Moore: Apple Cup history isn’t usually on WSU’s side, but it could be Friday
I looked at the history of the Apple Cup last night and it’s worse than I thought. Overall, the Huskies hold a 73-32-6 edge over the Cougars. In the 46 years since I entered WSU as a freshman in 1974, we’ve won only 12 Apple Cups and just five at Husky Stadium, where the game will be played on Friday.
We haven’t won since erasing an 18-point deficit in the fourth quarter to prevail in overtime at Martin Stadium in 2012. In the last six Apple Cups, we’ve been outscored by an average of 36-14, not even coming close to beating the Dawgs.
Last year I thought for sure we’d break through with Gardner Minshew and a 10-1 team that was favored by 2 1/2 points to win. But we lost 28-15, and it went from being what I’d hoped would be a memorable night to a miserable night, finished off by a white-knuckle three-hour drive to Coeur d’Alene with cars scattered in ditches along the way.
On that drive I told myself I wouldn’t get my hopes up next year, but now that next year is here, I’ve forgotten what I said last year. Part of that has to do with a Husky team that looks far more vulnerable than usual. The Dawgs are 6-5 and have three losses to teams with losing records in conference play – Cal, Stanford and Colorado – not to mention two more to Oregon and Utah.
It’s not like WSU is killing it either, and we’re 6-5 too after somehow escaping with a 54-53 win over the Beavers Saturday night in Pullman.
I admit that of the two seasons, I’ve enjoyed Washington’s more than Washington State’s. Dawg fans enter every season with unrealistic expectations, and this year they thought they’d be going to the national championship playoffs with a quarterback who could really sling it in Jacob Eason.
He’s just a kid, and from his perspective, I feel bad for him. Growing up in Lake Stevens, going to Georgia, coming home… it had the makings of a great story. But for whatever reason, it hasn’t worked out. Eason is proving that just because a quarterback can throw bullets, it doesn’t guarantee success.
I have no idea if it’s poor decision-making, poor play-calling, poor receivers, poor passes or a combination of everything, but if I’m him, I want no part of this Montlake mess in 2020. I’d rather go to the NFL, make millions and put this ugly chapter behind me.
And by the way, if I’m Jake Browning, Eason’s predecessor, I’m wondering if the same Husky fans who criticized my arm strength miss me now. I think we can agree on this: Eason might have the bigger arm, but Browning was the much better quarterback – for the time being.
The best part of all of this is listening to Husky fans whining about what’s gone wrong, wanting to blame someone, anyone for their bad season. I’ve even heard criticism of head coach Chris Petersen, whose record at Washington is 53-26.
Husky angst is the best kind of angst. All those preseason dreams, poof, gone, just like that. It’s doubly beautiful to watch your biggest rival lose games and complain about it later, as if they’re somehow above losing to so-so teams in the conference. Husky fans act like the Dawgs are winless, which reminds me that they were in 2008, running the table, going 0-12 in the most magical season in the school’s proud history.
It’s Apple Cup week, my favorite week of the year. If we lose the next 10 Apple Cups, it will still be my favorite week of the year. Frankly, I will go to Husky Stadium expecting things to unfold like they have for most of this decade – we’ve lost nine of the last 10 of these suckers. But I want to be there anyway, just in case we win so I can celebrate with my kids and fellow Cougs.
I look for positive signs wherever I can find them, and I see them every week, watching the dysfunctional Husky offense. Then the negative part of me thinks: “Even dysfunctional offenses can score against our defense.”
But here’s a more optimistic note: In 1997, we were seven-point underdogs at Husky Stadium and won 41-35, earning a trip to the Rose Bowl for the first time in 67 years. This year we’re seven-point underdogs again. History, as you know, has a way of repeating itself.