Oregon Football: Looking Back at a Quarter Century of Ducks' Bowl Appearances

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Oregon Football: Looking Back at a Quarter Century of Ducks' Bowl Appearances
Mike Powell/Getty Images
Oregon lost the 1996 Rose Bowl to Penn State, but the game put the Ducks on the college football map.

After the 1963 Sun Bowl, it took the Oregon Ducks 26 years to get back to another bowl game. After finally making a return to the postseason, the once dormant program has become one of college football's best. 

Starting with a 1989 Independence Bowl win over Tulsa, the Ducks have enjoyed a quarter century of success. A date with the Texas Longhorns awaits in the upcoming Valero Alamo Bowl, meaning the Ducks will have been to 21 Bowl games in the past 25 seasons.

After appearing in back-to-back January bowl games following the 1994 and 1995 seasons, Oregon was left out of the postseason in favor of Cal in 1996, despite a head-to-head win over the Golden Bears. In the 16 seasons since being passed over by the Aloha Bowl, the Ducks have missed the postseason just once, which came after a 5-6 season in 2004.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
The Ducks stayed home for the holidays after a 5-6 season in 2004.

While the Ducks have gone bowling with regularity, they haven't always been at their best in the postseason. Through last season's Fiesta Bowl, the Ducks have gone just 9-11 in their past 20 bowl games.

Things have gotten better over the past six seasons, as the Ducks have gone 4-2 in the postseason since 2007. Regardless of how many bowl wins and losses they had, the past four seasons made up the best four-year run in program history, as the Ducks ended each season by playing in a BCS bowl game. 

After losing to Ohio State in the 2010 Rose Bowl and Auburn in the 2011 BCS National Championship Game, Oregon won back-to-back BCS games. Wins in the 2012 Rose Bowl and the 2013 Fiesta Bowl helped improve Oregon's record in BCS bowls to 3-2.

The Ducks have had some great bowl wins in the past quarter century but have also suffered some bad postseason losses. Here is a quick look at some of the postseason highs and lows of the past 25 years.

Oregon BCS Bowl Appearances
Season Bowl Game Opponent (Conference) Result
2001 Fiesta Colorado (Big 12) 38-16 (W)
2009 Rose Ohio State (Big 10) 26-17 (L)
2010 BCS CG Auburn (SEC) 22-19 (L)
2011 Rose Wisconsin (Big 10) 45-38 (W)
2012 Fiesta Kansas State (Big 12) 35-17(W)


Bowl Highlights

1989 Independence Bowl

In the current state of Oregon football, a win like this wouldn't even be on the radar. In 1989, just making the postseason was an accomplishment of epic proportion.

In its long-awaited return to the postseason, head coach Rich Brooks guided Oregon to a 27-24 win over Tulsa in the Independence Bowl. The win was the second bowl win in a row for the Ducks, but there were 26 long years between the two wins.

It was just the third bowl win in program history, but it put Oregon football on the right path by renewing interest in the program and making people take notice.

1995 Rose Bowl

The Independence Bowl put eyes back on the program, but the Rose Bowl berth took it to a whole new level. Winning the Pac-10 was huge for the program, but more importantly, the success of the 1994 season kicked off what is considered to be the modern era of Oregon football. 

The Ducks were overwhelmed by No. 2 Penn State, 38-20. Clearly, the loss wasn't the ideal outcome, but the foundation for the future of Oregon football had been set before the game was even played. 

The Ducks have missed the postseason just twice since the 1995 Rose Bowl and have become a fixture in the rankings.  

Mike Powell/Getty Images
RB Ricky Whittle and the Ducks put up a fight, but No. 2 Penn State was too much for the Ducks in the 1995 Rose Bowl.

2002 Fiesta Bowl

Not only were the Ducks left out of the BCS National Championship Game in favor of Nebraska, but they were passed in the BCS standings by two-loss Colorado after the end of the regular season.

The Ducks took offense to the BCS snub and pounded the No. 3 Buffaloes, 38-16, in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicated. 

The way it worked out was probably the ideal situation. Instead of ending the season with a probable loss to a legendary Miami (Fla.) team, the Ducks walked away with the program's first January bowl win in 85 years.

The win gave the Ducks national respect and left people wishing the Ducks would have been the team to get a shot at Miami. It also made the need for changes to the BCS system impossible to ignore. 

Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Despite being No. 2 in both human polls, the Ducks were dissed by the BCS and ranked No. 4 prior to the Fiesta Bowl.

2012 Rose Bowl

After winning the inaugural Pac-12 Championship Game, the Ducks advanced to the program's sixth Rose Bowl. After losing its previous two Rose Bowl appearances and its last two BCS games, Oregon put those streaks to bed with a thrilling 45-38 win over Wisconsin in a record-breaking Rose Bowl.

Prior to the 2012 game, it had been 95 years since the Ducks were able to call themselves Rose Bowl champions. After finally claiming a victory in "The Granddaddy of Them All," Oregon's critics could no longer point to the fact that the Ducks had a trophy case void of a Rose Bowl trophy less than nine decades old.

It also evened Oregon's overall record in BCS games to 2-2 and gave the Ducks more credibility as they continued their run towards the top of the college football world. 

Oregon Bowl Appearances Since 1989 (Non-BCS)
Season Bowl Game Opponent (Conference) Result
1989 Indepedence Tulsa (Ind.) 27-24(W)
1990 Freedom Colorado State (WAC) 32-31(L)
1992 Independence Wake Forest (ACC) 39-35 (L)
1994 Rose Penn State (Big 10) 38-20 (L)
1995 Cotton Colorado (Big 12) 38-6 (L)
1997 Las Vegas Air Force (Ind.) 41-13 (W)
1998 Aloha Colorado (Big 12) 51-43 (L)
1999 Sun Minnesota (Big 10) 24-20 (L)
2000 Holiday Texas (Big 12) 35-30 (W)
2002 Seattle Wake Forest (ACC) 38-17 (L)
2003 Sun Minnesota (Big 10) 31-30 (L)
2005 Holiday Oklahoma (Big 12) 17-14 (L)
2006 Las Vegas BYU (Mountain West) 38-6 (L)
2007 Sun South Florida (Big East) 56-21 (W)
2008 Holiday Oklahoma State (Big 12) 42-31 (W)
2013 Alamo Texas (Big 12) N/A


Bad Bowl Losses

2002 Seattle Bowl

In 30 games from the midway point of the 1999 season, through the first six games in 2002, the Ducks went 27-3. After starting 6-0 in 2002, the Ducks lost five of their last six games to end the regular season.

Despite having a very winnable game and a huge geographic advantage over a 6-6 Wake Forest team, Oregon barely showed up in the Seattle Bowl. 

The Ducks allowed 497 total yards and gained just 290 yards of their own en route to an embarrassing 38-17 loss. 

The loss ended Oregon's win streak in postseason games at three and was the first of what became four consecutive postseason losses between 2002-2006.

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
After starting the 2002 season 6-0, the Ducks faltered down the stretch and were blown out by 6-6 Wake Forest.

2006 Las Vegas Bowl

Oregon started the year 4-0 and moved to 7-2 after a home win over Washington. Then, the wheels of the season started to wobble, and the Ducks lost their last three Pac-10 games.

The wheels completely fell off against BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl. The Ducks failed to score until the fourth quarter and ultimately lost the game, 38-8. BYU dominated Oregon by gaining 548 total yards compared to just 260 for the Ducks.

The Cougars finished 11-2 and were a very good team, but Oregon had the talent to win the game going away. They played like they didn't care about being there, and it showed, as they played undisciplined and sloppy football in their worst bowl performance of the past 25 years.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Despite having a deeper and more talented roster, the Ducks were grounded by the BYU Cougars in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Oregon has been matched up with Big 12 opponents more than any other conference in the past 25 years. They have a winning record against the league in seven matchups, highlighted by wins over Colorado and Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl and victories over Texas and Oklahoma State in the Holiday Bowl.

The Ducks have faced Big 10 opponents in bowl games on five occasions in the past two decades. They split a pair of Sun Bowls with Minnesota, lost Rose Bowls to Penn State and Ohio State and beat Wisconsin in the 2012 Rose Bowl.

Oregon Bowl Record by Conference (1989-2012)
Conference Bowl Matchups Record
Big 10 5 2-3
Big 12 7 4-3
Big East 1 1-0
Independent 2 2-0
Mountain West 1 0-1
SEC 1 0-1
WAC 1 0-1


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