Apple Cup week.
Typically known, at least on average, two out of every three years, as UW beating WSU week. If you’re a Cougar fan and don’t like that fact, I’m sorry. But 74-33-6 in 113 years isn’t my opinion, it’s a fact. Inarguable. UW has dominated this rivalry so badly that if you’re 50 years old, or about to be 50 like me, you would be 91 years old if WSU happened to win every game starting this year to even the series! So forget it, lets shelve that fantasy and talk about this year.
First off, UW is 9-2, which is bad for WSU. Why? Because the last time WSU beat a 9+ win UW team was 25 years ago in 1997. And that team had the #2 pick in the NFL draft in Ryan Leaf. Cam Ward is good, but he ain’t that good! That WSU team was also finished 10-2, almost beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl and won the Pac 10 Championship. When WSU wins the Apple Cup, its typically because UW is awful. The Cougs got the W last year against a 4-8 team that had just fired their Head Coach and started a freshman at QB. Then? Then they acted like they won the Super Bowl with a big ‘ole flag planting party at the 50! After beating a 4-7 team! I mean, can you have lower standards?
Look, I get it, beating UW is a BIG DEAL for WSU. And I don’t blame them. When something only happens 7 times in 25 years, I would lose my mind too. But in order to do it this year, WSU is going to have to show they can slow down the best version of a Husky Offense since at least 2016. Mike Penix leads the nation in passing, and UW has two legit first team WR’s in Jalen McMillan and Rome Odunze. This UW offense is averaging almost 40 ppg and has been excellent at protecting the QB. On the flip side, UW is 30th in the NCAA in sacks on defense while WSU is tied for 112th in sacks allowed. Bralen Trice, Jeremiah Martin and the rest of that UW defense should be licking their chops to get a few licks in themselves on Cam Ward. To me, that’s where this thing starts for UW: Make WSU one dimensional on offense. Put them in 2nd and 3rd and long and give them no choice but to throw it.
WSU has never won three straight games in this series, and you have to think if it’s EVER going to happen, they’ll need to get this one and then pray that Penix goes to the NFL next year, which he likely will. The concern I do have for this game from a UW perspective is that WSU doesn’t appear to be as soft as they have been in years past. They’re tough. They play good defense. They run the ball, and more importantly, they WANT to run the ball. Oregon State gave UW a nice test on defense and the Huskies eventually passed it. I’m thinking the same thing happens Saturday: UW grinds one out, and wins a 28-24 game. And again, as in years past, the Apple Cup Trophy goes back to Seattle. Happy Thanksgiving!