WSU Vs Idaho Beyond The Game: The Battle Of The Palouse

2 of 2

Sep 7, 2013; Laramie, WY, USA; Idaho Vandals quarterback Chad Chalich (11) rolls out to throw against the Wyoming Cowboys during the fourth quarter at War Memorial Stadium. The Cowboys defeated the Vandals 42-10. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Being just eight miles away it’s hard for the players not to be excited about it. The players see each other quite often and they all know who each other are. Earlier in the year a few Washington State and Idaho football players were involved in a fight at a party which put Washington State WR Mansel Simmons in the hospital and ultimately ended his career due to a head injury. This fight according to the Vandals’ Marboe is “water under the bridge” and is something that is in the past.

Fryhover on the other hand, when asked if there was this kind of stuff going on while on the field back in the 80’s, said that this type of behavior was normal between the two schools. The thing about fighting back then and even now is that it is less about being a rivalry and more about too many football players and too much testosterone in a small area. When Grayson was asked the same question talked about how there were no real run-ins with the other Vandal players off the field.

Something that completely surprised me was that the players, both previous and current, said they don’t prepare for this game any differently. Marboe, Williams, Grayson, and Fryhover all talked about how this is just another game and that they must prepare for this game like any other game. Fryhover said “there really wasn’t so much a ‘need to win’ (for the rivalry), but more of a ‘need to be a winner’ ” (as the next game on the schedule) when asked if there was more urgency for this game than another on the schedule.

This game is a  new thing for many of the players and coaches on either team. Coaches Mike Leach (Washington State), Paul Petrino (Idaho) and their staffs are brand new to this rivalry. Many players, including Williams don’t view this as a rivalry (not being from Washington or Idaho), this is not something that they grew up seeing.

New coaches seem to be a theme within this game. With the exception of Leach, who is now in his second year, all other coaches for the players I interviewed: Price, Erikson, and Petrino were/are all in their first year in the game (when they took over).

Coaches Erikson and Price were both originally from Washington and knew about the rivalry and the things that came with this game. “Being a Northwest guy, he was aware of the importance of WSU beating Idaho,” when Grayson was asked if the new coach had any effect on how they prepared for the game. “Coach’s motivate and teach,” says Grayson, ” I am sure (Mike Leach) is using every angle he can to ensure the guys don’t take Idaho lightly and play as hard as they can every snap.

One thing you can expect at this game is a lot of fans of both teams. With WSU coming off two big wins against USC and SUU, the fans of the Cougars are very excited with the direction that the football program is going. Vandal fans have a lot to be excited about as well. The Vandals have lost their first three of the season and are looking for their first win but showed great improvement last weekend when the Vandals faced the Northern Illinois Huskies where they lost by 10. The  Huskies finished last season 12-2 after losing in the BCS Discover Orange Bowl to Florida State.

This “rivalry” could be considered less than a rivalry in today’s day and age. It is a sad thing to see rivalries become either no more due to one team deciding they no longer want to play or because one team is winning all the games. Unfortunately the latter is happening with the Battle of the Palouse. As a fan of Washington State I would love to see this rivalry come alive again and become a big game for both the fans and players of the schools. It gives the winning school a sense of pride to say they go to the other school. The game could also be a big boost towards that teams confidence, we all remember the 2012 Apple Cup where Washington State came back and beat UW. That game alone gave so many fans an extra interest going into the off-season and was the start to something big. This game could possibly have that same kind of effect down the road for either team.

Marboe, Fryhover, and Grayson all talked about how this game will always take the best of both teams to get the victory. No matter who is favored to win this game it will require the best team to show up on Saturday. Grayson and Fryhover were playing in the last scheduled game between the two schools and at this point the same goes for Williams and Marboe going forward. According to Grayson,

"We did feel extra pressure to win, not only because of the proximity of the schools, the rivalry, and knowing we didn’t want the school to not be able to get redemption until the game was scheduled to be played again,  but also because we felt we should win, on paper at least.”"

Washington State’s defense has been tormenting new quarterbacks all season. Auburn’s Nick Marshall, USC’s Max Wittek and Cody Kessler, and Southern Utah’s Aaron Cantu have all struggled to have a big game against the Cougars. Idaho has a new QB this year in Chad Chalich, Chalich is a redshirt freshman and is looking to help the Vandals turn their program around. It will be another test to see if the Cougars can keep their defensive rankings the same. The Cougars defense is ranked 11th in the nation, 23rd in scoring defense, 10th in third down defense, and 1st in pass defense. Chalich will have his hands full, especially with the home crowd.

After 7 years of the two teams not playing each other it will come down to who can win at Martin Stadium in the last game for possibly a very long time. The game is scheduled for 7:30 PM this Saturday on PAC-12 Networks.