Washington State's Pac-12 title hopes have been dashed.
Despite tying a school record with 10 wins, the eighth-ranked Cougars watched their chances of qualifying for the conference championship game evaporate Friday as the 16th-ranked Washington Huskies pulled out a 28-15 Apple Cup win in snowy conditions at Martin Stadium.
The Huskies have now won six straight Apple Cups dating back to 2013.
Pac-12 Still Runs Through Huskies Despite Rocky Season
If nothing else, the Huskies have proved to be resilient in the face of adversity.
Their season started with a deflating 21-16 loss to Auburn in Atlanta, and disappointing detours cropped up in the form of an overtime loss to Oregon and a deflating 12-10 defeat at the hands of Cal that underscored the offensive woes the program has been plagued by.
Through it all, though, the Huskies haven't cratered.
While there have been valid concerns about their ability to remain perched atop the conference—blame a 77th-ranked scoring attack (entering Friday)—they were able to churn out quality wins (see: Utah, BYU and Stanford), stay afloat and position themselves for a shot at the Pac-12 North title.
On Friday, it was clear the persistence paid off.
The Huskies were rewarded with bitter and sloppy weather that slowed down national passing leader Gardner Minshew (152 yards, two interceptions), and they seized the opportunity in a big way.
Not only was the defense sharp against a stripped-down Wazzu offense, but quarterback Jake Browning also navigated the conditions well as he went 11-of-14 for 207 yards.
The star, however, was running back Myles Gaskin, who paced the offense with 27 carries for 170 yards and three touchdowns, including an 80-yard trip to the end zone that put up the Huskies 28-15 with 12:30 remaining in regulation:
Thanks to that long run, Gaskin was able to make history, according to The Athletic's Christian Caple:
Head coach Chris Petersen also went deep into his playbook and pulled out a double pass for a 22-yard Hunter Bryant touchdown to keep the Cougars reeling early in the third quarter:
Given the circumstances and the stakes, that effort was arguably Washington's finest of the season.
Now afforded a chance to vie for Pac-12 superiority next Friday, the Huskies will look to channel the same balance with a second win over Utah in their sights.
Minshew's Heisman Stock Takes Hit in Rivalry Loss
Minshew may still make a trip to New York City on Dec. 8 as a Heisman Trophy finalist, but he didn't do himself any favors Friday night.
And sure, the snow was a major reason why. In fact, the poor visibility, swirling wind and slippery surface can be raised as legitimate excuses and reasons to write off the poor performance.
But as always, the Heisman is an award defined by narrative and numbers.
Numbers-wise, Mishew's case is ironclad. He entered Friday with a 407-yard lead in the race for the nation's most passing yards, and his 36 touchdowns through the air were tied for the country's top mark.
However, he doesn't check all the boxes when it comes to narrative.
While the Cougars tied a school record with 10 wins and Minshew helped blow preseason expectations out of the water as he captained the offense to rousing results, their entire season had been building toward Friday night and a chance to flip the script against their biggest rival.
That simply didn't happen.
Although they had a chance to make a statement and clinch their first Pac-12 title game appearance, the Cougars came up short as Minshew floundered with a pair of interceptions and a paltry 4.3 yards per pass attempt.
Washington will square off against Utah in the Pac-12 title game at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, on Nov 30. Washington State, on the other hand, will have to sit back and watch the proceedings from afar before bowl games are announced in December.