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Oregon Comes Up Roses

University of Oregon Outlasts Wisconsin for Rose Bowl Title
2020-04-09 18:52:12 by Chief Editor
Summary:Oregon has figured out the formula for winning Rose Bowls
By Herman L. Brame

The quick surging Duck football team outlasted a physical Wisconsin team to win the 2012 Rose Bowl 45 to 38, and end decades of frustation for Oregon college football fans. Even a casual look at the Duck roster reveals that players from California and Texas hold the keys to success for Oregon college football. Since 1902, America has celebrated the New Year with the Rose Bowl game played in Pasadena as part of the Tournament of Roses celebrations.

This oldest college bowl game, the "granddady of them all", was first won by an Oregon college in 1917 when the Ducks defeated a heavily favored Pennsylvania team 14 to 0. Oregon State University won their first Rose Bowl in 1942 with a 20 to 16 victory over Duke. Like the Ducks the first Beaver Rose Bowl victory came during a world war. Because of a fear of bombing on the west coast the 1942 game was moved from Pasadena for the first and only time and played at Wallace Wade Stadium, Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

The Oregon schools have appeared in the Rose Bowl a combined nine times with just three wins against six losses. Neither school has been a Rose Bowl powerhouse with the Ducks going two wins and four losses and the Beavers earning one win against two losses.

The lack of success by Oregon schools can be traced to several factors. Oregon's small population base translates into a relatively small high school talent pool when compared to more highly populated areas such as the midwest, east, south and California. Until the emergence of NIKE support Oregon never could really compete financially with the major population centers in terms of facilities and program budgets.

When the Beavers began playing football in 1893, and the Ducks in 1894 the teams where overwhelmingly composed of local players. This in and of itself provided a built in disadvantage for building rosters of players capable of competing at the national level. Early in Oregon's college football history this disadvantage was not as great as it would become in later years.

Oregon's All-American C.A. Shy Huntington led the Ducks to their first Rose Bowl victory and he was a former Oregon high school player. Huntington's outstanding performance on the national stage consisted of three interceptions, a touchdown pass and he rushed for an extra point conversion. Many thought that the Oregon victory over Pennsylvania had demonstrated that college football in the west had caught up with the powerful east coast programs. This was not the case. The hopeful Duck victory was followed by a succession of Duck losses. In 1920, they lost to Harvard 7 to 6, 1958 a 10 to 7 lost to Ohio State, 1995 a 38 to 20 loss to Penn State and in 2010 a 26 to 17 loss to Ohio State.

Oregon State University has historically been less successful than Oregon in the Rose Bowl with just three appearances. Until the 1940s the Beaver rosters relied heavily on former Oregon high school players with a sprinkling of players from California and the west. The victorious 1942 team featured Gene Gray, a back from Portland, who caught a 68-yard touchdown pass from Hood River halfback Bob Dethman. The Beavers appeared in the 1952 Rose Bowl and lost to Iowa 35 to 19 with a team that showed a significant increase in the number of California players. The 1965 Rose Bowl saw the Beavers lose to Michigan 34 to 7 with a team that featured a large number of players from the Los Angeles area. The Beavers made significant strides in closing the national talent gap.

Future Rose Bowl success for the Oregon schools is directly dependent upon recruiting top players from California and Texas without overlooking Oregon's small contingent of highly skilled high school players. Recruiting and progam outlook must be national and focused on the huge talent pool to the south in California and Texas. A limited regional vision and outlook will result in Rose Bowl frustration. Are we looking at the emergence of the University of California at Eugene and the University of California at Corvallis? It seems we are.
 

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