The Apple Cup is a game that both the Washington Huskies and Washington State Cougars automatically circle on their calendars when the schedule comes out. There’s even more at stake for this year’s meeting, as the Pac-12 North crown will be decided on the field.
The two nationally-ranked rivals have high hopes for Bowl season, and this contest will go a long way towards deciding where they wind up. Let’s take a look at this matchup in full detail, starting with the game line.
Washington @ Washington State, 8:30 PM EST, FOX
Washington vs. Washington State pick:
What’s at stake is pretty cut and dry: the winner takes down the Pac-12 North division and will play in next week’s conference championship game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. The loser will have some extra time off and patiently wait for a Bowl game invite.
While two games separate these two rivals on an overall basis, it’s just a single game as far as the conference goes. This year’s edition of the Apple Cup shapes up to be one the more thrilling ones in recent years.
|Teams||Record||Conf. Rec.||PF||PA||Streak||Standings||CFP Rank|
|Washington State||10-1||7-1||445||249||W7||1-P12 North||8|
The Huskies took on a tough schedule for 2018. They faced off with Auburn in the season opener on a neutral field in Atlanta, and they came up on the wrong side of a 21-16 final score. Close losses to Oregon and Cal round out the sour notes for Washington, who have big wins over squads such as Utah and BYU on their resume.
Washington State’s lone blemish came early in the season to USC. Outside of that, the Cougars have been rolling. They are currently riding a seven-game winning streak, including last week’s 69-28 thrashing of Arizona. Washington State flies under the radar in comparison to programs in the eastern part of the country, but pollsters have finally started giving them their due.
Washington’s calling card is a balanced offensive attack with a stout defense. Senior QB Jake Browning has had a bit of a disappointing season with just 16 TDs versus eight picks on the year. Much more was expected of him entering the season, but perhaps he’s rounding into form off of his three-touchdown outing last week against Oregon State.
Washington State is not having any problems at the quarterback position, as senior signal caller Gardner Minshew has been absolutely stellar with 39 total touchdowns and seven interceptions on the year. The Cougars are no slouches on the defensive front, and the unit does an outstanding job of pressuring opposing quarterbacks.
This rivalry traces its roots all the way back to 1900. The two schools have met 110 times in total, with Washington holding an all-time series edge of 72-32-6. The Huskies have had clear control over the past decade with an 8-2 mark overall and a record of 7-3 against the spread. The Over has been the correct call only four times over that timeframe, and just twice in the past five years.
Last season, the Huskies were 41-14 home victors in a game in which they were favored by 9.5 points. Last year’s projected total of 49 points is in the same neighborhood as the 49.5 points projected total for this year’s edition of the Apple Cup.
Washington is riding a five-game winning streak in the series, and five of the last six margins of victory have been 10 points are more. While that’s obviously a big check mark in the positive column for the Huskies, the Cougars have closed the talent gap substantially.
Quite simply, Washington State is the best team in the nation west of the Mississippi at this point, and the pollsters concur with that assessment. However, Washington is next up on that list in the eyes of the College Football Playoff committee, and there’s not a major disparity in talent between the two rivals.
The rivalry makes for a fitting backdrop to a game that will decide the Pac-12 North this season. Utah awaits the winner for next week’s title tilt. For Washington State, that could be another stepping stone to bigger and better things.
While they would need a lot of help to make it happen, they could conceivably have shot at the playoffs if everything breaks just right. Washington’s three losses preclude them from that conversation, but a Pac-12 title game appearance would still portend a primo Bowl spot at the end of the year.
From a bottom line perspective, Washington State has just been the better squad on an overall basis in 2018. The concern comes with Washington’s stout defense. If they can disrupt the Cougars high-powered passing attack, then the Cougars better overall performance on the season won’t mean a thing. We’ll look for the hosts to do just enough to pull out a close victory and advance to the Pac-12 title game.
We’ll take Washington State minus the points.