DANNY ONEIL

O’Neil: Huskies don’t hate the Cougs; we whup them in the Apple Cup

Nov 22, 2017, 8:25 AM | Updated: 1:45 pm

Danny O'Neil doesn't consider the Cougars as the Huskies' enemy, but rival just a rival. (AP)...

Danny O'Neil doesn't consider the Cougars as the Huskies' enemy, but rival just a rival. (AP)

(AP)

I’m a Washington Husky who usually roots for the Washington State Cougars.

I do this only partly because of how much it annoys them to hear that.

I root for them because I admire their devotion. They’re good fans, bonded by the shared of experience of attending the school located in the smallest outpost in the conference. I also respect their tireless loathing of all things Washington, but mostly I usually root for the Cougs because it’s more fun to beat them when they’re at least average.

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See, I don’t see Washington State as real threat to the Huskies. At least not in the big picture, and just because that’s infuriatingly patronizing doesn’t mean it’s not true.

The Oregon Ducks are our enemy; the Cougs are our rival and there’s a big difference. At least there is for me. I love Washington’s rivalry with Washington State. I love the fact that the schools are on opposite sides of the state, and I love the fact that one school is in the state’s largest city and the other is undeniably rural.

I love that when I was characterizing Washington State as the Huskies’ little brother on Twitter, a Cougar piped up to inform me, “We aren’t family. You’re our middle-class neighbors who think they’re rich.”

It was funny because it’s more than a little true. The Cougs have played in two Rose Bowls since I enrolled at Washington in the fall of 1993, and the Huskies have played in one – though Washington does have last year’s berth in the four-team national playoff, which evens the score. At least in my mind.

The Huskies are in an unusual role for this Saturday’s Apple Cup. They’re the spoilers.

We’re used to being the team with more on the line, whether it’s bowl positioning or – ahem – avoiding the first winless season in school history.

This year it’s Washington State with something to lose – namely a berth in the Pac-12 Championship game – while the Huskies’ only strategic incentive is a polishing of the bowl resume.

But any question about how much satisfaction I would feel with a Washington victory was answered clearly this week when Cougar fans began crowing first about the number of points Utah scored at Husky Stadium last week and then made declarations about the fortunate way in which the Utes chose to use a timeout in the final minute. Luck was invoked by more than one Cougar. They weren’t talking about Andrew, either, and the belief that some Cougars have about holding the upper hand in this season’s matchup will pepper a Huskies’ victory with more than a little bit of satisfaction.

More specifically, my co-worker Jim Moore’s declaration that he was looking forward to rushing onto the field at Husky Stadium after a Cougars’ victory he had already foreseen gave me a vision of my own, and no it wasn’t the idea of him “rushing” the field with the hitch currently affecting his giddy-up. I imagined the decision he’ll face in the third quarter on Saturday night as to whether to get up and have everyone watch him leave the scene of a whupping or if he should just stay to the bitter end, take his medicine and run the risk that it will get worse.

I usually root for the Cougs except when they’re playing Washington, and they deserve congratulations on their best season in 15 years. That’s actually going to make a win on Saturday more meaningful.

Danny ONeil

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O’Neil: Huskies don’t hate the Cougs; we whup them in the Apple Cup