To Hate or Not To Hate

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,

…the spurns [t]hat patient merit of the unworthy takes…

To hate or not to hate, that is the question.

Sports, as we all know, is an exercise in emotions; incredibly strong emotions. Usually, it can be boiled down to two such emotions, always diametrically opposed to the other: Love and Hate. When fans love something about a sport, be it a player, a team, or a tradition, they really fucking love it. They’re fanatical, if you will. The stans come out, the capers don their capes, the takers microwave their takes. You, independent sports observer, will come to know the depths and breadths of that individuals’ love for whatever the fuck the infield fly rule is, anyway.

And of course, when they hate something else, they really fucking hate it. It’s a committed, long-lasting, never-ceasing, ever-latent visceral hate. It’s a hate that changes how your brain operates. Your mouth becomes smaller and your eyebrows do gymnastics. You, independent sports observer, will cower at the heat and force of their hate for Cam Newton’s on-field disposition, and you will know GOD.

I have some sports-hate that I hold in my heart. The Patriots, the Thunder, the goddamn A’s, and the haphazard Angels all make the cut. I used to hate the Steelers but we won a Super Bowl and they lost a Super Bowl and now Big Ben is Bad Ben so that’s fine. I used to hate the Spurs because they were so damn good and it is a crime against art and beauty that Danny Fortson didn’t get to play in a Western Conference Final… but after the Sonics left I begrudgingly began to appreciate how good that franchise was at its peak and the masterful skill of Our President, Greggory Popovich.

I guess I’m supposed to hate the Cougars, but they’re fun and lovable and their quarterback has a name like he declined his Hogwarts letter because Leach offered him a starting Seeker role. I suppose I’ll always look back with derision at the Crapple Cup, the 100th Cup we somehow lost even though we took the opening kickoff to the house, and the Keith Price/Nick Holt Meltdown game. But with five straight wins and four straight blowouts, I don’t really hold much animosity toward them. Go Cuogs.

Oh…..but Oregon.

Man, screw Oregon.

That’s right, the school whose logo matches the number of national championships they’ve won, Oregon. The school with an athletic department bankrolled by an athletic apparel company (related: Oregon probably would still have been Good At Football even if Kenny Wheaton doesn’t pick off that pass). The school that put Joey fucking Harrington on the side of a building in New York but also the school that was smart enough to actually recruit Marcus Mariota (thanks, Sark). The school that beat us (or, more accurately, dominated us) for 13 straight years. The school that, if they went on another 13-year winning streak still wouldn’t take the overall series lead.

Man, I hate the Oregon Ducks football program. I’m sure the university is a fine institution of higher education and Eugene is actually a cool, albeit small city.

The hate is mutual, to be sure. Storytime: When in college, I had a UW decal on the back of my car window. I was in Eugene in April about 8 years back, in the middle of Oregon’s football supremacy, visiting some friends. It was a beautiful day and I had my windows down. I was taking a detour through campus and was stopped at a light.

BIIITCH!

I whipped my head to the right. In the car next to me was a young man staring at me, with nothing but hate in eyes. He rolled up his window and turned right. I was bewildered at first. But then I realized where I was: I was in enemy territory.

There’s no need for a rivalry name, a corporate sponsor, or a stupid trophy (looking at you, B1G). This is pure, chaste absolute fucking villainy right here.

The Oregon Ducks and the Washington Huskies play each other in a game of contact football this weekend. Both teams are ranked, which is fun. Currently, the Huskies are the best hope for a Pac-12 playoff representative (sorry, crappy Oregon non-conference schedule).

In an attempt to actually create a piece of legitimate analysis, I’ve poured over the S&P+ profiles of Oregon and Washington and laid out the edges in each of the many and varied categories. If you don’t know about S&P+, it’s of Bill Connelly’s creation and it’s a fantastic statistical resource readily available for college football fans. The source documentation is here. Be prepared to find yourself killing a ton of hours looking at the profiles and box scores.

By the way, when you see Off, that is designated for when Oregon is on offense and the Huskies are on defense and vice versa for Def (Oregon on defense, Huskies on offense).

Stat Oregon Washington Edge
Off Success % 21st 31st Slight Oregon
Off Margin Eff 19th 20th Even
Off Explosiveness 35th 4th Solid Washington
Off Margin Explo 24th 6th Slight Washington
Avg. Field Pos For 13th 68th Solid Oregon
Avg. Field Pos Vs. 64th 69th Even
Pts/Scoring Opp 32nd 10th Slight Washington
Expected TO Marg 41st 16th Solid Washington
Def Success % 49th 33rd Slight Washington
Def Marg Eff 56th 38th Slight Washington
Def Explosive Allow 88th 82nd Even
Def Margin Explos 89th 74th Slight Washington
Off Rush Efficiency 39th 48th Even
Off Rush Explos 66th 35th Solid Washington
Off Stuffed Rate 21st 116th Heavy Oregon
Def Rush Eff 55th 53rd Even
Def Rush Explos 40th 109th Heavy Oregon
Def Stuffed Rate 30th 44th Slight Oregon
Off Passing Eff 9th 17th Even
Off Passing Explos 15th 1st Slight Washington
Off Sack Rate 38th 116th Heavy Oregon
Def Pass Eff 62nd 29th Solid Washington
Def Pass Explos 106th 29th Heavy Washington
Def Sack Rate 17th 56th Solid Oregon
FG Value 125th 103rd LOL
Oregon Kickoffs 73rd 27th Solid Washington
Oregon Punts 33rd 86th Solid Oregon
Washington Kickoffs 16th 79th Heavy Oregon
Washington Punts 6th 103rd Heavy Oregon

A couple of key takeaways from this comparison: the Washington offense has the advantage over the Oregon defense, especially in the explosive passing game. This could be a big game for Aaron Fuller. Washington’s defense should be able to stop explosive plays, but will allow successful plays and not threaten Herbert in the pocket much. However, if the Huskies defense can create negative plays for Oregon both running and passing, it’s going to be a long day for the Autzen faithful.

The Huskies might not be that successful running the ball, especially if Gaskin is still banged up. A huge factor in this game will be field position and the (extremely Dick Baird voice) kicking game in particular. Oregon has an elite return squad and Washington has struggled a lot covering kicks and punts. Because the Washington defense is predicated on betting you can’t make 75+ yard drives consistently all game, keeping Oregon from having short fields will be crucial.

The Huskies should be able to limit turnovers if Jake Browning (LEAVE HIM ALONE) doesn’t do anything crazy. If this game comes down to kickers, all bets are off and #Pac12JustBeforeDark will be in play.

The Huskies should be favored to win this game, since their offense is just about as good and their defense is superior, but Oregon does have a legitimate path to winning this game.

When the lights come on and the ball is kicked off, nothing will be present except pure, unbridled hate.

I love it.