Right after you get back from Black Friday shopping and are ready for a nap, flip on Fox at 12:30 for the 106th playing of the Apple Cup. This one is usually close but let’s take a look at each teams road up to this point to see if we can shed some light on this one.
The Huskies started out on an impressive run to start the season, they won their first 4 games out of the gate including a blowout in the opener against Boise State, 38-6. The Huskies then went on a 3 game skid that started with a heartbreaker at Palo Alto against the 5th rated Stanford Cardinal 31-28. The next game they played with the Oregon Ducks for almost 3 quarters before the Ducks blew it open in the end. The Huskies then got routed by the Arizona State Cardinals in Tempe, 53-24. The Huskies followed those losses with blowout wins at home against lowly California and Colorado. Their next game against UCLA, starting quarterback Keith Price was injured in the first half, and back up freshman Cyler Miles finished out the game but fell short to the Bruins 41-31. Coach Steve Sarkisian was under fire after this game and many Husky fans were voicing their displeasure. The following game, Cyler Miles started and the Huskies ran through the Beavers and dominated every aspect of the game in a 69-27 route of Oregon State.
The Cougs started out with two tough road games to start the season. They opened up at Auburn and had a chance to pull it out in the end, but a late interception cost the Cougs the win in the plains 31-24. The following game, the Cougs pulled off a defensive miracle when they beat the USC Trojans 10-7. They won their next two games in blow out fashion against Southern Utah and Idaho at home. That set up a big matchup against the Stanford Cardinal in Seattle, in which the Cougs were dominated 55-17 which served as a bit of a reality check for Cougs fans. The Cougs then travelled to Berkley to face the Cal Golden Bears and won 44-22 thanks to 5 turnovers by the Cougar defense. Then the Cougs went on a tail spin from there, getting blown out by the Beavers, Ducks, and Sun Devils. Just when the Cougs looked like they had no life left, Leach pulled out a miracle in the desert, beating the 6-3 Arizona Wildcats 24-17. This turned out to be a very impressive win because the following week, the Wildcats destroyed the Oregon Ducks 42-16 which shocked the nation. The Cougs played Utah last week which was their chance to get their 6th win and become bowl eligible for the first time since 2006. The Cougs started out on fire up 21-0 nothing against Utah’s backup quarterback and were able to hold on 49-37 and create a lot of anticipation for this Friday’s Apple Cup.
If we look at common opponents there is no doubt the Huskies look like the better team. The Cougs opened as a 14.5 point underdog in the Apple Cup, and Leach is going to have to pull out another miracle in order to win this one. Bishop Sankey who verbally committed to the Cougs, but later signed with the Huskies, is 3rd in the country in rushing yards with 1575 yards. The Cougs have struggled defensively for most of the season, so a good running game spells problems for the Cougs. The Cougs have also allowed multiple games of over 500 yards passing, so defensively the Cougs are going to give up some points. The Cougs offense is going to be the make or break of this game. They had their highest output of points last week with 49, 14 on defense and 35 on offense. The Cougs are going to need to put up those kind of numbers to compete in this one. The Huskies are 5-1 at home this year with all of those wins being over 18 points. The Cougs seem to be more composed and successful on the road so they should be able to give the Huskies a close first half at least. This is also a game that if Halliday has one of his multiple interception games, it could get ugly real quick. Halliday is coming in with some confidence with two wins in a row so let’s hope he gets some protection and is able to pick apart the tough Huskies secondary. Keith Price is expected to start, and with his disaster of a game last year, that may not be a bad thing. Either way this one could possibly get interesting and anything can happen in rivalry games.
The kickoff is at 12:30 on Fox this Friday.