Apple Cup week has arrived! And with it comes another battle between the Washington State University Cougars and and University of Washington Huskies that will go down in series lore.
The 111th edition of the annual game between the state’s major college football programs takes place at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Martin Stadium in Pullman. The game pits the seventh-ranked Cougars against the 16th-ranked Huskies in a contest to determine the Pac-12 North championship, winner takes all.
Washington State comes into the game 7-1 in the Pac-12 and 10-1 overall, having won seven straight, and the Cougars are on the fringes of the College Football Playoff discussion. Washington comes in at 6-2 in the Pac-12 and 8-3 overall, having underachieved slightly based on preseason predictions, but still having a chance to claim a conference title.
Indeed, considering whichever team wins Friday earns a berth in the Pac-12 championship game on Nov. 30 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, this is one of the most important Apple Cups in series history.
It’s also the same circumstances as two years ago, when Washington won 45-17 in Pullman in an Apple Cup to decide the North champion. Prior to that game I compiled a list of the 10 most consequential games between Washington State and Washington. I’d have to think some more to determine exactly where 2016 and 2018 should fall on that list, but both would certainly be in the top five, and an argument can be made they should be ranked one-two.
So it doesn’t get any bigger than this.
Washington State is the favorite in this one. The Cougars are absolutely rolling, particularly on offense. Senior quarterback Gardner Minshew, a grad transfer from East Carolina, has been a revelation as he leads the nation in passing, and he’s coming off a game in which he set the school record by throwing seven touchdown passes in the Cougars’ 69-28 romp over Arizona on Saturday night in Pullman. He’s been helped by an offensive line, including two Everett natives on the right side, that’s allowed just seven sacks all season.
But Washington has history on its side. The Huskies, coming off a 42-23 victory over Oregon State on Saturday at Husky Stadium, lead the all-time series 72-32-6, and Huskies coach Chris Petersen is a perfect 4-0 in Apple Cups. Washington will combat Washington State’s “Air Raid” offense with a defense that’s tied for 10th in the nation by allowing just 16.6 points per game. The secondary, led by sophomore cornerback Byron Murphy, junior safety Taylor Rapp and senior safety Jojo McIntosh, is the strength of that defense, meaning the Huskies may be as well-suited to face the Cougars as any team WSU has played this year.
The betting line opened with Washington State being a 3-point favorite.
So who wins this year’s Apple Cup? Make your prediction here: