It didn’t happen quite like I expected it to, but with one game remaining, the Cougars – just as I projected three months ago on the dot – are 9-2 overall with a 6-2 mark in the Pac-12 Conference. Although I won’t gloat. On Aug. 25, I called a 50-31 WSU win over Cal. The Cougars lost 37-3. Before I was aware of Khalil Tate’s existence, I predicted a 45-17 Cougars win over Arizona. The Wildcats throttled the Cougars 58-37. Likewise, I thought USC and Utah would hand WSU a pair of losses, but twice more, the Cougars proved me wrong. Still, they arrived at 9-2, 6-2. As I guessed, the 110th Apple Cup is a biggie – and for more reason than because, well, isn’t it always a biggie? The Cougars are playing for the Pac-12 North, the Huskies can play spoiler and enhance their bowl prospects by winning this game for the fifth year in a row.
This won’t be a high-scoring game – the defenses are too good and the elements will be too nasty. Luke Falk and Jake Browning won’t be at their best, but Hercules Mata’afa and Vita Vea might be. I have every reason to believe the fourth installment of Mike Leach v. Chris Petersen will be closer than the last three – UW won each of those by at least 18 points – and the Cougars haven’t faltered in a big game this year. But on Aug. 25, my gut told me Huskies 38, Cougars 31. The big winner on Saturday? Not WSU or UW, but Stanford. The Huskies will retain possession of the Apple Cup. The Cardinal will represent the North in the conference championship game next week. The Cougars will still play in a good bowl game – not a bad consolation for the first nine-win regular season under Leach.
The line: Washington by 10
The pick: UW 24, WSU 21