The Oregon Ducks and the University of Washington Huskies have a storied rivalry where fans of both schools bitterly detest fans of the other.
For years during the Don James era back in the 1980’s, it was disturbingly one-sided with the Huskies routinely pummeling the hapless Ducks while mocking their Disneyland uniforms, starting with a 54-0 rout in 1975.
Over the next 23 years things failed to improve for our weak-kneed feathered friends, as the University of Washington Huskies showed up year after year and beat this team senselessly.
It was an on-going slapdown. Soon Duck fans were so incensed that they started beating up trees and shook their enraged fists at the unfairness of all of this in a drunken stupor.
Feathers have been a-twirl ever since, like a younger brother trying to live up to a Hall of Fame older brother. Every accomplishment is tarnished by the knowledge that the bar is impossibly high and there is no way to even things out.
After all, it was and still is difficult to become a University of Washington Husky. UW doesn’t just let any chimpanzee into this storied institution! No sir, you gotta be able to think to be a Husky!
Vastly different than how things are at Oregon, a school desperate for enrollees, located in a far away village in central Oregon that confident and self-assured people avoid like the plague.
And really, who are we fooling here? Even though the Ducks are rated No. 1 and have Phil Knight’s riches and wealth buying the team goodies, just like a 92-year-old dating hot former playboy bunny Anna Nicole Smith, they still get no respect from up north. To this day, Husky faithful continue to scorn and ridicule their inferior rivals of the south.
Oregon hoped that by having five different helmets and hundreds of uniform combinations, with feathers painted over shoulder pads, this would bring the “coolness” factor that Huskies have always enjoyed. But sadly all it brought was more howling and laughter from opposing fans delirious from the desperation it communicates.
Perhaps the reason why Duck fans are proud but still very insecure over their first-ever No. 1 college football ranking? Yet it appears that even THIS has not resolved the ongoing feelings of inferiority and frustration that Duck fans feel being in the Husky shadow.
Anyways, enough of the fun chit-chat, let’s focus on today’s action:
Today’s game started off rather surprising with the first four series ending in a stalemate, wasting the first quarter which ended tied at zero.
Early in the second quarter, Oregon finally broke the impasse after a dropped pass that led to the Ducks first field goal of the game.
After the Huskies returned the kickoff to their own 33, however, referees found it necessary to warn both sides to knock off the trash talking and cheap shots, and try to stifle the amped-up emotions of the insecure Duck team.
Early in the second quarter the Huskies got their offense firing with several Chris Polk runs and their initial first down of the day to the Duck 42, before Jake Locker‘s replacement Keith Price was sacked for a daunting second-and-19, which he quickly redeemed with a quick pass to wide receiver Devin Aguilar down to the Oregon 38.
After an underthrown ball to Jermaine Kearse, the Huskies had to settle for a 51-yard field goal attempt, which Erik Folk missed left.
Not to worry. Oregon fumbled two plays later on the Husky 42, Chris Polk scampered to the Oregon 38, and Devin Aquilar dropped a certain first down on a quick slant. This time, UW’s Erik Folk redeemed himself by drilling a 51 yard field goal to tie game at 3-3 with 8:41 left in the first half.
Oregon responded with their first sustained drive of the game to take an 11-3 lead after a quick-thinking Duck backup quarterback saw an opening in the Husky defense for a two-point conversion.
The Huskies offense, mostly stalled but still showing life, managed to drive to the Oregon 41 before finally settling for a punt, which Oregon’s sensational sophomore returner Cliff Harris returned to midfield. UW walk-on punter Kiel Rass saved a sure touchdown with a fingertip shirt-grab tackle at mid field.
Oregon scored anyway two quick plays later to take an 18-3 lead with 1:37 left in the half, still less than the rout the Oregon faithful had been eagerly counting on.
After a 22-yard kickoff return of their own, the Huskies showed their own magic with a six-play drive to the Duck red zone before settling for a field goal, stalled from an ineligible receiver penalty that negated a pretty Price-to-Kearse touchdown.
All things said and done, the 3-5 Huskies felt pretty good to be only trailing the No. 1-rated Oregon Ducks 18-6 at the half. It could have been, probably should have been, much closer.
The start of the second half saw Duck adjustments, evidenced by a quick Oregon screen pass for 62 yards. But it was negated by a knucklehead Oregon personal foul, bringing the ball back to the Duck 13.
Two plays and one Husky off-sides later, Oregon QB Thomas was stripped of the ball by UW’s Mason Foster, and the Huskies took over at the Duck 17-yard line.
A quick Keith Price to D’Andre Goodwin drifter later, and the Huskies had scored, to trail by only five points 18-13 with 13:10 left in the third period.
I should mention that at this point in the game, helpful TV announcing pals reminded the audience for 85th time, that this was indeed the first game that true freshman QB Keith Price had started.
Sadly that would be as close as it would get, as the Ducks’ Cliff Harris returned the impending kickoff 80 yards with help from terrible Husky special team coverage, and Oregon quickly scored on a one play drive with a wide-open pass to Jeff Maehl for a 25-13 lead.
Remarkably the Huskies still had life, and stopped the Ducks on the next series. Helped by an errant punt snap by the Ducks, and then drove the ball for a third Husky field goal to make it 25-16 with 6:14 left in the third quarter.
At the end of the third quarter, fans were treated once again to some of the worst tackling ever exhibited on a college football field. It left Oregon at the Husky 10 yard line but miraculously saved by a Duck holding call, which brought the ball back to the Ducks own 13-yard line.
No problem for the Ducks however, because nine plays later saw another Duck TD making it 32-16 with 3:10 left in the third period.
A quick three and out for the Huskies, a punt, and Oregon jammed it down the dawg’s throats again on a 7 play drive to make it 39-16.
Surprisingly the Huskies hung around with a 10-play possession of their own, aided by a couple of nasty penalties. But even that wasn’t enough as the Huskies were forced to punt again. And Harris once again returned it 79 yards, taking advantage of now traditional terrible Husky special teams play.
Four plays later with the ongoing no-huddle, the Ducks were sitting on the Husky 8-yard line.
At this point came an opportunity for the Oregon Ducks to demonstrate a key trait that winning coaches know. When to have class and shut it down.
But with a 39–16 lead and a scant 10 minutes left in the game, the Ducks continued with their hurry-up offense. Instead of just kicking a field goal from the eight-yard line and graciously taking the victory, like a Don James coached team, they instead opted for a no huddle fourth-and-two running play.
Followed by another no-huddle running play, resulting in a Duck touchdown.
Long after the game was settled the Ducks still went with their starting QB and a hurry-up offense. Dumb moves on many counts, least of which was the possibility for injury.
And although UW had long since stopped playing with intensity and rather satisfied to let things wind down, Oregon saw this as an opportunity to mislead sportswriters back east. So they ran up the score to 53-16 with 4:34 left after another no huddle drive.
Finally on the last drive of the game they opted to go to a normal offense with actual huddles and all that time-consuming stuff.
But it was too late. Husky fans across the globe were chuckling.
Final score: Ducks 53, Huskies 16.
(Hey kids! Don’t miss this week’s follow-up recap of Oregon vs Cal! http://bleacherreport.com/articles/517082-oregons-obnoxious-1-ducks-eek-out-unimpressive-2pt-squeeker-against-california )