Forget overall records and previously played football games, anything can happen in the Apple Cup. As we saw today, the Cougars were seen as major underdogs coming into the game against the No. 25 Washington Huskies. And I was there to watch it all happen. Given the success of UW’s football season so far, it gave UW fans a lot of confidence that they were going to roll over the Cougars and win a 4th straight Apple Cup.
There were also Cougar fans who saw this game as a potential blow out and an embarrassment for the football program. I include myself in this category for not thinking the Cougars had any shot in this game because of how terrible the team had being playing coming into this game. Of course there were the die-hard Cougar fans that hadn’t given up on this season and believed a miracle would indeed happen in Pullman on Black Friday, which did in fact occur!
This Cougars football team did not look like a 2-9 football team, and a team that had been humiliated a week ago in Tempe, Arizona; losing by more than 30 points to Arizona State. The defense looked more aggressive and the Cougars started running the ball more often which gave the UW defense problems. Mike Leach and his staff got his team prepared and ready for this nationally televised game! In the first half when the Cougars played great football and took a 10-7 lead into the half, it left many Husky fans stunned and gave Cougar fans something to brag about for a while. I happened to be watching this game with some friends who were Husky fans. The overall reaction at halftime was a little bit of worry for the Husky fans. Seeing the Cougars past performances, UW fans still believed that the Cougars would end up “Coug’in” it. I was very impressed with the way the Cougars we’re playing in the first half, but wasn’t confident they could keep this up for another 24 minutes.
Second Half, specifically the third quarter when UW found it stride and scored 21 unanswered points to make it a 28-10 game, UW fans were back on their feet, bragging, cheering and knew that this game was over. Cougar fans including myself saw this as a “deja-vu” type performance and felt the game was over and the Cougars had indeed once again “Coug’d it”. However this WSU football team didn’t quit on Mike Leach and continued to perform. Even with the multiple turnovers and poor performance on offense, this team still believed.
The main turning point in the game that gave Cougar fans life was the fumble recovery by the Cougars in UW territory when they were only down by 11 points. The biggest play of the game was when Jeff Tuel was able to avoid the UW pass rush, extend the play and delivered a nice pass for a first down. Also adding another 15 yards onto the play for roughing the passer by UW. The large amount of penalties really hurt UW in this game, and of course UW fans would complain about the officials when in reality many of those calls were correct.
Life was booming back in Martin Stadium when the Cougars completed a touchdown and two point conversion to make it a three point game. Like every other Cougar fan, I was jumping up and down and knew we had a shot! Still the possibility of “Cougin’ it” was very high and that’s what many UW fans believed would occur. Except the defense continued to step up and Andrew Furney was able to hit the game tying field goal. With 2 minutes left in the game and UW continuing to drive down the field, once in field goal range many people thought that the game was over.
After UW’s kicker missed the field goal and the Cougars gained momentum, Husky fans knew that there was a chance of loosing to the 2-9 Washington State Cougars. Once overtime hit and the Cougars we’re able to intercept Keith Price’s pass, many UW fans knew the game was over. Cougar fans finally had something to brag about this season and we witnessed how much of a genius Mike Leach is.
Recruiting wise this was a very big statement for the Washington State Cougars, as they defeat not only there bitter rival, and a top 25 team, but they did it on national television. High School players from all over the country were able to see this game and where the WSU football program is heading. Plus recruits visiting WSU this weekend witnessed the biggest comeback in Apple Cup history, and the atmosphere during the game. Seeing the fans storm the field is what college football’s all about! Seeing the excitement that is happening with this football program and it was a bit of a preview for what is in store for next season and for many years to come!
Here’s the link to the game winning kick by WSU kicker Andrew Furney:
–Evan Baron (Follow Me On Twitter @BaselineBaron09)
(Title Credit: Lauren Merdinyan)