Apple Cup: The Ultimate Football Friday for Cougar Nation
Today is the ultimate Football Friday across Cougar Nation. We're just hours away from the biggest game on the schedule, year in, year out.
The Apple Cup!
It really doesn't make any difference what the season records for the UW or WSU might be coming into this game. The game is played for the purest of reasons to ever consider putting on the pads and helmet.
We're talking pride and bragging rights when we discuss winning an Apple Cup.
Those who live somewhere other than the Evergreen State of Washington just don't get it. That's OK. Not a problem.
If you are part of Cougar Nation, the Apple Cup supersedes just about everything other than family. OK, for some, even family takes a backseat to claiming gridiron victory over the University of Washington.
Unless you have been up in the space station for the past three months, everyone is aware that the records of the Cougs and Huskies defy description.
The last time anyone lost the way these teams have this year might have been when Fritz Mondale took on Ronald Regan. We know how that turned out.
Yes, we're all aware of the fact that the two teams have combined for one win, with WSU trouncing lower division Portland State.
The Huskies have managed to find a way to lose every game this season. That isn't easy, considering that they began their schedule with one of the most talented players in college football, Jake Locker.
When Locker went down in week four, it wasn't as though the team went with him. The Dawgs were already struggling with Locker at quarterback. Things didn't get any worse because they were already about as bad as it gets.
Not to be outdone, the Cougs have not only played poorly, they have set new records for giving up points and scoring the fewest points of any WSU football team in history. Their defense gives up more points than Coach Tony Bennett's basketball team will in a game. Please don't bother to look that one up. It's true.
On the plus side, thankfully Washington State doesn't have a water polo team. If they did, the water polo team would probably score more points in a game.
Forget all that.
Both teams always want to win the Apple Cup. The rivalry between the two major universities in Washington is unmatched anywhere in the country. Because this season has been a disaster of titanic proportion for both schools, there might be even more desire for victory...if that's humanly possible.
Ronnie Fouch has been the starting quarterback since week four of the Farewell Tour for Coach Ty Willingham. This guy has a rocket launcher arm.
Just one knock against Fouch: There's no telling where he is going to launch the football. You can call him a lot of things, but an accurate passer isn't one of them.
Despite having a talented, huge offensive line, the Huskies have been inconsistent running the football. That's due in large part to injury. Sound familiar, Coug fans?
On defense, the UW has been bad all season. Not as bad as WSU, but then the Cougs have set a new standard for giving up big plays, short plays, plays down the middle...You get the idea.
Last week Kevin Lopina went down with a concussion and missed the entire second half. Lopina is expected to play, but didn't look good at practice on Thursday.
JT Levenseller was taking all the snaps with the first team at the beginning of the week and seemed to be improving with every play. Levenseller, like everyone who's played quarterback for the Cougs this season, has a injury. It's his hand. Fortunately it's not on his throwing hand and won't be a factor.
The Cougs' running game will need a super charge of adrenaline. Dwight Tardy isn't back to full speed, but will probably start. Logwone Mitz is gimpy.
If Washington State expects to win, they will need a big game from their biggest offensive weapon, Brandon Gibson. Gibson has put up decent numbers. You have to wonder what kind of year he might have had were it not for the rash of injuries at the quarterback position.
This will be the next to last game for first year Coach Paul Wulff. Coach Wulff knows all about the glory that goes with an Apple Cup win. During his playing days in Pullman, Wulff had an appendectomy the week of this big game. Did that keep him on the sidelines? Right! Of course he suited up.
Wulff had a great game, ignoring any "discomfort" his surgeon might have caused. You can rest assured, Coach Wulff will impart that intensity to his players.
On the other side of the field, this will be the last Apple Cup game for Coach Ty Willingham. Think he doesn't want a victory as badly as anyone else? Well, pile that desire right on top of the glory of winning this big game.
Since the game will be carried nationally by Fox Sports, folks all across the country will be reaching for the remote to switch to something other than a Washington/Washington State football game. But there will be exceptions.
For example, anyone in the state of Washington who isn't in Martin Stadium by the 12:00 pm kickoff time Saturday afternoon will have themselves firmly ensconced in front of a television tuned to FSN.
Forget the records. Forget the injuries. Forget new coaches or coaches run out of town.
It's Apple Cup time, baby! That means a great football game.
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