Huard’s Apple Cup Preview: Breakdown, prediction of No. 12 UW at WSU
After years as a day-after-Thanksgiving tradition, the Apple Cup returns to Saturday when the No. 12 UW Huskies go to Pullman’s Martin Stadium to take on the WSU Cougars.
There’s no one better to preview the big game from a Husky perspective than Brock Huard, host of Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk, color commentator for college football broadcasts on FOX, and a former Washington quarterback who played in the Apple Cup a time or two himself.
The WSU radio broadcast of the game will be carried on Seattle Sports 710 AM in the Puget Sound area, starting with the pregame show at 5:30 p.m. and kickoff at 7:30.
Here’s what Brock had to say in response to our questions about the huge matchup between the 9-2 Huskies (6-2 conference), who are trying to sneak into the Pac-12 Championship Game, and 7-4 Cougars (4-4), who are aiming to better their bowl position.
• You’ve talked about WSU’s defensive line being a strength of its team, but the same can be said about UW’s offensive line. Who has the edge heading into Saturday?
Pretty even matchup, but the fact that the game is played in Pullman does give that D-line an advantage to play off the noise and use their quickness and speed.
• What will you be looking for early in the game?
The mix and balance on offense will be essential for UW on the road, and both WSU and UW’s defenses limiting explosive plays. There will be plenty of yards gained and a fair amount of points, but when both offenses have been their most dominant is when they mix the threat of run with their dominant passing games.
• Do the Huskies have any advantage on defense against WSU’s offense?
UW’s two edge rushers are the best tandem in the Pac-12 and one of the best in the FBS. Bralen Trice and Jeremiah Martin (13.5 combined sacks) will be a handful for the still young offensive tackles of WSU.
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) October 24, 2022
• After starting 4-0, the Huskies dropped back-to-back games on the road. They’re 5-0 since the ASU loss. What’s changed?
Health. Experience. Confidence. A defense able to play some level of complimentary football and a QB who has elevated the belief factor of every Husky on and off the field. Catching the power of belief and riding that emotion can be a powerful game changer. It has been for the Huskies.
• Why can quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and UW’s offense have a big game on Saturday?
If Washington can slow down the Cougars’ front seven, there will be ample matchups in the passing game with Jalen McMillan in the slot, Rome Odunze as the flanker and the play pass that’s been so effective all season long. It’s been a challenge for opposing defenses to get to Penix because of his lightning quick release, awareness of the scheme and an offensive line that has allowed him to be sacked just five times in 11 games!
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) November 14, 2022
• How much of a motivating factor for UW is last year’s blowout Apple Cup loss at home with WSU fans storming the field at Husky Stadium?
There are so many new faces from the very top to the multitude of transfers on both sides that I don’t think revenge will be front of mind. However, there will certainly be some of the returnees that won’t forget that celebration and will look to do the same in Pullman on Saturday night.
• This is coach Kalen DeBoer’s first Apple Cup game. It seemed like he handled himself well for Oregon, so what does he need to do vs. WSU?
DeBoer did not minimize the emotion and rivalry involved in the Oregon game and I’m sure he’ll lean into that same philosophy this week. I think there is something to be said with DeBoer’s past, growing up in a small town and rural environment where rivalry runs deep. Like Dan Lanning at Oregon, DeBoer will find a similar-minded rivalry foe in WSU coach Jake Dickert this week.
UW 33-30. Epic battle on the way.
More on the Apple Cup from Seattle Sports
• Former WSU receiver Michael Bumpus previews the Apple Cup
• Huard: The biggest matchup to watch between UW and WSU
• Huard: Does this ‘epic’ Apple Cup mean more to UW Huskies or WSU?
• Apple Cup 2022: Details on game time, matchup