The Apple Cup Makes its Return


Marie Gabalis

WSU’s fans stormed the field after knocking off Washington

Trevor Butler, Sports Editor

Thanksgiving Day means it’s about time for the biggest rivalry in Washington’s football scene, The Apple Cup. In almost every year since 1900, the Huskies and Cougars have faced off, with the Huskies leading the series 74-32-6 going into the game. Over the last 10 years, the Huskies had dominated the matchup, winning 9 out of 10. In 2016, the #5 ranked Huskies beat up on the #23 ranked Cougars 45-17 behind QB Jake Browning’s 3 TDs en route to a playoff appearance as the #4 seed. 2018’s edition saw UW continue their winning streak and crush WSU’s playoffs hopes, winning 28-15 in a snow-covered Pullman. The series has featured many close fought battles, as well as its fair share of blowouts. It has even featured some ties. Before 1996, NCAA games could end in a tie, with such a result happening 6 times in the series including three 0-0 ties, the last coming in 1942. The Huskies had the ability to tie the longest Apple Cup winning streak with a win on Friday, rivaling their two separate eight-game streaks from 1959-1966 and 1974-1981. 

This year’s edition of the Apple Cup featured a special bit of trivia. With no Apple Cup last season due to COVID-19, the mid-season firings of Nick Rolovich and Jimmy Lake mean that even though they both coached in 2 seasons for their schools, neither ever coached in the rivalry matchup. 

UW came into the matchup sitting at 4-7, needing a win to even believe they could make a bowl game. With not enough teams sitting at 6 wins, 5-win teams could have a chance at making a bowl game based on academic accomplishments. The Huskies had dropped 3 in a row coming into the Apple Cup, as well as dropping their season opener to the FCS Montana Grizzlies. 

WSU came in at 6-5, looking to solidify a winning record in a season filled with ups and downs. The Cougs lost 3 of their first 4 games of the season, including a season opening loss to Group of 5 Utah State. But they rattled off 3 straight wins to right the ship in Pullman, only stopped by a 2-point loss to a ranked BYU team, 21-19. They prefaced the Apple Cup by beating a struggling Arizona team. 

The day was wet and rainy at Husky Stadium, and WSU would be getting the ball first. They promptly marched down the field, going 75 yards in 7 plays, capped off by a 32-yard touchdown run by RB Max Borghi. A good kickoff pinned the Huskies deep at their own 13, and they couldn’t do much from there. They punted back to the Cougars, who tackled a field goal on to make it 10-0 after a 6-minute drive.  

Back-to-back drives ending in punts ended the first quarter, with the Huskies getting the ball back with 12 minutes to go in the second quarter. First and second down saw a net gain of 1 yard, and on third down Sam Huard threw his first interception of the day, setting WSU up on Washington’s 34-yard line. The drive ended with Dean Janikowski’s second field goal of the day, giving WSU a 13-0 advantage. UW answered with a touchdown of their own, going 75 yards in 5 minutes. The drive was finished with a Kamari Pleasant 10-yard touchdown run. The first half ended with a missed field goal from Janikowski, leaving the score at 13-7 going to the half. 

A Husky punt opened the third quarter, which was promptly met with a 10 play, 78-yard drive that took nearly 6 minutes off the clock for the Cougs, which was finished off with Max Borghi’s second touchdown of the afternoon. UW got the ball back, and after only 48 seconds off the clock, Huard had tossed his second INT of the game. The WSU field goal that followed made it a 23-7 ballgame, and the Huskies would need an answer to keep their hopes alive. Things looked bright, as Huard opened the drive with a 55-yard dime to WR Rome Odunze, setting UW up in the red zone at WSU’s 18-yard line. But on the next play, Huard’s pass was intercepted for the third time. The INT was taken to UW’s 29, setting up the Cougars to possibly put the game away. 

The Cougars were still driving as the fourth quarter began and after only 37 seconds off the clock in the fourth, Deon McIntosh punched in a TD to make the score 30-7 in favor of WSU. It looked like the Cougs would finally exercise the Apple Cup demons that had plagued them for years. Washington got the ball back, and pieced together a solid drive, going 50 yards in just over 2 minutes. They couldn’t convert the 2-point conversion, but the Huskies had taken a bite out of Washington State’s lead with the score sitting at 30-13. WSU followed up with another field goal, their fourth of the day, making it 33-13. Washington got the ball back with 8 and a half minutes remaining, needing another good drive to stay in it. But WSU DB Armani Marsh was in the right place at the right time, snagging a tip-drill interception and taking it 28 yards to put an exclamation mark on the Cougars win. Washington punted the ball away on their next possession, and just like that, it was over. Final score: Cougars 40, Huskies 13.  

“It was probably one of the most painful things I’ve watched,” Mr. Blair said. “A small part of me is happy for the Cougars though.” 

“I hated it. I hated every part of it. It was terrible. The Huskies are terrible. I’m embarrassed to be a Husky. I didn’t watch the whole thing I was so disgusted by it,” Mr. Bonner said. “I had low expectations going into it because we’ve had a bad season. I will say, as much as I love the Huskies, I was a little bit happy for the Cougars. They needed to celebrate; it was kind of fun to see them celebrate. I’m not bitter so I was kind of happy for them in that regard.”  

Nico Omega had some thoughts on Max Borghi, who he called a “college Christian McCaffrey.” Omega noted that Borghi “beat up the Huskies defense.” He watched the game along with his father and friends who were Huskies fans. 

When the game ended, the Cougar faithful rushed the field at Husky Stadium. They went wild as QB Jayden de Laura planted a Cougars flag right on top of the Huskies logo at the 50-yard line. The TV crew at FOX even caught a fan wearing a Texas Longhorns hat celebrating in the melee. WSU grad Mr. Hogan was ecstatic after the game. “I was actually at the game and I helped storm the field which was kinda cool. The Cougs have struggled in the Apple Cup for a long time so it was nice to get one. Storming the field was super exciting. I ran into a bunch of fellow Cougs that I went to school with so it was kinda cool to have a reunion at such an exciting time. It’s just a rush getting to storm an opposing team’s field cause it’s like a sign of dominance.” Hogan said.  

Sophomore Nate Staudinger was also at the game supporting the Huskies. “It was pretty tough with the loss but the Cougars haven’t won in like 9 years so I guess it’s not too bad,” Staudinger said. He didn’t mind when the Cougars stormed the field. “If we had been in a 10-year drought against them, we would have done the same thing.” 

Finally, the Cougars had gotten the best of their cross-state rival, and they did it in emphatic fashion. De Laura finished the day at 27/32 with 245 passing yards, while Max Borghi accounted for most of the scoring, running for 129 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Cougars now await bowl season, while the Huskies finish off the year at 4-8, their first losing season since 2009.