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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

WSU seniors could join exclusive club

PULLMAN – Of all the alumni that played football at Washington State, only the seniors that graduated in 1994 and 1995 – and any fifth-year seniors in 1933 – can say they went 2-0 in Pullman Apple Cups. On Saturday, the 14 members of Class of 2014 will have a chance to join that exclusive club. It’s been an eventful four or five years for those seniors. They signed letters of intent with one coach and played the bulk of their careers for another. They will finish every season with losing records yet they took the program to its first bowl game in a decade. They watched class-member and quarterback Connor Halliday redefine what kind of passing numbers are possible for a quarterback on the Palouse, and saw his career end three games too soon. And, of course, they made the largest comeback in Apple Cup history in 2012 in front of their home crowd. Mike Leach credited that game with energizing WSU’s ensuing offseason and he certainly hopes this one will as well. At times it seems he’s already got an eye toward the players who will be around to benefit if it does. Youth has been a central theme in 2014 – how much of it the Cougars have and how the aging process can be sped up. The player that appeared to impress Leach the most in Saturday’s loss at Arizona State was the one that entered the game with the least experience of all, freshman cornerback Marcellus Pippins. When asked afterwards if any players were attempting to provide some guiding leadership that might have stymied WSU’s defensive struggles after turnovers he replied: “The young guys kind of are. We’ve got some young guys I thought played pretty good.” But it is the old guys for whom Saturday’s game will be most defining. Senior receiver Vince Mayle acknowledged that the fast-approaching end of his college career will carry some extra emotion. But he’s trying not to think about it now, or attach any extra significance to the game, in case it affects his focus. “I’m just going to go out there and play like it’s my first game ever,” Mayle said. “I know it’s the Apple Cup, but you can’t go into a game thinking it’s bigger than what it is. Yeah, it’s a rivalry but it’s still another game you’ve got to treat normal.” Even if the Biletnikoff Award semifinalist – who made a strong case on Saturday why he should be a finalist with 15 catches and 252 receiving yards – is not thinking about the game’s weight right now, it is likely to strongly impact how he and the other seniors are remembered. They may not be around to build on whatever the team can accomplish on Saturday. But if they can go undefeated against the Huskies in Martin Stadium, they’ll always be memorable.