Washington State enters the Apple Cup with its fewest wins since 2014, but the Cougars can still make it a season to remember for WSU fans.
Beat Washington, something that WSU quarterbacks Gardner Minshew and Luke Falk could not do despite all their success, and it will go down as a good season on the Palouse no matter what happens in the bowl game.
The Huskies look more vulnerable than they have in years, and that alone should boost Washington State’s hopes.
What it means for Washington State
If the Cougars can win, it will end years of frustration for WSU fans, who have not only seen their team lose six straight times to the Huskies, but lose by at least 10 points in each of those games. A win could finally end the question that WSU coach Mike Leach is undoubtedly getting tired of hearing: Why does his Air Raid offense struggle so much against the Huskies? A victory would also assure the Cougars their fifth consecutive winning season, already the team’s longest streak since the 1930s, and it would send WSU into a bowl game with a ton of momentum. And when it comes to recruiting in-state players, finally getting a victory over the Huskies would certainly be a benefit.
Why people should care
Because it’s a fascinating matchup. Once again, we’ve got a high-powered WSU offense heading into the game: Can it finally succeed against the Huskies? It will be the final regular-season game for Washington State quarterback Anthony Gordon, and it could be for UW quarterback Jacob Eason. It might not be for the Pac-12 North title like it was last year, but it should certainly be entertaining.
Matchup to watch
UW rushing attack vs. the WSU front seven: The Huskies have controlled recent Apple Cups at the line of scrimmage, and have run the ball effectively and often against the Cougars. If Husky running back Salvon Ahmed and company can find room against the WSU defense, it could be another long game for WSU.
Most important player
WSU quarterback Anthony Gordon: The Cougars can count on Gordon to put up a lot of yards, but can they count on him to avoid mistakes? Gordon has thrown 14 interceptions (at least a couple were 100 percent the fault of his receivers), and he can’t afford to throw picks against the Huskies.
The Cougars will win if …
They can keep the Huskies from rushing for more than 150 yards and not lose the turnover battle.