavily sanctioned?

Ole Miss ran a play for pay program and lost one third of the scholarships the NCAA took away from USC.

Tennessee is the latest pay for play program outed in the SEC. Again, compared to the SC sanctions I bet TN gets a slap on the wrist. Somewhere close to what Oregon received for using a ‘runner.’

Of course, Chip was the only one using a 3rd party to help with recruiting? Right?

Darren Perkins

You’re right. But, times are a changin’. I’m futility holding out hope.

Jon Joseph

Spot on D.

Instead of getting $55M per annum from CBS to broadcast the game of the week, Disney/ESPN will be paying $300M plus!

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Do I sense an article topic here that could be discussed further? Amen, as you are quite right Darren…

Darren Perkins

Maybe 😉


Cristobal needs to take his Ducks by their pin feathers and shake them up =bull by the horns.

J Duck

USuC will find a way to keep drawing 5 star recruits and go 8-4 with the occasional 6-6 season. David Shaw is a great coach but Turd will just not be able to recruit enough 4.3 speed to match the 1570 SAT’s. Mutts and Bark Rats…will consistently not match up. Our biggest rivals will become tOSU, Bama, Okie, Clemson etc. in the playoffs year after year. I hope.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

I love your vision as that would sweet!

Jon Joseph

I like Shaw. But a guy like Saban has adopted to ‘modern’ football and Shaw is still playing with a full back.

Jon Joseph

I think that if Helton does not win the south, at least, this season and comes away with an L at Notre Dame, he will be at last gone?


I like Helton at USC. Works in Oregons favor.


Rivalry is not so much in the winning, or losing, or point differential. It’s in the fans’ minds and hearts. Win or lose, our true rival is the team we fans rail against and hope for their demise.

So, speaking for Duck fans everywhere (okay, well…trying to), I’d say that we feel somewhere between apathy and sorrow for the Beavs. We hate losing to the little fellas, sure. But we’ll still cheer them on when they play others…Oregon pride, here.

Washington is a different, flea-bitten beast. We fans have true animosity for that team and cheer every team they play to beat the snot out of them. Maul ’em. Bring them to their hairy, bony knees.

So…easy choice. Winning or losing records are beside the point. Historic passion of fans is the thing. THE rivalry for this decade, and likely much longer, is with…UW (pronounce “UH”). No other teams need apply.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Mudslide….you made me want to stand up and clap, as you wrote it perfectly. You stated my feelings as well!


Long term every year rival for me is O St. You always want to beat your in state rival regardless of it’s relevance at the time.

Short term rival would be the winner of the south assuming the Ducks win the north.

USC is a rival on the recruiting trail and will always be a tough game.

Utah just doesn’t have that swagger that USC does so even when we play them it feels like another game with Furd.

Fuskies are kind of a thorn in the side as they always bring it and beating them usually means you win the north.

I just wish the Ducks would beat someone important. Auburn, Ohio St, etc.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

OK, you make some great points, but that Utah comment is so true and brought a guffaw from me!

Thanks for the morning laugh–great stuff.

Agree, smile on face, but at Utah this year if Brewer stays healthy, will be a witch. Whittingham has done a great job going to the transfer portal to meet his team’s needs. Especially, at QB and RB.

If I may recommend 1 bet for 2021 it is Utah +1500, no joke, to win the Pac-12.

Like the Ducks need to get rid of the o-for in Columbus, Utah needs to do the same at USC.


Up to this point of the Cristobal era, our biggest rivalry is our own team. The rivalry between the team who beats SC last year, and curb stomps Utah the year before and the let down games is the one we need to win.

There will always be rivalries between OSU and Oregon, even the lowly Huskies. With so many California kids playing for the Ducks, SC will stay a rivalry, although the Helton era has been, and will continue to be a blessing.

The team that lost to OSU last year, and ASU the previous year is the team we need to beat going forward. Even the team that lost to Auburn to start the season needs to be put to rest.

