Washington Vs. Oregon: History of the Border War


Rivalry is an essential element to sports, whether players, coaches or fans like it or not. Some fans may take a loss to a rival team and move on the next day, while other die-hards can hold a grudge for life (e.g., Pittsburgh STEALERS). The Huskies main rivals are the Washington State Cougars, but it’s arguable that the next or equally loathed team is the Oregon Ducks, who the Huskies battle on Saturday.

How the rivalry dubbed “the Border War” began, depends on who you ask, since different fans have different stories. Some say it started in 1948, when the University of California was elected by a pool of ten schools over the favored University of Oregon as champions of the Pacific Coast Conference (PCC). At the time, the PCC champ went on to play at the Rose Bowl. UW’s part in this against UO was allegedly convincing the University of Montana to vote for Cal. More recently, others credit “The Pick” in 1994 as a pivotal moment, when Duck’s cornerback Kenny Wheaton picked off a pass by Husky QB Damon Huard (older brother of Husky QB Brock) and ran for 97 yards for a TD. This crushed UW’s potential drive and momentum and led to UO’s ultimate win, 31—20.

Regardless of how the rivalry began or perpetuated over the years, let’s look at some key numbers on this “War”:

Nov 5, 2011; Seattle, WA, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Keith Price (17) throws the ball during the game against the Oregon Ducks at Husky Stadium. Oregon defeated Washington 34-17. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE

1) Nineteen-Hundred (1900)

This was the year that UW and UO had their first match-up – 112 years ago! During that first game, the Ducks had home field advantage and they took full advantage, winning 43—0.

2) Fifty-Eight (58)

This is the total number of wins the Huskies have over the Ducks, as they lead the all-time series, 58—41—5. UW’s most dominating period over UO was during the tenure of legendary head coach Don James, from 1975—1992. James has the most wins over the Ducks as a Husky football head coach with a 15—3 record. Incidentally, in the history of UW football head coaches, James has the most wins ever, with a record of 153—57—2.

3) Eight (8)

This is the number of straight losses the Huskies have endured against the Ducks. Dawgs haven’t seen a win against their Northwest neighbors since 2003. Remember 2003? Keith Gilbertson was head coach, Cody Picket was QB and the Huskies were 5—4, 3—2 in Pac-12. This is the longest streak in the rivalry and Huskies are hoping Saturday will end the drought, albeit unrealistic with the Ducks defending a perfect record. But fans live for upsets, especially when it involves a rivalry that goes as far back as the Ducks and Dawgs.