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The joy and despair of Black Friday

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Everybody chill.

NCAA Football: Washington State at Washington Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Back in October, after witnessing our Washington State Cougars lose in the last minute to the Arizona State Sun Devils, I was visiting with my uncle in a Phoenix suburb. He’s a huge California Golden Bears fan. Always has been. Even stayed up late to see them beat the Washington Huskies after that lightning-delayed game in September. Owned season tickets for years even when he lived in Arizona. Stayed up many times to watch the Cal softball team once the Pac-12 Network launched. Taught his grandkids the Cal fight song.

He and I have shared a similar love-hate relationship with college sports. Cal hasn’t exactly been world beaters in the major sports over the years, much like Washington State, but they’ve had their fair share of success, like us. After the loss to Arizona State, I mentioned to him that I am beginning to wonder why I put so much emotional energy into a game played by college students. I will always support Washington State, but man do the highs and low pull me in all sorts of directions.

My uncle lamented that he’s worried he won’t see Cal in a Rose Bowl in his lifetime (he was way too young to remember their 1959 appearance). He admitted his fandom has simmered in recent years—not to the extent that he stopped donating and watching, though. Our reactions to the wins and losses are much more subdued and we don’t get too high, and we don’t get too low. We still support our schools however we can, but we don’t get too emotional. There are more important things than a game played by kids for our entertainment.

When we pulled it out late to beat the Oregon State Beavers last week, I was thrilled, but I wasn’t run-around-the-house-screaming thrilled like I was when we beat Utah in 2014. I wasn’t hugging random strangers like the 2017 win over USC. When we lost to the UCLA Bruins this season, I wasn’t the silent, angry fan like I was after the 2014 loss to Cal. I got over it pretty quickly because, what else was I going to do?

Which brings me to yesterday.

This is seven straight Apple Cup losses. That’s no fun, but I also can’t get too worked up about it. Not when we’ve had the success of the last five seasons, bigger picture and all. I know there are some who would trade it all for an Apple Cup win, but that’s so shortsighted and soft.

As soon as the Apple Cup ended, my attention switched rather quickly to the soccer game. Washington State was in Columbia, S.C. to take on the South Carolina Gamecocks in the Elite Eight. A first-ever trip to the College Cup was at stake. Of course, the match went to overtime because sports don’t care about my heart health.

When Mykiaa Minniss scored in overtime, all the joy in the world returned, and we were headed to the College Cup! It’s was an incredible swing of emotions for me, seeing WSU’s most consistently successful athletic teams punch its ticket to the Final Four:

Yes, we lost the Apple Cup, but we still have a bowl game coming up. We’re also going to the College Cup.

I thought of my uncle after Minniss’ game-winner. He’d be in my shoes had it been Cal in that game. We’re fans of our school no matter the team or the sport because we love our university.

Winning is fun. Losing isn’t. But the sun still came up today.

I’m off to put up the Christmas lights.

Go Cougs.

Links

Futbol

College Cup Bound - Washington State University Athletics
Mykiaa Minniss was golden to send the Cougs past No. 5 South Carolina, 1-0.

Washington State soccer sinks South Carolina with overtime goal, advances to Final Four of NCAA Women’s College Cup | The Spokesman-Review
WSU (16-6-1) will face top-seeded North Carolina (23-1-1) on Friday in San Jose, California for a berth to the national title game. Pac-12 rivals Stanford and UCLA meet in the other semifinal.

Football

TV Take: Mike Leach, Jimmy Lake take center stage in Washington’s latest Apple Cup beatdown of Washington State | The Spokesman-Review
There have been 112 Apple Cups and, no, Tim Brando hasn’t called them all. It just seems that way.

Recap and highlights: Washington beats Washington State in 112th Apple Cup | The Spokesman-Review
The Washington defense held senior Anthony Gordon to 308 passing yards, which were enough to vault him past 5,000 for the season but not enough for the Washington State offense to get a win, and the Huskies won the Apple Cup for the seventh time in a row, 31-13 on Friday in Seattle.

Analysis: Washington employs a familiar strategy to manufacture a similar result against Washington State in 31-13 Apple Cup win | The Spokesman-Review
There wasn’t a Shelton, a Qualls, a Vea or a Gaines playing on Washington’s defensive line Friday afternoon. The Huskies still got all the pressure they needed; and then some.

Difference makers: Hunter Bryant sparks Washington offense, defense makes timely plays in victory over Washington State | The Spokesman-Review
Difference makers from Washington’s 31-13 victory over Washington State in the 112th Apple Cup in Seattle

Washington State WR Brandon Arconado doesn’t return to field after suffering apparent wrist injury | The Spokesman-Review
For the second straight game, Washington State’s Brandon Arconado took an early trip to the injury tent and missed the remainder of the first half after an apparent injury to the same left wrist that forced him to leave the Cougars’ 54-53 win over Oregon State.

Washington State’s Anthony Gordon becomes 13th QB in college football history to throw for 5,000 yards in single season | The Spokesman-Review
Gordon came into the Apple Cup needing just 80 yards to become the 13th QB to pass for 5,000 in a single season. It was a small amount for the nation’s leading passer, averaging 447.2 per game, and Gordon didn’t waste too much time eclipsing 5,000 against UW.

Mike Leach, Washington State end first-quarter touchdown drought in Apple Cup | The Spokesman-Review
Anthony Gordon completed nine of his first 10 passes and handed off to his roommate, sophomore running back Max Borghi, on the 1-yard line to put the Cougars up 7-0 after just six minutes of Friday’s game at Husky Stadium.

Another Apple Cup, another defensive coup for the Huskies and Jimmy Lake’s defense | The Seattle Times
If ever there was going to be a time, this was it, with the Huskies beset by inconsistency and untimely breakdowns all season. But there it played out again on...

UW Huskies bring both bark and bite to win seventh straight Apple Cup over WSU | The Seattle Times
For a few fleeting moments, it looked like this might be the year the Cougars finally snap their Apple Cup losing streak. But the Washington Huskies snuffed out those hopes...

After promising start, it’s the same old Apple Cup story for the Cougars in crushing loss to Washington | The Seattle Times
It looked like this year might be different for the WSU Cougars, until it wasn't.

WSU coach Mike Leach calls media member a ‘sanctimonious troll’ in rant after Apple Cup loss | The Seattle Times
Mike Leach called Spokesman-Review columnist John Blanchette a "sanctimonious troll" in response to a question about why his Cougars have failed to beat the Huskies in seven straight seasons.

Apple Cup stays with Washington after 31-13 win over Wazzu - Washington State University Athletics
Quarterback Anthony Gordon becomes the 16th player in NCAA FBS history to pass for more than 5,000 yards in a season.

Excerpt: Washington State coach Mike Leach’s postgame exchange with Spokesman-Review columnist John Blanchette | The Spokesman-Review
The following is an excerpt from Friday’s Apple Cup postgame news conference in which Washington State coach Mike Leach took exception to a question from Spokesman-Review columnist John Blanchette.

John Blanchette: Washington happy to let Mike Leach keep getting in Washington State’s way at Apple Cup | The Spokesman-Review
Sometime in the second half of Friday’s Apple Cup, a Fox camera zeroed in on a couple in the stands, the female decked out in Husky purple, the male in all Coug attire.

Basketball

Women’s Basketball Falls to No. 5/6 South Carolina in Day Two of the Paradise Jam - Washington State University Athletics
The Cougs battle, but fall to their second top-five opponent in as many days. Washington State closes out the Paradise Jam on Saturday at 2:45 p.m. against No. 17/23