The era of The Mighty Oregon Football Team needs to begin in earnest this year. The defense, with so much talent, needs to shut down any team who may think they can compete. The offense should, as Charles has noted many times, bring the average scoring over 40 again. The true rivalry is dominating the demon of the let down game, and performing up to and exceeding the potential of all the parts. This is my vision of the rivalry game we need to win every time!

J Duck

I think you are right…beating ourselves. Last year was a fluke year overall, although all the teams were dealing with it…hopefully we really spread our wings from here on out.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

You and Darren (above) nailed this and I completely agree. After you have assembled the talent….it becomes a mental game for both the players and coaches, IMHO.

Jon Joseph

Hearing The Flowe?

Slade-Matautia, 2 year starter with 127 tackles, has entered the transfer portal.

THIS is a tough one for this grey-beard to swallow. What happened to competing and never giving up? What happened to TEAM above ME?


I only hoping that Flowe looks so much better that he convinced he won’t play much at all. But doing it as an upperclassman with proven performance is weak. It stinks. There is nothing good about this to say. It’s not even good for him. If he misses the NFL and came looking for a job this would be a disqualifying resume entry. Loyalty only to self is gross. .


Sorry but Slade is transferring out and he was lets say a pretty stinking good ILB. He has seen the writing on the wall Flowe will be just to good to keep off the field. Looking forward to watching him beat the guy across from him 99% of the time making ESPN highlight plays.

Jon Joseph

MTD, great comment. I think this may be a generational thing?

I get your point. But if a guy wants to excel on his own, how about playing golf or tennis?


Life in the transfer portal. This sort of thing will become more common. I don’t begrudge any player for taking steps that may help them better meet their goals, career and otherwise. But, as you said, what happened to TEAM, to COMPETING?

I fear these are intangibles that make teams great and why we are going to miss them.

Jon Joseph

tee, we now have ‘free agency’ in CFB with none of the restraints one sees in the NFL. Including, being seriously penalized for tampering; loss of draft picks.

I expect after spring practice every season, guys not guaranteed to start will be approached one way or the other, by other schools.

And any kid who lights it up in the G5 after being missed coming out of high school? He gone! 1 reason the powers that be are assuring at least 1 spot for the G5 in a 12 team field.

I am wholly conflicted. Better for the individual which is IMO, good. Bad for the team which IMO, stinks.

Jon Joseph

Thanks Alex.

Not sure the # of defeats is that important in determining the main rival? The Ducks dropped 4 straight to WAZZU but I doubt many Oregon fans look at WA ST as a big rival.

USC? It’s tough when the Ducks don’t play SC every year to, IMO, consider the Trojans to be a big rival. Of course, because of history it is always great to take down the once mighty SC. And there is the big city/small city thing going on as well as the number of the Cali guys on the roster.

Get rid of divisions and the kow tow to SC in particular, that has the California schools playing every year and with more games, talent-wise, SC would be a natural rival. But I very much doubt that Helton has the coaching chops to bring SC back to glory. Besides, from SC’s POV, its rivals are UCLA and Notre Dame.

Geography, the proximity of the opponent, has always had much to do with CFB rivalries. UCLA/USC, Arizona/ASU, Alabama/Auburn, Ohio State/Michigan, what used to be TX/TX A+M, what used to be Pitt/W VA, UW and WAZZU, Oregon/Oregon State, etc.

Accordingly, I think UW and Oregon State, regardless of the recent records in the series, are and will remain to be, Oregon’s biggest rivals.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

You always think this through so well, and I’m glad I agree with your conclusion.

I sense that the proposed changes in the Pac-12 are going to be tasty-topics to discuss at length in the future!

Thanks Charles.

We don’t know when but CFB is going to a 12 team playoff field.

When this happens, divisions that do not guarantee a 1 vs 2 champ game and 9 conference games vs 8 must be given a lot of thought.

8 game ACC + SEC have never missed a playoff. The year Ohio State won it all (sigh) it had a bad loss to Va Tech but the 8 game B1G conference schedule gave it another OOC cupcake to play instead of say, going on the road to play Iowa.

How about a home game vs Portland State in 2019 instead of going on the road to play ASU?

In the BCS/Playoff era no conference has shot itself in the foot like the Pac-12.