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The Apple Cup live blog: Washington destroys Washington State

The Pac-12 North’s biggest rivalry ends up clinching the division for Stanford.

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Washington State v Washington Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Fourth Quarter

0:00 - UDub 41 Wazzu 14

Falk finally throws a touchdown pass, hitting freshman Davontavean Martin from 33 yards out. Martin does a great job of adjusting on a ball that’s thrown outside of him. He will be a star in Leach’s offense, assuming that Mike doesn’t take one of the several jobs that have been mentioned as potential destinations during this broadcast. Here’s the view that the Wazzu defensive line had all night:

7:29 - UDub 41 Wazzu 7 - The Huskies recover the onside kick and then score a touchdown with the outlandish strategy of handing the ball off to Gaskin three times. Miles now has 192 yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries. Wazzu is putting extra men in the box and it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference. Gaskin is a thousand-yard rusher for the third straight season. Put him in Wisconsin’s offense with the Badgers’ ball distribution and he might approach Ron Dayne numbers.

9:01 - UDub 34 Wazzu 7 - Washington is the best team in the Pac-12 and they aren’t going to play in the conference title game. They brought this on themselves by contriving to lose in Tempe, but I’ll bet you that if you hooked USC fans up to a lie detector, they would say that they are relieved not to be playing this team for the conference title.

Oh, and Washington State finally scored. They put the ball in the end zone after a 15-play drive. They finally blocked Vita Vea, so here’s to small victories.

Third Quarter

0:00 - UDub 34 Wazzu 0 - the only drama left is whether Washington will get the shutout. Falk takes a sack staring at a Mesh concept that he has probably seen thousands of times at Wazzu. After a dropped pass, the Cougars punt to the Huskies, who continue to mash the ball on the ground. So here’s a picture of my kids on a hike in North Cascades National Park:

Seattle is a HIGHLY underrated summer vacation spot. The weather is great. (This hike was the only time in a week that we used our raincoats.) There are three national parks within a two-hour drive, so you can alternate outdoorsy activities with urban fun. And for those of us in landlocked cities, there are ferries!

6:06 - UDub 34 Wazzu 0 - So here’s Kurt Cobain’s guitar from the Seattle Museum of Pop Culture:

Somewhere I have heard this before
In a dream of memory restored
As a defense I'm neutered and spayed
What the hell am I trying to say?

Falk throws another pick. Gaskin scores another touchdown. Washington has outscored Wazzu 124 to 27 in the last two-plus games.

8:45 - UDub 27 Wazzu 0 - Hercules Mata'afa has the best name in college football. He will also not be participating in the rest of this game after he gets called for targeting, prolonging a Husky drive after the Cougars got a rare stop. Later in the drive, Isaac Dotson punches Miles Gaskin in the midsection and the refs decide that boys will be boys, so they call nothing. Vizcaino drills the field goal and the Huskies lead by 27. The potential for a fight has gone up. Can’t wait to see how Vea responds to his quarterback taking a head shot and his running back being punched in the kidneys.

13:40 - UDub 24 Wazzu 0 - “Whoever has the laser, please put it away.” A ref said that, in between Luke Falk sliding short of a first down and then UDub blowing up a WR screen. The second half has begun like the first ended. Purple as far as the eye can see.

Took that picture at Mount Rainier National Park this summer. There cannot be a better part of the country in the summer.

Second Quarter

0:00 - UDub 24 Wazzu 0 - Vita Vea is unblockable, at least for this Washington State team. Wazzu punts from its own one. Washington gets a first down and then turns the drive over to Tristan Vizcaino, who boots a 44-yard field goal just to show that the Huskies have everything. With 90 seconds left, Falk finally hits a few passes, then throws a bad pick under duress by Vea. That’s a third turnover in the half for Falk, who will not be putting this game in a Facebook status update.

Washington is a West Coast Ohio State. When the Huskies have been bad, they’ve been REALLY bad. Most of the rest of the time, they have looked like a Playoff team. If not for the tiebreakers in the Pac-12 and playing their games late at night, the Huskies would be in the Buckeyes’ shoes as a Playoff dark horse.

Rushing yardage in the first half: Huskies 181, Cougars -25. Somewhere, a south Georgia high school coach who was skeptical of the Mumme-Leach offense when they brought it to Valdosta State is feeling validated.

