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O’Neil: UW Huskies’ Dark Ages are long gone, but playing Oregon comes with fear of sliding back

The seventh-ranked UW Huskies renew their rivalry with Oregon on Saturday. (AP)

College football did not start in 1994.

This might come as a bit of a revelation to the fans of the University of Oregon, because as successful as the Ducks program has become, every game starts with a replay of the birth moment for modern Oregon football.

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Yes, Kenny Wheaton is going to score. Again. It’s their Big Bang moment.

And then the Washington Huskies are going to go out and continue to roll back the recent history that stands as the biggest blight in our program’s history.

Don’t get me wrong, 0-12 was bad, but that was just one awful season at the end of the tenure of a thoroughly abominable head coach. Twelve straight losses to the Ducks was a blight unlike anything I’ve ever experienced as a sports fan, and while I have enough perspective to know that’s not on par with actual real-life tragedies, I’m not nearly mature enough to have kept 12 straight losses from bothering me in incredibly profound ways.

We have emerged from the Dark Ages, and I for one am desperately afraid of going back. And if I’m being honest, that fear is gnawing at me just a bit as Washington heads down to Oregon for Saturday’s game. Two straight victories by an average of 42 points hasn’t quite erased the post-traumatic stress aroused by facing the Ducks, especially when Washington was coming off a victory as uninspiring as last week’s win at UCLA.

But I believe that Washington has restored the rightful order of the Northwest. We have emerged from the historical epoch when the Husky empire was overrun by the unwashed barbarians from the south, a state that does not trust its citizenry to pump its own gas.

Oregon is this conference’s new money. A team who had a cornerback who made a lucky guess back in 1994 and then had the good fortune of having a sugar daddy in the sneaker baron, Phil Knight.

There is only one consolation that any Washington fan can take from the central role that play occupies in Oregon’s program, and it’s that even after all of Oregon’s success over these past 25 years, their program’s proudest moment involves us.

The Ducks have played for the national championship twice. They’ve had a quarterback win the Heisman Trophy. They’ve gone to the Rose Bowl twice since the Huskies’ last trip, and still, they bask in that time they turned the tables on the big, bad Huskies.

I would say that Oregon is a Mickey Mouse program, but that’s not exactly true. It’s more of a Donald Duck operation.

Our mountain is taller than theirs. Our state is home to Microsoft, theirs houses Intel server farms. We have Amazon. They have the company that brought you the Leatherman tool. And while Oregonians love to boast about Nike being headquartered there, let’s be honest: We know who’s really making those shoes.

Unlike some Huskies, I don’t hate Oregon. Heck, I was born there, and it’s where my father is buried and I don’t want to get in to some debate about whose fans are actually worse because I know from first-hand experience that there’s more than enough idiots on both sides of the ledger. In fact, I say that knowing that I certainly qualify as one of those aforementioned idiots.

But I can say that there isn’t a game that I look forward to more than this one, and there isn’t a game whose result I fear as much. So let’s go Dawgs. Let’s not slide back toward the Dark Ages.

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