The Final Pac-12 Championship: Oregon V.S. Washington
The Pac-12 Championship will kick off Friday evening. This game holds immense value to both the Oregon Ducks and the Washington Huskies for several reasons. Firstly, this is a must-win game for both teams in their hopes of making it to the College Football Playoffs. Secondly, this is the last time any team will win a Pac-12 Football Championship trophy.
While both of these facts are important and weighing on the coaches, players, and fanbase, it could not have come down to two teams with more of a bitter history. The Oregon and Washington rivalry is one that dates back over a century. The rivalry has little likelihood of changing any time soon, even after the switch over to the Big 10 Conference next season.
The Oregon-Washington Rivalry
As important and well-known as this rivalry is to the cities of Eugene and Seattle, the reasons behind it are less familiar.
The first indication that a contest was underway was during Gilmore Dobie’s undefeated reign as head coach of UW from 1908 – 1917. During the 1916 season, both Washington and Oregon had gone undefeated. They also played a scoreless game between each other. The first Pacific Coast Conference championship was awarded to the Huskies over the Web Feet, however, Oregon was awarded the bid to the 1917 Rose Bowl, defeating Pennsylvania 14-0.
Enter Norm Van Brocklin
Tension between the teams seemed to simmer down until 1948, when the Ducks had the great Norm Van Brocklin leading their team. Also, Oregon had tied with the California Golden Bears for the PCC title. To break the tie, each school in the conference cast their vote for either Cal or Oregon. Logically, fans assumed the California schools would vote for the Bears and the Northwest schools would vote in favor of Oregon.
The hopes of Oregon’s bid to the Rose Bowl were cut short when Washington instead chose Cal, allegedly roping the University of Montana to follow suit. The Bears earned the bid, and Van Brocklin never got his chance to play in a Rose Bowl.
The deal seemed to be sealed from there on, with decades of historical plays and animosity between players and fans:
- In ’62, Washington fans rushed the field during a game, tackling Larry Hill in the end zone to keep him from catching the winning touchdown.
- The infamous pick-six by Kenny Wheaton in ’94 took away the win from the Huskies and sent the Ducks to their first Rose Bowl in 37 years.
- UW’s mascot received so many death threats in ’98 that he was briefly banned from traveling to Autzen Stadium.
- The following year, Oregon fans repeatedly threw dog biscuits, urine, and feces on Husky players, according to a UW staff.
This Year Is No Different
This year may prove to be no different. Washington is fighting to hold onto their undefeated status and slip into the CFP, while Oregon wants revenge on their one regular season loss to the Huskies and to take their spot. Ducks Quarterback Bo Nix is a favorite to win the Heisman Trophy this year and has shown throughout each game why his name is topping the list.
Who will come out victorious and have the chance to take it all the way to the College Football Championship game?
Tune in Friday at 8:00 PM EST on ABC or ESPN and choose your side of this rivalry for this historic game.
Stacey Cumming is a contributor and co-editor for the Basketball team on Back Sports Page. A Graduate from the University of Oregon in Journalism, she has four years of sports reporting experience, including covering the Oregon Ducks, working with NFL Films, and various interview opportunities with Tyler Lockett, Kalenna Azibuike, Jordan Kent, and more. Cumming takes part in various podcasts such as OnSide Take, and Sofa Sports with her father, Roger Cumming. For more on Stacey, follow her on Twitter @StaceyKean and check out more of her articles here.