Road to 1991 Perfection: Rongen Says 'The Ducks Were Kind of a Nobody'

The University of Washington football team treated Oregon like any other opponent on the way to the national championship.
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Kris Rongen doesn't have fond memories of the 1991 Washington-Oregon football game. 

The starting offensive guard played sick, staggered by a 102-degree temperature.

He had consecutive bad plays.

Rongen, god forbid, gave up his only sack of the season.

"Gilby was very happy to get me off the field," he said, referring to offensive coordinator Keith Gilbertson. "It wasn't a whole lot of fun for me."

For Husky players and fans, however, these were the good old days. Oregon was a border rival, but nothing more, an annual patsy.

The Ducks were no more despised than Oregon State.

Oregon was always beatable and went down 29-7 to the national championship-bound Huskies in their game in Seattle in week 7.

Outside of the Apple Cup, USC was the most hated opponent for the UW, not Oregon.

It was all based on success — the Huskies couldn't beat the Trojans very often. The Ducks have that sort of stronghold over the UW now.

The 1991 Oregon team was a different story. The Ducks lost 14 of the previous 17 meetings with Washington coming into the game. They were 31-point underdogs.

Leave it to Rongen, a state probation office from Olympia, Washington, to properly sum up this rival back then: "The Ducks were kind of a nobody at that point."

This is another in series of vignettes about the UW 1991 national championship football team, filling in the conversation before the pandemic-delayed season begins next month. This is week 7 of a perfect run.

While the Oregon game still was one-sided, the 1991 Huskies turned to their defense and kicking game to put this one away, forced to be resourceful rather than merciless.

Chico Fraley and Tommie Smith blocked punts. Walter Bailey, Shane Pahukoa and Louis Jones intercepted passes. Dana Hall recovered a fumble. The defense held the Ducks to 129 yards of total offense. Travis Hanson kicked field goals from 44, 28 and 33 yards. 

The Huskies did what they were supposed to do that day. Beat the Ducks. Move on.

In clear role reversal today, Oregon has captured 14 of the previous 16 games entering this season's December match-up. 

It's irritating to everyone connected to the program, among them Rongen.

"I hate the Ducks for now, for sure," he said. "It's embarrassing we haven't owned them."

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