Football was a very different sport back in the early 20th century. By 1929, the forward pass was only a couple of decades old. Leather helmets were still in use and these was still just one post season bowl game in college football.
But one thing was familiar: The Cougars and Huskies were still matching up on the gridiron.
This Friday, the two teams will meet for the 112th time in Seattle. But for today’s post, I wanted to take a look back at the 23rd meeting between the cross state rivals from all the way back in 1929.
Why 1929? Because it’s the oldest video between I could find from the series.
Every Apple Cup week, I’m drawn to the expansive archive put together by the Washington State University Libraries to relive some of the history from the rivalry. On their website, the library’s department of manuscripts, archives and collections has an archive of close to 800 different games, all digitized and uploaded to YouTube. While the oldest game dates back to the 1916 Rose Bowl, the oldest Washington vs. Washington State matchup is that 1929 game in Pullman.
So let’s hop in the time machine back to a time when gas cost just $.20 a gallon and the first ever Oscar for best picture was awarded to a film called Wings, which came out two years earlier.
The first thing you’ll notice is the two minutes at the front of the clip showing the campus of Washington State College from 90 years ago and, more importantly, the fashion from 90 years ago. Ah, a simpler time... Where you always had to wear a full suit and hat.
The game action starts at the 2:11... And it looks a great deal different than the Mike Leach air raid of 2019.
The Washington State team from 1929 was among the best in the short history of the program up to that point. That year, the Cougars finished 10-2, losing those two games on the road to USC and Cal. The team was led by legendary head coach Babe Hollingbery and featured future NFL star Mel Hein. The pair would lead WSC to the Rose Bowl just one season later.
But this matchup with Washington took place as just the fourth game of the season. The Cougs, who had just lost on the road in Berkeley, were just looking for a bounce back win at home.
So how did it go? Let’s get the game recap from the October 21, 1929 edition of the Washington State Evergreen from beat writer Ray Sandegren.
Little Archie Buckley and his Cougar warrior confederates blazed their way to long lasting glory last Saturday by completely squelching the unsupported Purple Tornado of the University of Washington 20 t o13 (sic).
Why don’t newspaper columnists write as eloquently anymore?
Playing before a Homecoming crowd of approximately 16,000 frenzied fans, Washington State’s crimson horde, after starting the fracas in a most ragged manner, made a comeback, led by the diminutive Buckley, that has been unparalleled in Cougar football history. Trailing 13 points behind the Huskies at the end of the first quarter, Coach Hollingbery’s gridders staged a ferocious drive down the field that culminated in the first Cougar tally and a similar brand of ball in the second half tells the story of the well-earned victory
I think I’m going to start a change.org petition to bring back the term “gridders.”
The recap went on to say that the 20 points recorded by Washington State was a record for a Cougar squad playing against UW, a record that would stand for 20 years. In fact, Washington State didn’t score into the 30’s until the 1976 game.
In that 1929 game, the Cougars fell behind 13-0 after the first quarter, but went on to score 20 unanswered in the 20-13 victory.
I tried to find stats from the games but, predictably, fell short. The best I could do was that recap from the Washington State Evergreen. According to the recap, WSC recorded 192 yards of offense and 10 first downs. They also attempted six passes “pompleting” (sic) two. Meanwhile, UW recorded 116 yards from scrimmage while attempting 9 passing for 3 completions.
Numbers are great, but the descriptions of the game from Sandegren are much better. As mentioned above, the Cougs were led by Archie Buckley who was “Hollingbery’s 150-pound field general.” He entered the game early in the second quarter and “dynamited his chargers to the first Cougar touchdown.” I’m not 100 percent sure what that means, but I think it’s good!
As for the Huskies, they were led by sophomore halfback Merle Hufford who was “outstanding for the men from the Coast and fell just a little short of reaching Buckley’s popularity as the hero of the day.”
The Cougars won the matchup in 1929 and went on to pick up another win in 1930. The first time they had won back-to-back matchups in the series, and one of just eight times it has happened since.
The history behind the Apple Cup is among the most fun part of the rivalry and it’s always fun to look back at matchups like this one. If you want to take a closer look at the long history between UW and WSU, check out the video archive from the WSU library here, and the news coverage archive from the WSU library here.
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