For a few fleeting moments, it looked like this might be the year the Cougars finally snap their Apple Cup losing streak. But the Washington Huskies snuffed out those hopes at every turn, eventually running away with their seventh straight win over cross-state rival Washington State.
Here are three impressions from the Huskies’ 31-13 win over WSU on Friday at Husky Stadium.
Husky pass rushers makes the scheme work — again
Washington has had great success over the years against the Washington State Air Raid offense by mainly rushing three players and dropping eight into coverage. It works really well when the three rushers can beat double teams and still get pressure on the QB.
On WSU’s first drive of the game, quarterback Anthony Gordon had all the time he needed to throw, and eventually found open receivers. But as the game wore on, the Huskies not only got pressure on him, they sacked him several times.
Two turnovers in the fourth quarter certainly hurt WSU — a fumble by running back Deon McIntosh and a bad interception by Gordon — but the game had turned long before then.
As long as WSU’s five linemen have a hard containing three (and sometimes four) Husky rushers, the results will not change for the Cougar offense. And until that changes, it will be very hard for the Cougars to end the losing streak against UW, which at seven is one short of the Huskies’ longest winning streak in the series.
Huskies excel vs. Cougar secondary
It has been a tough season for the WSU defensive backfield, from poor performances to the dismissal of three players in November. The Husky passing game, which has been inconsistent all season, took full advantage.
On the Huskies’ second scoring drive, UW quarterback Jacob Eason badly overthrew wide open tight end Hunter Bryant on what likely would have been an easy touchdown. But it didn’t matter as the Huskies overcame that to score on a 16-yard pass from Eason to Terrell Bynum.
It didn’t stop there, as the Huskies continued to have success throwing, often getting big chunks of yardage or drawing Cougar penalties.
‘A’ for effort
The Huskies, coming off a poor performance in a loss to Colorado, allowed a touchdown on the opening drive of the game, then had a three-and-out on its first offensive series. It had to make UW fans wonder how interested the Huskies were.
The Huskies, of course, turned up the intensity.
And the Cougar loss was certainly from no lack of effort.
Both teams have a lot to still play for. The Huskies, with a win in a bowl game, would finish with a respectable season.
The Cougars can have a fifth straight winning season with a bowl win, which considering what has happened this season, would be an accomplishment.
WSU lost its best player in the secondary before the start of the season when safety Jalen Thompson was ruled ineligible, defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys resigned in midseason, then came the dismissal of three more DBs.
Of course, none of that will make Cougar fans feel any better after Friday’s loss, but if this is the new definition of a down WSU season, then things aren’t that bad.