POLL RESULTS: It’s a split decision on the Apple Cup

Responders give Washington a narrow advantage over Washington State for Saturday’s game.

First off, let me say I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving. I’m extremely thankful for all of the Herald’s readers, and for those who participate in these weekly polls.

As for this week’s poll about the Apple Cup, we have a split decision. The annual football game between the University of Washington Huskies and the Washington State University Cougars takes place Saturday at Husky Stadium in Seattle, and this week’s poll asked responders who they thought was going to prevail in the Apple Cup. Both teams come into the game with 9-2 records, and Washington State can claim the Pac-12 North title with a victory.

Here’s how the vote went:

Add them together and we have a close race, as 56 percent of the responders believe Washington will win the Apple Cup, while 44 percent believe Washington State will prevail.

These results seem to make more sense than the betting line, which has had the Huskies as a 10-point favorite throughout the week. That seems extreme, especially for two teams that look pretty even on paper, and especially when one considers that WSU has considerably more on the line in this one than UW.

However, we also have to look at history, and recent results have been heavily slanted toward the Huskies. Washington has won four straight Apple Cups and seven of the past eight. Last year’s edition in Pullman seemed like it pitted evenly-matched teams, and both teams had the utmost motivation as it was a winner-takes-all game for the Pac-12 North, yet the Huskies won going away. Washington coach Chris Petersen has never lost to Washington State, and each of his three previous meetings was won by the Huskies by at least 18 points. So perhaps the oddsmakers aren’t totally off base.

But we can’t forget what happened exactly 20 years ago. In 1997 the Cougars came to Husky Stadium for the Apple Cup with a chance to earn their first trip to the Rose Bowl in 67 years, while Washington could only play the role of the spoiler. WSU won that game 41-35 behind quarterback Ryan Leaf’s 358 yards and two touchdowns, and the Cougars headed to Pasadena. The situation is eerily similar this year, so could we see history repeat itself?

Beginning at 5 p.m. Saturday we’ll find out.

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