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First look: WSU at Washington

Tue., Nov. 24, 2009

Time: 3:30 p.m. Saturday. TV: FSN

Site: Husky Stadium, Seattle

The records: WSU (1-10, 0-8 in Pac-10); Washington (3-7, 2-5)

Last week: Washington had a bye, lost to Oregon State, 48-21, Nov. 15; WSU lost to Oregon State, 42-10

Last time: WSU defeated UW 16-13 in two overtimes in Pullman last year

The line: Washington by 24.5

What it means for WSU

It is the Apple Cup and there’s a deep meaning ingrained in that title. It’s about bragging rights in the state for another year – and WSU has won four of the past five in this rivalry and two straight. It’s about ending the season on a high note, possibly the only high note in the Cougars’ injury-riddled year. It certainly would be the highest note, just like it was last year. And it’s about finishing. WSU is looking down the road, and another Apple Cup win would make that future seem a little brighter throughout the off-season. By the way, WSU has never won three consecutive Apple Cups.

What it means for UW

Again, it is the Apple Cup and all that means. But it’s also the first for Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian, who went through the BYU-Utah game as a player and the USC-UCLA rivalry as an assistant coach. This one is different, however, because of the way it wraps its hands around an entire state. From elementary schools to offices, people in Washington will be either wearing purple or crimson this week. Winning this game would help Sarkisian and the Huskies forget about their recent defeats – they’ve lost four consecutive games and six of seven – and send them into next week’s game with Cal on a high.

Key matchup

Washington quarterback Jake Locker vs. WSU’s defense.

It’s going to take the entire Cougars defense – how many of them who are healthy – to stop UW’s dual-threat quarterback. Though Locker doesn’t run as much as he did during his redshirt freshman year – the only time he’s played in this game – he’s still a threat with his feet. In his lone Apple Cup (he was injured last year), Locker struggled throwing the ball, hitting just 12 of 35 for 224 yards. He was intercepted twice but did throw a 63-yard touchdown pass. He also rushed for 103 yards on 14 carries, including a 23-yard scoring run. The Cougars defense has had its ups and downs tackling this season, but will have to be perfect Saturday to contain Locker.     – Vince Grippi

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