The last time the state of Washington went a year without an Apple Cup, the Nazis were in retreat along the Western Front.

To make up for the hiatus, the Huskies and Cougars returned to competition the next year, in the fall of 1945, and played twice. UW won the first game, in Seattle, 6-0, while WSU took the rematch in Pullman, 7-0.

Now, COVID-19 is raging, the Cougars are depleted, and the rivalry’s 113th edition is in doubt.

It wasn’t played as scheduled on Friday, and no makeup date has been set.

But unusual circumstances — whether it’s a World War or a global pandemic — require creative solutions, especially for something as sacred as the Apple Cup is to the Evergreen State.

They need to play, no matter what it takes or when it happens.


It might work within the framework of the Pac-12’s seven-game schedule, assuming the Cougars get their players out of quarantine and both teams are healthy the rest of the way.

Maybe they end up with vacancies on the weekends of Dec. 5 or 12.

Maybe Washington doesn’t play for the conference championship on Friday, Dec. 18, and both teams are available the following day.

The Pac-12 hasn’t decided whether the 19th will be used for intra-division makeup games or North vs. South matchups based on the standings (i.e., No. 2 vs. No. 2, No. 3 vs. No. 3).

But if none of that works — if the Huskies and Cougars are unable to tangle on any of those final weekends of the regular season — here’s what they should do:

You play the game in Pullman after the regular season.

Maybe it’s the following weekend, on Dec. 26-27. Maybe it’s in early January. Maybe it’s on a Wednesday.


The specifics would depend on the bowl schedule, which itself is in flux, and whether the teams are even interested in traveling thousands of miles for a non-conference game in an empty stadium.

The Pac-12 has already lost two partner bowls for this year (the Holiday and Redbox), and two more are seemingly in doubt (the Los Angeles and Las Vegas).

But if there’s a window available after the seven-week regular season, the teams should use it.

Sure, it would be unusual, perhaps even unprecedented. Other than Army-Navy, we are unaware of any non-bowl game being played following the conference championships.

But in 2020, there are no rules.

In fact, the schools should change the name to the Apple Bowl — just for this year, of course — and play it for a cause.

For COVID-19 relief in the state, perhaps.

They couldn’t raise money in the stadium, of course. But they could ask fans and corporate partners to donate.


We’re quite confident the Pac-12 would sign off on the idea. The goal, after all, is to play as many games as possible while keeping the players safe.

In fact, there would be financial benefits. Each conference game carries a $5 million paycheck (approximately) from ESPN or Fox.

Split that 12 ways, and the Apple Bowl would generate $417,000 for each member. The conference should do whatever it can to help arrange the game.

Of this, we are certain:

The athletic directors, UW’s Jen Cohen and WSU’s Pat Chun, have an excellent working relationship and understand the importance of the game.

There could be limitations, especially if the Huskies win the conference and are bound for a New Year’s Six game.

Admittedly, playing the Apple Bowl in the middle of January is probably too late.

But there are plenty of dates potentially available, especially if the schools are willing to step outside the box.

If there’s a way, they need to play.