Washington has lost 12 consecutive times to the Oregon Ducks, dating to 2004. Finally, the Huskies, No. 5 in the Associated Press poll, have a legitimate shot at a win.
After Washington posted a 42-14 victory over Oregon Nov. 16, 2002, a Huskies team led by QB Cody Pickett (316 yards, 4 TDs), WR Reggie Williams (14 catches, 198 yards, 3 TDs) and RB Rich Alexis (122 yards) spent 25 minutes dancing and frolicking on the Autzen Stadium turf, annoying the bejeezus out of the hometown Oregon Ducks.
A year later, the scene having shifted to Seattle, Oregon SS Keith Lewis vowed in a series of inflammatory newspaper comments that this time would be different: The Ducks, Lewis vowed, would dance on the block W on the Husky Stadium turf. For two quarters, it appeared the Ducks would make Lewis a Nostradamus.
Oregon took a 10-7 lead at intermission. Upon re-entering Husky Stadium, the Ducks discovered that Pickett had a concussion and wouldn’t play anymore. That meant Oregon would be able to tee off on backup QB Casey Paus, a redshirt sophomore majoring in art history. Paus had never done anything (3-for-8 for 24 yards, 0 TDs) in his college career except take a few snaps in garbage time.
But it didn’t happen. Astonishingly, Paus led the Huskies on five consecutive scoring drives to start the second half and threw his first two touchdown passes since high school. He departed before garbage time.
Meanwhile, a pair of UW freshmen running backs, Kenny James and Shelton Sampson, both exceeded 100 yards rushing, marking the first time two UW runners gained 100 in the same game since the 2000 Apple Cup.
To add insult, fifth-year Washington senior and former walk-on Owen Biddle, a free safety, made the first start of his college career and led a UW defense that held the Ducks scoreless for the final two quarters.
Final: Washington 42, Oregon 10.
The win prompted another prolonged UW midfield dance celebration that included a variety of colorful taunts directed at the Oregon players for their unfulfilled promise of revenge.
“They had said they wanted to come out and celebrate on our field, so we took that as a challenge that they were calling us out,” said UW offensive tackle Khalif Barnes. “We wanted to celebrate on our field, as opposed to letting them do it. It felt good.”
Since that night 13 years ago, when the Huskies routed the Ducks and danced, this is the mayhem Oregon has inflicted on Washington:
|2004||31-6||K. Gilbertson||UW 7 turnovers — 4 INTs, 3 fumbles|
|2005||45-21||T. Willingham||OU QB Kellen Clemens tossed 4 TDs|
|2006||34-14||T. Willingham||Ducks 316 rush yards (Jonathan Stewart 159)|
|2007||55-34||T. Willingham||Oregon 661 total yards, 465 rushing|
|2008||44-10||T. Willingham||UW’s season opener; finished 0-12|
|2009||43-19||S. Sarkisian||“They destroyed us on special teams” — Sarkisian|
|2010||53-16||S. Sarkisian||Ducks outscored UW 35-3 in the final 27:10|
|2011||34-16||S. Sarkisian||Oregon sacked UW QB Keith Price 6 times|
|2012||52-21||S. Sarkisian||3 TDs by redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota|
|2013||45-24||S. Sarkisian||Mariota 366 yards, 3 TDs, ran for 88 yards|
|2014||45-20||C. Petersen||Oregon freshman Royce Freeman 3 TDs|
|2015||26-20||C. Petersen||OU QB Vernon Adam threw 2 TDs passes|
Much has happened during Washington’s 12-year losing streak, the longest in the 113-year history of the UW-Oregon rivalry and UW’s longest losing streak to any conference school, going back to the century before last.
Since Paus beat the Ducks, Washington is on its fifth head coach, Chris Petersen. Rick Neuheisel, Keith Gilbertson, Tyrone Willingham and Steve Sarkisian came and went.
During those 12 years, not only has UW failed to beat the Ducks with QBs Isaiah Stanback, Carl Bonnell, Jake Locker, Ronnie Fouch, Keith Price, Cyler Miles and Jake Browning, it hasn’t really been close.
Oregon outscored Washington 507-221, an average game score of 42.24 to 18.50, an average margin of victory of 23.74 points. The Ducks tallied 40 or more points eight times, including 50 or more three times. Washington got close only once, losing 26-20 last year in Eugene.
Since Washington’s 2003 victory, Oregon has twice played for the national championship. Washington hasn’t won a conference title, or even come close. The Huskies went six consecutive seasons without a bowl appearance and have not qualified for anything much bigger than the Fight Hunger Bowl.
After that 42-10 Husky win, the Huskies went 65 consecutive weeks spread over 5½ seasons without an Associated Press national ranking. They went 111 weeks without a ranking higher than No. 22. Over the same period, the Ducks held a national ranking 146 times, including eight weeks at No. 1.
Meanwhile, 47 ex-Ducks were selected in the NFL draft, 18 in the first round. UW had 23 selected, two in the first round. Oregon posted eight 10-win seasons, Washington none. Oregon players won eight major postseason awards (one Heisman Trophy), Washington two. Seven Ducks earned unanimous or consensus All-America honors vs. one for Washington.
The tally could be worse for UW. Its 12-game losing streak to the Ducks is nowhere close to the conference record for most consecutive victories by one school over another – but it’s inching up the list:
|Oregon State||USC||26||1968-99||5 Beavers head coaches during streak|
|California||Washington||19||1977-01||Cal won next five in a row (2002-06)|
|California||UCLA||18||1972-89||Cal 4 head coaches during streak|
|WSU||USC||16||1958-85||HC: Rich Brooks, Mike Bellotti|
|Oregon State||Washington||13||1986-00||UW lost as a 37-point favorite in 1985|
|Stanford||USC||12||1958-69||HC: Jack Curtice, John Ralston|
|WSU||UCLA||12||1967-78||HC: J. Sweeney, J. Sherrill, J. Walden|
|Oregon State||Arizona||12||1971-88||13 losing seasons during span|
|Washington||Oregon||12||2004-15||UW’s average defeat: 23.7 points|
A 13th consecutive loss to the Ducks would be worse than any of the 12 that preceded it, regardless of score and despite the venue (Autzen Stadium). Washington enters as the No. 5 team in the country (Associated Press poll) and a nine-point favorite after opening at 6½.
The Huskies face a team that allowed Washington State, of all clubs, to score six rushing touchdowns last week. The Ducks are expected to use a freshman quarterback, at least for part of the game. A loss at Autzen, to the suddenly beatable Ducks, would thoroughly deflate the Huskies and negate strides they made last week in vanquishing Stanford.
Many of UW’s 12 consecutive losses to Oregon were probably inevitable, given the rise of the Ducks while Washington waded through a mess following the controversial firing of Neuheisel. A 13th won’t wash with any Washington fan.