It has been said that the West Coast lacks the passion for football the southern states have. Our rivalries lack the intensity, and our fanbases lack passion. The northwest border war between Washington and Oregon , however, does not fit that stereotype at all.
While the two teams have met 90 times, it wasn’t until the last 20 or so that the rivalry took it up a notch.
Washington’s success in football stretches across many decades. For Oregon, it hasn’t been until recently that the program found its way to the elite of the PAC-10.
For a long time Washington fans did not look at Oregon as much of a rival, but the all time series is still led by Washington by over 20 games, despite the Ducks' recent success. Because of this perceived elitism, the rivalry has taken a nasty turn.
The two fanbases just do not like each other.
Each program has an in-state rivalry, and not to take anything away from those, as they are intense, but there is a general feeling of genuine dislike between the Washington and Oregon fans.
Washington’s last run at the top came from '90-'99. From 2000 through 2009 it has been all Oregon. The two other northwest programs have witnessed success in that time period, but the last 20 years have belonged to the Ducks and Huskies.
Oregon’s current run had roots during the '90s that the Huskies dominated. In 1994 Oregon won the PAC-10 and made an appearance to the Rose Bowl and have built off of that and made themselves into a perennial contender.
The Huskies have fallen flat on their face in the 2000s. This has been the worst 10 years in the Huskies history, including setting a record in futility with a zero win season.
It would be easy to say Oregon has simply taken advantage of Washington’s floundering and took over as the leader of the Northwest.
That isn’t entirely accurate, though. During Washington’s run from '90-'99, there was no other PAC-10 team in the top 25 for winning percentage. The Huskies had the PAC to themselves statistically speaking.
Oregon, on the other hand, has had to deal with two programs in the top 25 during this decade, including the freight train located in Southern California.
Oregon has had competition to deal with; it has just not come from Washington.
When comparing the programs, a number of factors should be considered.
Winning Percentage: Even
1990-1999: Washington was 82-35-1 and had a winning percentage of 69 percent.
2000-2009: Oregon was 87-38 for a winning percentage of 69 percent.
More games were played during the 2000s, but overall the two programs had very similar runs in terms of wins and winning percentage.
Bowl Games: Washington
1990-1999: Washington posted a record of 3-5 with two Rose Bowl Wins/ National Title.
2000-2009: Oregon posted a bowl record of 4-5 with one BCS Bowl Win/ Two appearances.
For comparison sake we will count the bowls that are now considered in the BCS as equal to a Rose Bowl victory. It was because of the system and not Oregon that the team made a Fiesta Bowl appearance in 2001 rather than the traditional Rose Bowl bid.
Oregon played in one more bowl game and posted a winning bowl record, but Washington was named co-national champions for the 1991 season.
In addition to the national title, Washington won two BCS level bowls compared to Oregon's one.
Washington was placed on a two year postseason probation during this time period, which means that the team only played in eight bowl games during the decade.
Record vs. Rivals: Oregon
Washington: The Huskies posted a 6-4 record vs. Oregon and a 7-3 record vs. Washington State.
Oregon: The Ducks posted a 7-2 record vs. Washington and a 5-5 record vs. Oregon State.
The Oregon team Washington faced in the '90s was not as bad as the Washington team Oregon has beaten up this decade.
On the other hand, Washington State was not near as a competitive as Oregon State has been for Oregon this decade.
Washington State only posted a .500 or better record three times during the '90s, where as Oregon State has six such seasons.
Players Drafted: Washington
Washington: 46 drafted (42 in first seven rounds)
Oregon: 32 drafted
Both programs have produced their fair share of NFL prospects during their recent runs of success. It wasn’t until 1994 that the draft was cut down to the current format of seven rounds.
Taking that into account, Washington still had 42 players drafted.
PAC 10 Titles: Washington
Washington: Four (two shared)
Oregon: Three (one shared)
While Washington did not have consistent competition for the PAC-10 title, there were different teams that won the PAC. During the last 10 years, Oregon has had to contend with mostly USC, but also Oregon State on a regular basis.
Washington and Oregon’s 10 year recent runs of success in the end are vary comparable.
While Oregon might not have a team as dominate as Washington’s 1991 National Champions, the sustained success over the decade has been impressive and statically speaking very similar.
Oregon has made its name with an explosive and unique spread option offense that at times has looked absolutely unstoppable.
Washington made its name by playing a smothering brand of defense, which at times looked impenetrable.
Both teams, like most successful programs, have found off the field troubles. Washington’s was more extreme, as it led to a lack of institutional control.
Oregon could be headed down a dangerous path with off the field troubles recently, and if they are to maintain their success into the next decade, it will need to get that under control.
The circumstances were so different for both teams that it is hard to say which run turned out more impressive.
Washington owned the PAC-10, and their three consecutive Rose Bowl appearances will always stand as a symbol of domination for the conference, not seen until USC became even more dominate again in the late 2000s.
Oregon has found a similar amount of success in a more cut-throat PAC-10, but Washington’s National Championship put them over the top, although not by much.
The Ducks were perhaps a healthy Dennis Dixon away from being able to claim not only a national title, but a superior 10 year effort over the hated Huskies. A victory in this years Rose Bowl would have also enhanced the Ducks resume.
It may be living in the past, but after the decade we have endured while watching Oregon rise, Husky fans need any sort of smack we can throw at the Ducks.
Going into the next decade, Oregon’s program is ahead of Washington. Washington, however, is headed back in the right direction and will not be down for much longer.
Oregon was able to make a smooth coaching transition, something that has killed Washington, but will need to keep their program out of the news if they want to find continued success.
The next 10 years will be interesting to watch. Can Washington ever regain their momentum? Will Oregon maintain their current level of success?
Something tells me this next decade is going to be very fun to watch for both schools.