First Look: Washington at Washington St.

Time: 4 p.m. Saturday, Martin Stadium, Pullman TV: Versus

Records: WSU (2-9, 1-7 in Pac-10); UW (5-6, 4-4)

Last week: Washington State did not play; Washington defeated California, 16-13

Last time: Washington defeated WSU, 30-0, in Seattle in 2009

The line: Washington by 6.5

What it means for WSU: It’s the Apple Cup. Do we have to say more? But there is more, actually. The Cougars are coming off their most complete performance of the Paul Wulff era, a dominating 31-14 win at Oregon State on Nov. 13. Which means they are also coming off back-to-back bye weeks. They are well-rested but will they be able to execute? They may need to for Wulff, 5-31 in nearly three seasons, to be back for a fourth year as athletic director Bill Moos hasn’t weighed in yet on the coach’s future, other than to say it will be evaluated when the season ends.

What they are saying: “I guess I really feel like I should hate them to my bone, to my core, just because everybody does. I guess I don’t like them because it’s the in-state rivalry. … It’s kind of made for you guys to hate each other.” – quarterback Jeff Tuel.

What it means for UW: It’s the Apple Cup. Do we have to say more? But there is more, especially for the Dawgs. A win Saturday and they go bowling in coach Steve Sarkisian’s second season and Jake Locker’s last. The senior quarterback is starting his third Apple Cup and he’s 1-1, including last year, when he ran for one touchdown and threw for another. As for Sarkisian, he rolled the dice last Saturday, eschewing a game-tying field goal on a last-play, fourth-and-goal from a yard out. Chris Polk and the UW offensive line made him look like a genius, cutting into the end zone to win the game.

What they are saying: “I think in all rivalry games you kind of go in knowing to expect the unexpected, in a sense. And that’s what makes rivalry games so unique and so fun. People pull out all the stops in these games.” – Sarkisian.

Key matchup: Locker vs. WSU’s linebackers.

The beat-up Locker – he missed the Oregon game with an injured rib – is the key to the Husky offense. Though the running game, featuring Polk and Jesse Callier, is improved this season, when the game is on the line Sarkisian calls Locker’s number, whether it is passing – he’s thrown for 1,983 yards and 15 touchdowns – or running – with 273 yards. He’s third on the team and took all but one key carry against Cal. Only one of the WSU starting linebackers – Alex Hoffman-Ellis – is bigger than Locker, who can hit like a fullback at times. The group must make sure Locker doesn’t make any big plays with his feet, as they can be demoralizing to a defense.

Vince Grippi

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