Happy Apple Cup Friday to you, Followers. Hope you had a terrific Thanksgiving!
Today our young men take on the mighty Washington Huskies in a game that will serve as a coming out party (of sorts) for the victors. To check out my prediction for the final game of the regular season, click on the jump.
Followers, after last week’s win over Utah, I thought that this year’s Apple Cup would be the most inconsequential for me in some time. Of course, by Wednesday, I was already fired up. Last night, I was beside myself. Today, I already feel sick to my stomach.
Yep, it’s the same as it ever was….
And because of the fact that I always get so emotional about this game, it usually is VERY difficult for me to pick against the Cougs—even if I think that we are going to get slaughtered.
But today, I have to tell you right out that I don’t think we’re going to win this game. And before I give you the final score, Iafew “deep thoughts:”
First and foremost, this year’s Washington team feels different to me. Whereas last year’s team, for example, had some big upset victories over Oregon State and Stanford, those victories felt like games where the Huskies played at the top of their games while the opponent played just about as bad as they can play. And ditto for the Huskies teams of previous years: At the end of the day, I never felt like they were any good.
In contrast, this year’s Husky team feels legit to me. In fact, I’d say that they are a “great” team.
Of course, the reason why I can’t say that is because they aren’t great—as manifest in their 7-4 record. And the reason why they aren’t great is because they haven’t put it all together between the ears. And so, when trying to handicap this game one has to wonder “who the real dawgs are”—are they the team that rolled Boise State and Oregon State—and the one who simply ran out of time against Stanford? Or are they the team that struggled a bit against a 4-7 Illinois team and got slammed by Oregon and Arizona State?
And then you have the Cougs. And when you look at us, if you’re a Husky fan, you have to be scared to death. I mean, out of our five losses, four are to teams that are currently ranked in the top 13 in the BCS. On top of that, while most .500 in college football generate most of their wins at home, 3 out of our four conference wins came on the road—two of which came against Bowl eligible teams. What’s more, as evident over the past couple of weeks, this WSU team has shown itself to be pretty steely in close games. I mean, if you look at our record in games decided by 14 or fewer points, we are 3-1. And, of course, that one loss came on the road against #4 Auburn when we drove the ball twice into their redzone in the game’s final minutes.
So, when I put all of those little tidbits together—and when I consider that this team absolutely thinks that they WILL win today (and knows that they can do so by coming from behind)—well, I think that the Dawgs are going to have to put us away early in order to regain that Apple Cup trophy.
And in the end, I think that is going to happen. I think the Dawgs are going to jump out to a 14-0 or 14-3 lead early on and never look back. And while I am confident in our offense’s ability to move the ball if the game is within a possession or two, I think that the Dawgs are going to do too much in the passing game for us to slow them down, and by extension, keep the game within striking distance. And sadly, after we get down a few scores, I fear that the “Bad Connor” is going to try to get too much back too quick—and we all know what that looks like.
So, my prediction is that this thing is going to be Ugly for us early and often and we are going to lose something to the tune of 48-24.
That said, if we are able to keep this game close through two quarters, we will win. Because once you get past the opening surge that home field advantage provides, I think we’ll be the looser team—if not the more confident one. I just hope we can find a way to weather the storm.
Elsewhere (no scores, because I am running out the door to Little Sutra’s basketball game).
UCLA over USC
Colorado over Utah
Arizona State over Arizona
Oregon over Oregon State
Stanford over Notre Dame
Enjoy the game—and even if we get lit today—let us not lose sight of how far we’ve come.
All for now. Go Cougs.