Wait now is to find out what bowl game is next
PULLMAN — It’s hard to imagine many other contests in the 105-game history of the Apple Cup that featured as wildly contrasting mood swings as did the 31-28 overtime victory Friday for Washington State.
The Huskies seemed firmly in control when they entered the fourth quarter with a 28-10 lead. The Cougars appeared equally dead in the water.
Then the tide turned quickly as WSU rallied to tie the game.
Still, despite blowing an 18-point lead, the Huskies appeared on the verge of surviving when Travis Coons lined up for a 35-yard field goal on the last play of regulation.
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“From my point of view on the sidelines, I thought it was good,” said UW receiver Kasen Williams. “I was jumping up and down and freaking out.”
The celebrating on the UW sideline didn’t last long, though, as the kick sailed wide right.
And the Cougars then made quick work of overtime with an interception on UW’s first play followed by their own field goal of 27 yards from Andrew Furney to win the game and pull off the biggest comeback in Apple Cup history.
“You have the lead like we had in the fourth quarter, it’s pretty frustrating to have that happen,” said UW tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
The Huskies usually try to abide by coach Steve Sarkisian’s “24-hour rule” to either celebrate victories or mourn defeats and then move on. But most afterward said this loss might take a little longer to process.
“This one’s going to sting,” Sarkisian said.
The good news, then, is that the Huskies have a while now before returning to the field.
The defeat dropped Washington to 7-5 and made its bowl situation a little more uncertain.
Heading into the game, the conventional wisdom was that UW was likely headed to either the Las Vegas or Kraft Fight Hunger bowls.
That could still be the case, as Arizona State’s victory over Arizona on Friday night further muddied the waters — ASU, Arizona and UW are all 7-5 and the bowls at the bottom of the Pac-12’s bowl lineup could be choosing from those three.
The Pac-12 has seven guaranteed bowl contracts and eight eligible teams. But victories by Stanford and Oregon on Saturday pretty much assure the Pac-12 will get two BCS bowl slots, so all eligible teams should have a spot in one of the bowls with which the conference has a contract.
The Las Vegas Bowl, played Dec. 22, has the Pac-12’s fifth choice against the No. 1 from the Mountain West, likely Boise State (9-2).
The Kraft Fight Hunger, played Dec. 29 in San Francisco, gets the sixth selection and has already invited Navy (7-4) as the other team.
Getting the seventh choice of Pac-12 teams is the New Mexico Bowl, played Dec. 15 in Albuquerque against a Mountain West team.
Washington might have to wait until next Sunday, after conference title games are played and the BCS bowls are set, to find out their future.
That there’s another game to play was the most comforting thought for the Huskies after the Apple Cup.
And while the defeat against WSU might dim some of the excitement of a bowl game for the Huskies, UW players say it might harden their resolve to finish the year on a better note.
“In my view, you are just playing with a chip on your shoulder now,” Williams said. “We have to wait a whole three weeks, a month, however long it is, to get this taste out of our mouths now.”
Now, UW needs to win the bowl game or else it will finish with a third consecutive seven-win season.
Washington also finished 5-4 in Pac-12 play for the third consecutive year and will end up fourth in the Pac-12 North.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org