New look to Oregon-Washington rivalry

May, 4, 2012
5/04/12
10:30
AM ET
Our topic is new looks to old rivalries. Other ESPN.com writers are looking at Ohio State-Michigan (Urban Meyer vs. Brady Hoke), Oklahoma State flipping the script on Oklahoma and the new feel of Clemson-South Carolina.

So why am I tossing Oregon-Washington into that pool?

Well, there's this conversation that has taken place between trash-talking Ducks and Huskies fans for years.

Ducks in 2004: We beat you 31-6.

Huskies in 2004: But when did you last win a Rose Bowl!

Ducks in 2005: We beat you 45-21.

Huskies in 2005: But when did you last win a Rose Bowl!



Fast-forward.

Ducks in 2012: We've beaten you eight consecutive years by an average margin of 25 points and never by fewer than 17 points.

Huskies in 2012: But when did you last win a Rose Bowl!

Ducks in 2012: Ha!

Huskies in 2012: Drat.

When Oregon outlasted Wisconsin 45-38 in January, it won its first Rose Bowl in 95 years. We know this because immediately after the game, coach Chip Kelly -- who often tells reporters he doesn't care about such things -- hollered to the crowd, "It's been 95 years since you could say: Oregon Ducks, Rose Bowl champions!"

I have long been an accidental tourist with this rivalry. I covered Washington's seventh -- and last -- Rose Bowl victory after the 2000 season. I've also covered a bunch of Ducks-Huskies games. I've been accused by each set of fans of being a homer for the other at least once a week since the Pac-12 blog crawled out of the Mother Ship in 2008 and went, "Ooooooo, a mailbag! This is where I'll get compliments from everyone!"

When I first arrived in Seattle in 1999, having no idea these programs hated each other, the Huskies were still the Big Brother in the Northwest. They mostly owned Oregon, Oregon State and Washington State. Now the Ducks are the top, er, Ducks. Not only have they beaten Washington eight consecutive times, they also haven't lost to Washington State since 2006 or Oregon State since 2007.

The Ducks' dominance of Washington -- winning and winning big -- has been mostly stunning. Still, the Huskies had some grounds for rebuttal. The program had been a national power and certainly would be again. And its trophy case contained seven Rose Bowl trophies. Oregon fans could -- fairly -- accuse the Huskies of living in the past, but the Rose Bowl tweak scored a point. And any honest Oregon fan will tell you it smarted.

Or it did smart. It's no longer valid. That page has turned, thereby redefining the rivalry in a measurable way.

Of course, Huskies fans can still hoist a national title into the air. Oregon still doesn't have one of those.

Yet.

Ted Miller | email

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