No. 13 Washington State had everything to play for, including a division title, a trip to the Pac-12 Championship Game and the slim hopes of sneaking into the College Football Playoff on a chaos-filled weekend. Predictably, for fans on both sides of this rivalry, the Cougars barely showed up to play on a rainy Saturday night in Seattle and lost the Apple Cup 41-14 in a runaway for No. 17 Washington.
The result gave the Huskies double-digit wins on the year for the first time since the dawn of the 1990’s and was perhaps the team’s most complete effort of the season, especially when considering the stage, the opponent and the weather. Quarterback Jake Browning didn’t need to throw the ball much given the sub-par conditions, managing just 93 yards though the air and finding the end zone only off a short keeper past the goal line.
Of course it’s not like he needed to do much when he could just turn around and hand it off to Myles Gaskin. The junior, who very well could have played his final game at Husky Stadium, was terrific from the opening whistle and finished with 192 yards and four scores to pace an offense that wasn’t quite hitting on every cylinder but was fairly efficient once it found its legs. Backup Salvon Ahmed added another 82 yards as two of the team’s biggest weapons (tailback Lavon Coleman and wideout/return man Dante Pettis) both left in the first half with leg injuries.
Such offensive numbers weren’t bad but they were overshadowed quite a bit by the phenomenal performance from UW’s defense. They recorded four turnovers in the game, five sacks and didn’t allow a third down conversion until late in the fourth quarter. Defensive linemen Vita Vea was a constant presence in the backfield all night despite double-teams and the secondary seemed to have no issues with Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense.
That played a big role in record-setting quarterback Luke Falk looking even less than pedestrian against his rival to go 0-fer in his Apple Cup career against the Huskies. He wound up throwing for 369 yards and a touchdown but had three interceptions and a fumble on a night where not much could go right for the Cougs. Even worse, the team’s best defender — defensive lineman Hercules Mata’afa — was called for targeting in the third quarter and will miss the first half of their bowl game next month.
He will not miss the Pac-12 Championship game next week though because the team will be sitting at home in Pullman watching on. By virtue of Stanford’s win over Washington a few weeks ago, the Cardinal got the result they needed on Saturday to book their ticket to face USC at Levi’s Stadium on Friday for the league title.
That wasn’t how Wazzu wanted things to play out of course after controlling their own destiny in the conference but it was one that their rivals at Washington were happy to give them in order to keep the Apple Cup in Seattle yet again.