The Cougars are favored, by 2.5 points, going into the Apple Cup for the first time since 2006. Is No. 7 Washington State primed to get its first win over the Huskies in four years?
Courtesy of the National Weather Service, here is the latest forecast for Friday night in Pullman:
Rain and snow, becoming all snow after midnight. Low around 30. Breezy, with a west wind 17 to 21 mph, with gusts as high as 33 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.
As if the tensions and the implications and the anticipation weren’t enough, the elements could add another layer of drama to the 111th Apple Cup between the No. 7 Cougars and No. 16 Huskies. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Friday for a FOX national broadcast.
#16 HUSKIES vs. #7 COUGARS
Friday, Nov. 23 | 5:30 p.m. | Martin Stadium
📺: FOX | 📻: 710 AM / 1000 AM
This ought to be fun.
“Last game of the year, playing for a Pac-12 North (title) to get to the championship — that’s the Apple Cup,” UW co-defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski said.
Indeed, for the third year in a row the Apple Cup has major stakes for both programs — with a division title and a spot in next week’s Pac-12 championship game on the line. For the Cougars (10-1, 7-1 Pac-12), there’s still hope of a College Football Playoff berth, just as it was for the Huskies two years ago in Pullman.
This is the third time year in a row — and just the eighth time ever — in which both teams have been ranked in The Associated Press Top 25 for the matchup.
The Cougars are favored, by 2.5 points, going into the Apple Cup for the first time since 2006. The Huskies have won the last six Apple Cups against a ranked WSU team (2001, 2002, 2003, 2015, 2016, 2017).
A victory over Washington could be the signature statement the Cougars need to truly vault them in the playoff discussion.
“It’s huge,” WSU quarterback Gardner Minshew said. “Take the rivalry out of it. We’re playing for the Pac-12 North, playing to keep our playoff hopes alive. So it’s huge for our team. At the beginning of the year, we set out saying we wanted to win the Pac-12 and this is just another step in that journey.”
For the Huskies (8-3, 6-2), the season hasn’t quite played out as many had hoped in August, when UW was a top-10 team and expected to be the Pac-12’s best shot at contending for a playoff spot.
But playing for a Pac-12 title and a potential Rose Bowl berth? Those are no small consolation prizes for the Huskies and a senior class that is looking to remain undefeated against the Cougars.
“We don’t need any extra motivation to play those guys in general, especially if it’s for the Pac-12 championship,” senior cornerback Jordan Miller said.
Minshew, a Mississippi native who spent the past two years playing at East Carolina, didn’t know anything about the Apple Cup before arriving on the Palouse this summer.
“Coming up here, you learn fast about how much people care about it and how much it means to everybody,” he said this week. “There’s definitely some bitter feelings there. This is one that means a lot to people. Even coming into the year, this is one everybody had circled: ‘We want to do all these great things, but we want to beat Washington.’ And that’s something that’s stuck (with) me and something that means a lot to these guys.”
Minshew leads the nation in passing and has vaulted into the Heisman Trophy race. He leads the Pac-12’s No. 1 scoring offense against UW’s No. 1 scoring defense. The Huskies again have one of the top passing defenses in the country, having allowed just nine touchdown passes in 11 games and just 5.9 yards per pass attempt.
“They’ve had a lot of success against us these last few years, but one of the biggest things we’re saying is it’s not the past few years,” Minshew said. “Each year is a new year, each game is a new game. We’re a new team. So we’re looking forward to the challenge of playing them. …
“I think we’re playing with kind of a different spirit than a lot of the teams in the country right now. We take a lot of pride in how we’re playing.”