Good morning. It’s officially rivalry week in these parts, as your Washington State Cougars football team will soon make the bi-annual trek over the Cascade Mountains to face the always-hated, often overrated - even though they always murder WSU - Washington Huskies. While scores of Cougar fans look forward to this game, I absolutely hate it. But before we get to that, let’s take a look at what happened this weekend throughout the conference.
As you’re all aware, the Cougs sat idle this week, hopefully taking advantage of the rest to heal, recruit, and dial-up some surprises for the Huskies. There was some drama throughout the conference, though, as one team’s win eliminated another from the title race, a quarterback returned after a prolonged absence, and a coach almost singlehandedly cost his team a chance to pick up a huge road win. Here’s a brief recap of what went on Saturday.
ASU 40, OSU: 24 - Didn’t take the Sun Devils long to put this one in the cooler, as they led 23-0 six seconds into the second quarter, then put it on cruise control. The only reason this doesn’t look as bad as it was is because the Beavers scored a couple late touchdowns against the ASU training staff. I’ll admit to thinking OSU actually had a shot to win this one. Instead, they’re careening down the path toward Pettibone Gulch.
Oregon 48, Arizona 28 - Welcome back, Justin Herbert. The redshirt sophomore returned from a prolonged injury absence to help hang almost half-a-hundred on RichRod and the Wildcats. While Herbert’s stats don’t look eye-popping, it’s easy to see the confidence he brings out in the rest of the offense. It doesn’t hurt that he’s got some guy named Freeman standing next to him. Oh, and if you’re an AD with either a coaching vacancy or a pending one, PLEASE HIRE JIM LEAVITT THANK YOU IN ADVANCE.
USC 28, UCLA 23 - This was a USC game we’ve seen so many times. They should have won by 21, yet wandered aimlessly through 60 minutes of play, seemingly in absence of any game plan and giving very little effort. UCLA gives up a staggering 289 rushing yards per game, and 5.7 YPC. You’re likely aware that USC has one of the best running backs in the conference in Ronald Jones. So of course USC screws around, averages 3.7 YPC and has to recover an onside kick to clinch the win. Clay Helton is in so far over his head.
Stanford 17, Cal 14 - It’s fitting that the weekend’s biggest snoozefest took place in the conference’s sleepiest venue. As I watched Stanford stumble its way through this game, my only thought was, “These guys beat Washington? How?” Bryce Love limped his way through the game, but had just enough to to break a long touchdown run that proved to be the difference. The real star of the game was Cal’s Patrick Laird, who rushed for 153 yards on just 20 carries. Despite that, the Cardinal were able to eke out a win, eliminating Washington from Pac-12 North title contention. Speaking of which...
Washington 33, Utah 30 - Washington fans knew midway through the game that their flickering hopes of a Pac-12 North title were extinguished. That didn’t seem to affect the team, though, as the Huskies pulled off quite the rally, scoring 10 points in the final minute to win 33-30. How did Utah surrender 10 points in the final minute? Well, there are many reasons I guess, but there’s really only one. Kyle Whittingham, come on down.
You know that joke about the guy who built 1,000 bridges? Yep, that applies here. The perennially-overrated guy on the Utah sidelines hand-carried a win over to Chris Peterson. Despite giving up a 61-yard drive in 65 seconds to tie the game (on which they of course got insanely lucky as Jake Browning was hemmed in for a 20-yard loss but banked a throw off a lineman), and despite doing nothing on the next possession, all Utah had to do was make a tackle and wait for OT.
But no. Despite the fact that Utah had no chance of getting the ball back (20 seconds left, only two timeouts), dumbdumb Kyle called timeout, giving UW another shot downfield which the Huskies gladly took, as Jake Browning made a couple clutch throws and UW’s pretty bad kicker drilled the game-winner. Here’s what Kyle said after he lost the game for his team:
“In hindsight, I probably wouldn't have called the timeout.”
Gee, YA THINK??!!
I assume most of you are like me, in that you never want UW to win anything ever. From that standpoint, this game was somewhat of a disappointment, even though it didn’t have any title implications. But that probably pales in comparison to the frustration of Utah fans, who now have to beat Colorado in that artificially-created rivalry game with a dumb name just to qualify for a bowl. You have one job, Whittingham. Stop screwing it up.
Now we’re on to the week I absolutely hate. After the utter debacles of 2014, 2015 and 2016, I gave up any realistic hope of watching my Cougars beat Washington ever again. It’s somewhat liberating, as I can just sit there and take the 28-point beating without getting worked up.
But of course, once again, WSU should have a legitimate shot to win this game. They have good team, and UW isn’t anything special. I also realize that every season, and every renewal of this rivalry is unique. It’s just that every unique meeting turns out the same way. Even so, I know you’ll all be there along with me, watching and hoping that the Cougs actually show up and compete, which would be a stark departure from the last three meetings.
It’s Apple Cup week. WSU has everything to play for. Washington is nothing special. There are no excuses this time. Go Cougs.
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