BY SPNW Staff 11:05AM 11/23/2011

Apple Cup: 10 Best Games — If You’re A Cougar

We have recapped 10 memorable Washington State victories in the Apple Cup. Help us select which of these Cougars victories ranks as the most memorable.

Drew Bledsoe played his signature game of his Washington State career in the 1992 Apple Cup in Pullman. / Washington State University photo

Washington State defeated Washington 31 times in 103 meetings (the schools have played to six ties) and currently has a two-game losing streak to the Huskies, whom they meet for the 104th time Saturday at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.

Trying to narrow down the list of Washington State’s most memorable wins is difficult, but not impossible. Here are 10 from the modern era (since 1960) that Cougar fans still talk about.

They are presented chronologically. We ask you to vote on the one most memorable to you. If there is a game memorable for you that we have not listed, please add it to our comments section.

BEST GAMES IF YOU’RE A COUGAR

WSU 24, UW 0 / NOV. 23, 1968 / JOE ALBI STADIUM

Hank Grenda, a 6-2, 200-pounder from Burnaby, B.C., accounted for all the Cougars’ points in a 24-0 victory by scoring a TD on a quarterback sneak, passing for two others and kicking a 26-yard field goal and three extra points. Grenda also did all of WSU’s punting, amassing a Cougar record 407 yards in the process. One of Grenda’s TD passes, to Freddy Moore, covered 65 yards, the ninth-longest such play in Apple Cup history. It marked Washington State’s first shutout of Washington since 1948.

WSU 27, UW 10 / NOV. 18, 1972 / JOE ALBI STADIUM

Washington State made Sonny Sixkiller’s final game a nightmare as the Cougars scored a 27-10 victory in Spokane. The Cougars botched three short field goal attempts and were flagged seven times, but still had no problem beating the Huskies as they sacked Sixkiller seven times and intercepted him three times. One overly amped Cougar, Gary Larsen, rubbed it in by performing a sack dance over a prostrate Sixkiller, playing in his final college game.

WSU 52, UW 26 / NOV. 24, 1973 / HUSKY STADIUM

Washington State’s Andrew Jones ran for 139 yards and scored touchdowns on runs of 12, 1 and 62 yards as the Cougars rolled to a 28-0 lead in a festival of points that still stands as WSU’s best offensive game of the rivalry. Jones’ performance negated UW quarterback’s Chris Rowland’s spectacular day, 354 yards and three 3 touchdown passes.

WSU 24, UW 20 / NOV. 20, 1982 / MARTIN STADIUM

Charles Laverne Nelson entered the 75th Apple Cup as the most accomplished placekicker in University of Washington history. He held 15 national, 14 conference and 14 school records, and had made an NCAA-record 30 field goals in a row. That string included a 21-yarder with no time left to beat California. It included a last-second game winner against Stanford. It included 10 of 10 from 30 to 39 yards and three of three between 40 and 49 yards.

So when Nelson lined up for a seemingly routine 33-yard attempt against the Cougars with 4:35 to play against the Cougars and Washington trailing 23-21 with a Rose Bowl berth on the line, it seemed certain that Nelson would come through as always. “Everything was right,” he said later. “The snap, the placement. It went just the way it was supposed to.” Except that Nelson’s kick was, unbelievably to the 36,571 fans on hand, wide right, just barely. “You don’t have to miss,” Nelson lamented later. “There’s no reason to miss. My job is to make it.”

Because he didn’t, the Huskies, who entered the game with a 9-1 record and a No. 5 poll ranking, were denied both the Pac-10 title and a second consecutive trip to the Rose Bowl by a 2-7-1 WSU team sporting all-crimson uniforms for the first time since the 1931 Rose Bowl.

The upset was so shocking that WSU fans tore down the Martin Stadium goal posts and tossed them in the Palouse River.