4:51 - UDub 21 Wazzu 0 - Wazzu really needs an answer. Called to the front of the classroom, the Cougars blurt out a first down and then stall when they cannot run for anything close to the two yards they need on third down. Wazzu has no running or deep passing game. The only plays that have produced anything are the short passes. Powell, who has been Wazzu’s best player, then hits a 56-yard punt to pin the Huskies at their own seven. Browning gets Washington some room with a pretty sideline throw to Andre Baccellia, then Gaskin hits a couple big runs. Washngton’s offensive line is kicking all manner of butt. A few runs later and Gaskin is tumbling into the end zone. This is like one of Leach’s games at Texas Tech where his Red Raiders played a much more talented Texas or Oklahoma team and just got whipped up front. This is a compliment to Chris Petersen for getting Washington to that level.

12:34 - UDub 14 Wazzu 0 - UDub’s drive stalls at the 41, so Browning hits a perfect quick kick that the Huskies down at the one-yard line. This game has been a showcase for punting. Wazzu then gets a first down before Falk fumbles. It takes Washington all of two plays to turn the game’s first turnover into a touchdown. This is like every other recent vintage Apple Cup.

The Joe Montana/Kat Dennings ad for Masterpass is playing on a loop on Fox. I keep expecting Montana to break into his Honest Guy persona and talk about how he is going to go upstairs to masturbate.

First Quarter

0:00 - UDub 7 Wazzu 0 - Washington gets one first down to get some room away from their goal line and are then forced to punt. Wazzu starts a promising drive with a pair of first downs, but then a sack is followed by a horrendous throw by Falk into ... lots of defenders. Washington hits a WR screen down to the five, but a holding penalty brings it back. Huskies have the ball at midfield at the end of the first quarter. Cougars are still without a first quarter touchdown in Seattle since 2007.

6:38 - UDub 7 Wazzu 0 - The teams trade three-and-outs. Luke Falk still doesn’t have time to throw, but the Cougars finally have something good happen when Erik Powell hits a line-drive punt that dies on the Huskies’ one-yard line. Wazzu was aided on the play by the Huskies’ normal returner Dante Pettis being out with an ankle injury.

8:28 - UDub 7 Wazzu 0 - That was quick. Wazzu’s first drive goes nowhere. We’re on immediate blow-out alert. On a happier note, the Apple Cup is sponsored by Boeing, which I love because if any company is going to slap its name on a game, it should be one with a local presence. In homage, here’s a shot of a B-29 from the Boeing Museum that I snapped this summer. Anyone want to debate the merits of the dropping of the atomic bombs or the strategic bombing campaign against Japan? We might need to go that route if Wazzu doesn’t start playing.

9:25 - UDub 7 Wazzu 0 - the Huskies have a perfect opening drive, predominantly on the ground. They face only one third down - a third and three - and put the ball into the end zone thanks to a short Miles Gaskin run. After one drive, this game seems like a continuation of the last two years. Bad news for the Cougars.

The game is only kicking off at 8:15, so the wife and I are explaining jewelry commercials to our kids. I referred to shiny gifts after a certain period of marriage as “maintenance jewelry.” Need to remember that line for the future. Also, we’re going with the Falcons pint glasses for the Dark & Stormies in honor of Blair Walsh.

Pregame

When Mike Leach came to Pullman, Washington State had not had a winning season in its last eight. The Cougars were coming out of the disastrous Paul Wulff era, in which the team won nine games in four years. Washington State has won as many games this season and tonight, it goes for the Pac-12 North title in Seattle against arch-rival Washington.

The Huskies are one year removed from a Pac-12 championship and a Playoff berth. They have had another excellent season, as they rank sixth nationally in S&P+, but two losses - most notably an inexplicable setback in Tempe - mean that Chris Petersen’s team can do nothing more than play the role of spoiler.

S&P+ likes the odds of the Huskies to do just that, making Washington a 10.4-point favorite. Part of the reason is that Washington State’s 9-2 record is a little soft. One-third of its wins have come in instances in which Wazzu’s win expectancy was below 50%. This is also an odd Mike Leach team, one whose offense ranks behind its defense. One wonders how Leach will coax points out of his attack when they are going against the #3 defense according to S&P+. It’s also worth noting that after winning his first Apple Cup, Leach has lost the last four, all by double digits.

As for the cultural context, let Brian Floyd’s excellent piece on the rivalry set the scene:

As you leave Seattle and head east on Interstate 90, cutting through the Cascade Mountains, you’ll notice the scenery changing. The range, which extends from Canada to California, serves as a natural dividing line in the state: East and west; rainy and arid; urban and rural; Huskies and Cougars. There’s a tension between the two sides of the state in politics, environment, and lifestyle.

Fittingly for a game on the rainy side of the state, the forecast tonight in Seattle is for rain.