Washington vs. Washington State: Top Storylines for Big Pac-12 Rivalry Game

Shawn BrubakerContributor IINovember 23, 2012

SEATTLE - NOVEMBER 28: Chris Polk #1 of the Washington Huskies carries the ball during the Apple Cup game against the Washington State Cougars on November 28, 2009 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. The Huskies defeated the Cougars 30-0. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

This bitter rivalry always produces a good time, but this year's game between Washington and Washington State promises to be entertaining on a different level. Marquess Wilson is the main story for Washington State, but there are plenty of juicy storylines to follow in this game.

 

Steve Sarkisian Seeking Eight Wins

Steve Sarkisian has been an unqualified success for the Washington Huskies, turning them from a winless team to a contender. He has yet to gain eight wins, though, and this game offers him a very real chance to do just that.

Few would have expected this to be Sarkisian's best season for the Huskies after their 3-4 start. After rattling off four wins in a row, though, including a huge upset of then-No. 7 Oregon State, the Huskies are once again ranked and looking towards the postseason.

Sarkisian is only getting better as a head coach, and the Huskies keep getting better as a result. That is one of the most positive stories to come out of this rivalry in a long time.

 

Will Fans Be at the Game?

 For the first time in a long time, there was hope surrounding the Washington State program heading into the season. Now, all hope is lost, and that could result in a sparsely populated game.

As the Washington Post reports, the game is taking place at Washington State despite the school's Thanksgiving break. This, paired with a losing, dysfunctional team, could result in a nearly empty stadium.

Watching a big rivalry game take place in an empty stadium would be an eerie feeling and is worth paying attention to in this game.

 

Can Keith Price Maintain His Hot Streak?

Washington quarterback Keith Price has not maintained his stellar 2011 form, but he remains a solid quarterback. He has begun to find that form again, with 525 yards and seven touchdowns in the past two weeks. 

Price has a lot of talent, as he showcased in last year's bowl performance against Baylor. Price might not throw for 438 yard and four touchdowns like he did against Baylor, but he should find success against a mediocre Cougars defense.

 

Will the Dysfunction Surrounding Washington State Affect Its Play?

When talented receiver Marquess Wilson quit for the Cougars, chaos ensued. Mike Leach's coaching practices were once again called into question, the offense lost its best playmaker and the team has lost its focus. 

The Cougars will be interesting to watch as long as Leach is at the helm, as he may be at risk of losing this squad's respect. Wilson claimed to have quit the team due to Leach's abusive coaching practices. When your best player quits because of the coach, the coach finds himself immediately on the hot seat.

Even if he maintains his status as the team's unquestioned leader, the Cougars will still need to replace Wilson's production, something they've been unable to do so far. 

This is a story that bears watching into the offseason as the investigation into Leach's coaching practices winds down. For now, we will have to settle for seeing how the Cougars respond against their main rival.