A GRIP ON SPORTS • Apple Cup Friday. It’s a holiday, right? A day when people all over the nation take time to pause, reflect and spend a whole heck of a lot of money. By this evening, the buyer’s remorse will kick in and it will be time to sit down to watch the rivalry game of the century (2018 version). Read on.
• The only thing that could make tonight’s Apple Cup better? If Washington was having the year everyone expected them to have. If the Huskies were 11-0 or something, this game would be off-the-charts special.
But it’s still right up there.
The 10-1 Cougars versus the 8-3 Huskies. Both ranked. The Pac-12 North on the line. The conference’s lone chance to make the college football playoffs and earn the extra few million dollars that goes with it.
So what will happen in Pullman?
There are three things I can guarantee: There will be noise, lots of noise; there will be rain, maybe not lots, but rain nonetheless; and there will be one play we will be talking about forever.
Not sure who will make it. Not sure who it will favor. But there will be something, a key catch, a replay review that seems odd, a trick play gone bad, a strange flag, something that burns its way into our memory and never leaves.
It’s one of the odd things about big college football games. There always seems to be one key moment, one key play, that stands out and stands the test of time.
Look, I’m not going to try to tell you who is going to make it or how it happens. I don’t know anymore than I know who is going to win.
But I do know something weird or special or just plain spectacular – is that an oxymoron? – will happen.
It’s the Apple Cup. It’s in Pullman. And it’s special.
• This column was posted early this morning for a reason. It’s Apple Cup Friday and there are ancient Cougars in town. I’m meeting one for breakfast. And it’s personal.
If you know who Brian Kelly is, you’ve been a Cougar fan forever. If you don’t, look him up.
But he’s not a Cougar receiver to me. He’s a childhood friend who I haven’t seen since fourth grade. That’s more than a half-century ago. Pretty weird, huh?
He’s in town for the Apple Cup and we are going to reconnect before he and his wife Kim head down to Pullman with his old quarterback, Jack Thompson.
In the small world category, the connection between Brian and myself rates about a 9.7.
WSU: If you have any interest in this evening’s game, this is the place to be. Theo Lawson has more than enough stories to keep you busy until kickoff. Besides the usual preview of the game, he’s really proud of his Peyton Pelluer piece, in which the senior linebacker goes through every game he’s played as a Cougar. … And then there is this Q&A with four Cougar quarterbacks. … Theo has his pick. And he feels Washington will win. … Ryan Collingwood has more on the best performances by a WSU quarterback in an Apple Cup. He also has a piece on UW defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake, a North Central High graduate. … A bus carrying Washington band memories crashed last night en route to Pullman. Thankfully, there were no serious injuries. … The extra participant tonight? The weather.
Elsewhere in the Pac-12, there is another rivalry game today. It happens just south of here, as Oregon State hosts Oregon in the Civil War. Despite the disparity of records, it will probably be a fun game to watch. … The other rivalry game this weekend is in the desert, where Arizona State and Arizona meet for the Territorial Cup. … There is also a rivalry in Utah, though it isn’t between two Pac-12 teams. The Utes face BYU. … California and Colorado will mix it up this weekend. … So will Stanford and a young UCLA squad. … In the afterthought bowl, USC hosts Notre Dame. There have been years when this was the most important game of the season in college football. Not this year. … In basketball, the Pac-12 fumbled away another chance at a big-time win when UCLA lost to No. 11 Michigan State in Las Vegas. The Bruins were overpowered, actually. … Utah also lost yesterday. … Washington got almost everything it wanted out of its Canada adventure.
Gonzaga: The wins in Maui were great. But now that’s in the past and the Bulldogs must look toward the future. Jim Meehan has a story on that as well as one on the all-tournament selections. … The Gonzaga women jumped out to a 7-0 lead against No. 1 Notre Dame in Vancouver, British Columbia yesterday. But they didn’t win.
EWU: A former Eastern quarterback is once again the star of the Canadian Football League. … Around the Big Sky, only Montana State has a playoff game this weekend. … UC Davis joins Weber State and Eastern with a first-round bye.
Idaho: The Vandals swept their first round match in the Big Sky Conference volleyball tournament.
Whitworth: The task Saturday is a tough one. But that doesn’t mean the Pirates will be intimidated by St. John’s or its reach football history. Dan Thompson has a preview of the Whits’ Division III playoff matchup.
• If you are heading to Pullman, drive safe. If you are watching from home, enjoy. And then get back here right afterward for my TV Take. Until later …
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