The Apple Cup is tomorrow.
I never thought that statement would send shivers up my spine. There has been nary a time in the history of this game where the two teams have been quite this bad. Granted at one time or another one team has been terrible but never both. The game has become something of a national laughing stock. Jokes about a repeat Toilet Bowl and both teams reduced mental capacity have abounded both at home and around the country. It wouldn't be half as bad if the game weren't a national broadcast on FSN.
For the first time in recent memory, there are tickets left available the week of the game, and not just a few, but, as of Thursday, over 1,500. People, even inside the great state of Washington, just don't seem to care this year. But rather than give you more reasons not to care, why not give you some reasons to pack up and fly over to Pullman (obeying all traffic laws of course) camp in your car and take in Saturday's game.
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Any Apple Cup game day is a great time no matter what colors you wear. Sitting in the tailgating lots and throwing back a few adult beverages and cramming your face full of juicy steaks or beefy bratwursts is always a good time, but yelling at Husky fans add that extra special spice that is just so nice. But if your one of those Cougar fans who has a friend with special needs (a la they wear purple) its always nice to reconnect with them once a year, even if they do need severe psychiatric assistance.
After having a few friends graduate this past May, the one piece of advice I've gotten from all of them is to stay in college as long as possible. The real world, in their words, stinks. So why not, for one weekend, come back to Pullman and enjoy yourself as if you still had the ability to wake up the morning after closing the Coug and ace your comparative ethnic studies test. Many people didn't truly appreciate college until it was gone so why not appreciate it again. Besides, if you tell a good story to a tipsy, young, barely legal fraternity brother, you might score yourself a beer.
Looking past the combined 1-20 record of the Huskies and Cougars, the game is still a college football game. The players on the field still aren't being paid for their efforts (unless your name is Reggie Bush). And given the fact that both these teams have nothing to lose, you may see the playbook totally opened up. So a double-reverse, Statue of Liberty with a hook and ladder isn't out of the question.
Besides all these reasons, there is one above all others of why you should care about this game. Because no matter what the records of both teams are there is still one thing on the line in this game.
Pride. The pride of the entire state is up for grabs. For the Cougars, pride means being the 11th team to beat the Huskies and virtually guarantee them their first no win season in school history. For the Huskies, it means validating that the Cougars are the worst team in college football and it also keeps the goose egg out of the win column. Aside from all that, it also means, as usual, bragging rights for the entire year.
To 49 states in the union (and probably all 13 Canadian provinces) the game is unimportant and an insult to their television to even have on. But to the Evergreen State it should still mean something. In a year of budget deficits, attack advertisements, a struggling economy and other terrible sporting teams, let this matter at least for something.
Somebody is going to win Saturday. And if you miss that Kevin Lopina/Ronnie Fouch Hail Mary pass caught in the end zone by Brandon Gibson/Jermaine Kearse with no time left on the clock you'll regret missing it for a very long time indeed.
Or you'll get over it by Thursday as you fall into a turkey induced sleep rivaled by Sleeping Beauty.
Before we get to the picks, a quick distribution of kudos to the Cougar volleyball team who were able to secure one more conference victory than the football team with their win over Oregon State last weekend. The team seems to be heading in the right direction in a conference that is incredibly tough to compete in and although one win may not seem significant, when you consider how mightily this team has struggled the past few years, it really is quite an accomplishment.
Last Week: 4-1
Two victories needed for Oregon State to win the conference and still finish ranked lower than USC. What an accomplishment.
The Other Oregon 35, We Have Football? 10
It's known simply as the Big Game. Even more important for the Cardinal who need a win to become bowl eligible. So why not, one time, let the band help Stanford out.
The Pope's Underlings 24, King Solomon's Bears 20
And now, the Apple Cup picks from the only two people other than myself I know qualified to pick this game: my mom the Cougar and my dad the Husky.
Washington 2, Washington State 0 says my Dad who said it in a way only he could: "Given that Fox is broadcasting this game nationwide, it will be viewed as Bush's greatest coup. The country will yield a concerted yawn of indifference, falling into a comatose state, which will, in turn, allow Bush to declare himself President for Life. Besides this dire prediction, I guess as a Husky I must uphold the party line and go with the fangless wonders of Montlake. The Canines will win by 2 points when the Cougs truly redefine the term "Coug'd It" (or Mariner'd It) by allowing a safety in the second overtime period of a 0-0 tie."
Washington State 17, Washington 14 says my Mom who responds to my dad in her own way: "Very eloquent for a Husky, though the safety is a low blow - typical Husky. So in the same ilk, I am pleased and honored to stand by the superior animal in the food chain and go with my beloved Cougars. I will give the odds of the mighty Cougs over the Puppies by three. Regardless of the outcome of a single football game, the greater measure of superiority is school spirit, and on that topic, Cougs will always rule."
The Cougars are getting healthier at the perfect time. The Huskies may be without their starting left tackle Ben Ossai and with their running game struggling enough as it is, that plays well in the Cougars hands who are atrocious against the ground game but decent against the pass for which the Huskies will answer with Fouch, who completes about 43% of his passes.
In the last 13 years, only one Apple Cup has been decided by double digits. Expect the trend to continue here. For once, please let me be right.
Washington State 24, Washington 17
Favorite Apple Cup Joke:
Q: Where do you go in Seattle if there is a tornado?
A: Husky Stadium, there are never any touchdowns there
Obscure Pick of the Week! Grand Valley State Lakers over Ashland Eagles 17 to 10.
New feature this week on the Park Bench: Dunderhead of the Week
The inaugural award will go to Arizona men's hoop freshman guard Jamelle Horne who fouled a UAB player with one second left in the game and the score tied. Worse yet, UAB was 70 feet from the basket trying a Hail Mary shot before overtime. Worse yet, the foul was flagrant and UAB would've been at a one-and-one otherwise.
Make more room on the bench for our second dunderhead: Fairleigh Dickinson guard Terence Grier, who stole the ball from Cougar guard Marcus Capers with about five seconds to go in Tuesday's game when his team was down 20 points. He attempted a tomahawk dunk which he missed because he was rightfully hacked by Capers. He then missed both free throws. Way to go Grier, showing real class in a game the Cougars probably could've run up the score in if they felt like it.
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