WSU 17, UW 6 / NOV. 18, 1983 / HUSKY STADIUM

Proving that their huge upset of Washington in 1982 was no fluke, the Ricky Turner-led Cougars denied the Huskies a Rose Bowl berth again by beating Washington 17-6 in a rainy, wind-swept Husky Stadium. The play of the day belonged to WSU punter Glenn Harper, whose TD-saving tackle of Danny Greene shifted the momentum to WSU. Kerry Porter rushed for 169 yards and Richard Calvin scores two touchdowns as the Cougars crushed Washington’s Pac-10 title and Rose Bowl hopes by holding the Huskies to just 86 rushing yards. The win gave WSU back-to-back Apple Cup triumphs for the first time since 1972-73. “It makes it even better that we did this in Seattle. Whether we go to a bowl or not, beating Washington makes the whole season for us,” said Porter, speaking for generations of Cougar players.

WSU 21, UW 20/ NOV. 23, 1985 / HUSKY STADIUM

Playing in 20-degree weather, the coldest game ever at Husky Stadium (conditions were so dreadful that crews at Husky Stadium were forced to put antifreeze in the facility’s toilets), Washington rallied from 7-0, 14-3 and 21-14 deficits, but a two-point conversion attempt from UW quarterback Chris Chandler to WR Lonzell Hill, immediately following their collaboration on a 50-yard TD pass, failed, enabling the Cougars to eke out a 21-20 victory. Future Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien threw three touchdown passes for Washington State, and Rueben Mayes ran for 167 yards.

WSU 32, UW 31 / NOV. 19, 1988 / MARTIN STADIUM

Washington raced to a 21-9 first-quarter lead, but the Aloha Bowl-bound Cougars rallied and eventually tallied the game-winning TD with 9:06 to play on a five-yard run by quarterback Timm Rosenbach, delighting a Martin Stadium throng of 40,000. WSU’s victory not only ended Washington’s regular season, it snapped the Huskies’ consecutive bowl streak at nine. Wrote Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Jim Moore, a WSU grad: “What could possibly be better (the Rose Bowl maybe) than going to the Aloha Bowl while the Huskies stay home? Christmas, Cougars, golf clubs, pina coladas, sunshine, beaches, Don Ho.”

WSU 42, UW 21 / NOV. 21, 1992 / MARTIN STADIUM

Numerous Apple Cup quarterbacks have thrown for more yards than the 260 Bledsoe had against the Huskies in 1992, including Bledsoe himself. But no quarterback had a better game under such adverse conditions. In a snowstorm at Martin Stadium that was also accompanied by swirling  gusts of wind, Bledsoe completed 18 of 30 passes, threw a pair of touchdown passes, and led the Cougars to a 42-21 victory over a Rose Bowl-bound Washington team. Shaumbe Wright-Fair ran for 193 yards and three TDs as the Cougars shellacked the defending national champions 42-23. Said Bledsoe in 2002: “That’s still my most favorite game I’ve played in.”

WSU 23, UW 6/ NOV. 19 1994 / MARTIN STADIUM

The Cougars scored on three consecutive possessions in the first half, then knocked Husky quarterback Damon Huard out of the game on the final play before intermission. With somebody named Ted Stark running the UW offense in the second half, the probation-plagued Huskies had no chance to get back in the game. “It kind of hurts,” said Stark. For added hurt, a fan in the stands held up a placard that said, “Ted Bundy was a Husky.”

WSU 41, UW 35 / NOV. 22, 1997 / HUSKY STADIUM

Washington State entered the game as a six-point underdog despite a 9-1 record, and proceeded to beat the Huskies for the first time in three years, earning their first Rose Bowl berth in 67 years. Even better for the Cougars, they were able to celebrate the Pasadena trip at Husky Stadium. WSU quarterback Ryan Leaf decimated Washington, throwing for 358 yards and a pair of long-distance touchdowns., and the Cougar defense intercepted five passes, three by freshman Lamont Thompson.

After the game, Cougar fans celebrated on the Husky Stadium turf for an hour, a party that included an emphatic tearing down the UW goalposts. Said WSU Coach Mike Price said, “This football team will be remembered for 100 years.”

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