The Washington State Cougars are set to host their rivals, the Washington Huskies, in the 114th Apple Cup on Saturday night.
We all know what this week brings. It’s a jam-packed week full of Thanksgiving, family, and Washington State Cougars football. Not just any football game either, as it is of course, Apple Cup week here in the Pacific Northwest. The biggest game of the year for our beloved Cougar football team.
Last season was an absolute jubilation of a game. After losing seven consecutive games to the Huskies, the Washington State Cougars blew out UW 40-13 in Seattle. It was the largest margin of victory for a Cougar team in Apple Cup history. It was cathartic, and much needed to see the Cougs break the streak. But, it’s a new year with new teams. This team, and this fan base, should not and will not be satisfied with winning just one of these games, we need to start our own streak and keep that trophy in Pullman where it belongs.
To accomplish that goal, the Washington State Cougars team has a tall task in front of them. UW is never a push over no matter their record, but they seem to have bounced back from their rough season a year ago, a sign that this game will be much closer. The Huskies come into the Apple Cup sporting a 9-2 record, the top passing offense in the nation, and the 13th overall ranking in the latest College Football Playoff poll.
Needless to say, this game will not be an easy one to win. The Huskies still have a chance to make the Pac 12 championship game and they will be motivated to avenge last year’s embarrassment the Washington State Cougars laid on them. This adds even more fuel to an already raging rivalry fire.
The Cougars come into the game with a solid 7-4 record. They have won their last three games in a row, and have been in every single game they have played this season. Wazzu sports the conference’s top defense, one that just smothered the vaunted Arizona passing attack just a week ago. If there was ever a defense that can stop Michael Penix Jr and the UW passing offense, it’s this Cougar unit lead by Daiyan Henley.
It’s the biggest matchup of the game. If the Washington State Cougars can hold down the Husky passing game by making them run more often or forcing some turnovers, the odds of winning skyrocket. The forecast in Pullman calls for a frigid night with a slight possibility of snow. That kind of weather favors no team that loves to throw the ball as much as they Huskies do, but we have seen mother nature favor UW in Pullman before so that is no guarantee.
We know the Cougar defense against the Husky offense is going to be an absolute war. But, what about the other matchup?
The Washington State Cougars offense has been a rollercoaster ride this season. With flashes of brilliance shown in the Oregon and Stanford games to absolute no-shows like the games in Corvallis or against Utah. The biggest question leading up to this Apple Cup is a simple one.
Which Cougar offense is going to show up on Saturday night?
If we had the answer, we would tell you, fellow Cougar fans. But the truth is we won’t know until the game kicks off at 7:30 Saturday night. With how the Cougs have been gelling over the last three weeks, and with how Nakia Watson’s return to the run game has sparked the offense, one would hope the Cougs can find their footing against a less than stellar Husky defense.
Washington has talent on their defense, as they always have. But this iteration of the Huskies defense is not the same as in past years. They are prone to big plays, and some times have issues stopping the run. In their two losses, to UCLA and Arizona State, the Huskies gave up an average of 42.5 points and 450 yards of total offense. Thats not the end all, be all of this defense, but it showcases they can break and that’s notable going into this game.
It truly will be a game of inches. As cliche as that statement is, this Washington State Cougars team has what it takes to knock off the hated Huskies. This game will be close. This game will be physical. This game will be an emotional rollercoaster ride. This game will be awesome.
This game, is the Apple Cup. Get excited Cougar fans, it’s almost here!