Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
Despite Washington's lack of recent success against Oregon, the hate that fuels the bitter rivalry remains strong.
Oregon vs. Washington. The Pac-12 North's most hate-filled rivalry between its two most passionate fan bases. Yes, between the fans, not the teams, because this rivalry has little to do with the players, and everything to do with two diametrically opposed groups of people who resent the hell out of each other. It's a rivalry with a long history, both on and off the field. Here's an excellent timeline chronicling a century of hate, featuring subterfuge, poor sportsmanship and even betrayal.
It's old money against new, tradition against flash, a trophy case against a now-perennial top-five national ranking.
For Washington fans this game represents a chance for the once and future king of Northwest football to reclaim its throne and to restore order to the way of things.
For Oregon fans this game is a chance to yet again blow out a program that once slighted them, payback for decades of disinterest and disrespect. It's a game that deserves a title, and a rivalry that deserves a trophy, say, the Columbia Cup?
The rivalry is unique in that, while UO has won eight in a row, their domination has not caused the rivalry to stagnate, but only grow stronger. Typically such a one-sided rivalry - particularly in a manmade one such as this, as opposed to a natural, traditional rivalry - would start to lose its luster as the losing fans became numb to the effects of losing, and the predictability of winning tempered its sweetness for the victors.
But Oregon's win streak is what makes this rivalry so fierce, at least, in its current form. Husky fans are used to beating UO - the Huskies still lead the series 58-41-5 - and as the losses pile up, the frustration at being unable to beat their flashier, hipper neighbors to the south builds.
So too do the wins magnify the rivalry for Oregon fans, each successive beat down of the Huskies fueling their lust for vengeance, and reaffirming their status as Top Dawg until proven otherwise.
Now that the UW has finally beaten Stanford, the rivalry should only grow. Washington is the only program in the Pac-12 north with the money and infrastructure to consistently compete with Oregon.
If and when they start to do so, the Columbia Cup could easily decide the North's representative in the Pac-12 Championship Game more often than not. This game could decide Rose Bowl representatives sooner rather than later.
And when it does, the hate will only grow. For one school's gain is the other school's loss; both schools root against each other every time. If you think Husky fans hate seeing Oregon in the Rose Bowl, imagine how much Oregon fans would hate seeing the UW in that game at their expense.
But for now, it's but a rivalry game. A game that everyone, their mother, and the ever-omniscient Las Vegas assumes will be another in a string of blowouts by the Ducks. But dammit it's a rivalry game and bragging rights are on the line.
And while neither the winner, loser, nor score is guaranteed, what is certain is that the winners will crow and pound their chests, the losers will seethe, and the cycle of animosity will continue for another year on message boards, online articles, office rooms and schools.
Because, while the physical battle may take place on the football field, the rivalry manifests itself in the hearts and minds of the fans.
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