The Washington State Cougars might have brought a record-setting offense into Husky Stadium but it didn’t make one bit of difference as the Washington Huskies once again shut down the Air Raid and walked away with the Apple Cup, 31-13.
The Cougars finish their season 6-6 and await their bowl fate, which will be announced on Dec. 8.
The game started about as well as it possibly could have. First, the Cougs received to open the game and proceeded to methodically drove right down the field for a touchdown — 81 yards in 13 plays with the longest play being a 16-yard swing pass to Max Borghi to convert one of the two third downs on the drive. Borghi paid it off with a 1-yard run:
The defense then did something we haven’t seen much this year: Hold a team to a three-and-out. Willie Taylor III played like a man possessed, sacking Jacob Eason on the first drop back and then hitting him on the other two as the Huskies misfired three times.
However, good times never last in the Apple Cup, and the defense reverted to its usual M.O. — following a short running play, Eason found Terrell Bynum over the top for 57 yards. A couple of runs later, Washington faced 3rd-and-1 from the 3-yard line — and then this somehow happened:
That’s a new one, even for our defense.
The Cougs tried to answer back, and they did put together another long drive that was keyed by a 22-yard connection from Gordon to Renard Bell on a crossing route that took it down inside the UW 10. Bell couldn’t recreate the magic a couple of plays later when Gordon hit him in the chest on a quick slant that Bell never saw, and two plays later, WSU settled for a Blake Mazza field goal.
Settling for that field goal was the beginning of the game slipping away.
Washington didn’t find the going quite as easy next drive, but they scored a touchdown anyway, thanks to a horrendous defensive pass interference call on 3rd-and-13 early in the series. As this defense has shown many times, it’s sometimes good enough to make a drive-ending play once, but surely not good enough to do it twice, and the drive was capped by a 10-yard fade from Eason to his favorite target, Bynum.
Up until that point, when the Cougars had the ball, Washington had been content to play a soft zone and rush three, and WSU had been content to pick it apart for short gains. As we have found out over the last half decade, that only works so long as your five guys can block their three guys. So of course the Huskies got home with three twice on the Cougars’ next drive to put them in a 3rd-and-27 hole from their own 3-yard line that could have easily ended up as a safety if the refs had been inclined to throw a holding flag in the end zone.
With a short field, Washington scored easily on the next drive, ending with a run that any one of us could have punched in:
And that was that. Game over. Seven in a row.
Of course, there was more game after that. Washington scored some more points, and there was a point where it looked like the Cougars could get back in the game when they forced a turnover down 28-13. But that drive ended with a Deon McIntosh fumble in the red zone. The defense forced a punt by Washington on the next drive, but the Cougars’ ensuing possession ended with Gordon’s second interception.
In fact, UW ended up gaining fewer than 400 yards, the first time that’s happened since they limited Colorado to 320 yards. But it mattered not, given the offensive ineptitude. Perhaps no stat tells the story quite as well as this one: In five trips into the red zone, WSU came away with just 13 points.
Gordon finished with 308 yards on 62 passes with no touchdowns. Sigh.