There’s no Border War with Washington, as the Rivalry is Dead

David Miller Editorials

Never has a war been so one sided, never has a rivalry been so lopsided. Once heralded as an annual “border war” between Oregon and Washington, the Ducks vs. Dubs annual game has now turned into a mockery of what was a once a classic rivalry. The war is officially over, the rivalry is officially dead.

As an Oregon born and raised Duck fan, who is also a Husky alumni, I feel like I have some standing to weigh in on this topic. I’ve written about this rivalry before on FishDuck, but the recent results have taken a surprising turn and it is time for fans on both sides to acknowledge the new truth.

The long history of the University of Washington and University of Oregon football rivalry has been well documented. Unfortunately, 20 plus years of domination (Ducks are 17-4 in last 21 games to be precise) have made all that nostalgia moot. Yes, they’ve been playing forever, yes the hatred can be tied all the way back to the 1949 and Rose Bowl vote, but nope, this is no longer a meaningful rivalry.

Another Husky team goes down at home in 2011.

Let’s be honest, it should have been over when the Huskies lost 12 straight to the Ducks by an average of 24 points. I mean, at that point, including their winless season in that stretch (2008), the Huskies should have just moved down to DII. We could have added a WAC team to the conference and been better for it. Everyone has a bad year once in a while but a bad decade? Egads.

Since Don James retired in 1992, the Huskies have a mediocre record of 192-155-1, a 55% winning percentage in those 29 years. In the last 30 years the Huskies have been to bowl games 20 times, which sounds almost respectable, until you look at their record. They won only seven of those games. The last meaningful win was in 2000, in the Rose Bowl, against 8-4 Purdue. In 10 of those 30 years they didn’t go to a bowl game.

In that same span the Ducks went to 27 bowl games and won 12. After narrowly losing the National Championship in 2010, the Ducks won four straight bowl games: Rose, Fiesta, Alamo, Rose. We won the Rose Bowl again in 2020.

Now, you might say I’m cherry picking, that I’m not going back far enough to be fair to the Huskies, and granted, they had our number during the Don James Era, but let’s be honest with ourselves, that was DECADES ago. Since 1987 the Ducks are 22-11 against the Huskies, 20-6 since The Pick in 1994, and since 2004 the Ducks have won 15 of 17 games. In the last 27 years the Huskies have only beat the Ducks three times in Seattle, out of 15 tries! Oregon has won seven of the last eight games in Seattle. If that’s not humiliating, I don’t know what is.

With the Oregon Offensive line leaving Huskies on the ground–Royce Freeman runs away from Washington in 2014.

The Huskies haven’t been consistently good in so long that it’s pointless to even try to make the argument. Every team has bad, inexplicable days, take the Ducks vs. Stanford for example, poor officiating notwithstanding. But Montana? Montana?? Come on man.

I’m just one man standing on a small box, but I would posit that the Oregon Ducks football team should no longer consider the Huskies a hated rivalry, nay, not even a rival. The Ducks should ignore the Huskies, drop the hatred, no longer talk trash, and act like we should have started acting long ago. Like we’re the top of the PAC 12, like we’ve dominated them so long that they no longer matter. Treat them like any other team, just another game, another chance to go 1-0.
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The border war should be officially over because, let’s be honest, the Huskies surrendered their right to call this a rivalry long ago. All Ducks, fans, players, coaches, and staff should act like this game barely matters, because if history is any guide, it doesn’t.

Jake Browning goes down…and the Huskies at Autzen is always fun.

Now, we’ll always have Oregon State, but it’s hard to see who our true rival can be moving forward. I’m not saying we’ll win every game, the Arizona schools and Stanford seem to take turns playing spoiler, but that’s not enough to create a rivalry. Most of the PAC12 seems down right now, it’s hard to see any bright spots. Schools under investigation, inconsistent play, many struggling just to get bowl eligible. Perhaps Utah will step up and at least be able to consistently play us hard?

Time will tell in terms of future rivals, but one thing time has already told us is who isn’t our rival, and it’s not the University of Washington Huskies any longer.

David Miller
Washington D.C.
Top Photo by Jerry Thompson

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