The Huskies (7-4) have a chance to record eight victories for the first time since 2001 when they meet Washington State Friday afternoon in the 106th Apple Cup in Seattle.
GAME: Washington State (6-5 overall, 4-4 Pac-12) at Washington (7-4 overall, 4-4 Pac-12). WHEN: Friday, 12:30 p.m., Husky Stadium. MEETING: 106th (UW leads 67-32-6). COACHES: Mike Leach, Washington State; Steve Sarkisian, Washington. RANKINGS: Neither school ranked. LINE: Washington by 14. TV: FOX. RADIO: KJR-950 AM.
It’s likely that the identity of Washington’s quarterback for Friday’s Apple Cup at Husky Stadium will not be made public until shortly before the 12:30 p.m. kickoff. No matter which — senior Keith Price, rehabbing a shoulder injury, or Cyler Miles, who threw for 162 yards and a TD in Washington’s 69-27 romp over Oregon State — gets the nod, coach Steve Sarkisian said he will be good with his choice.
“Cyler’s performance (at Oregon State) gives me a comfort level of knowing I have a very capable guy that can go in and perform and command our offense,” Sarkisian said this week. “I also know I have a fifth-year senior (Price) who is working his tail off in the rehab room to get himself healthy enough to go out and finish his college career on a high note.”
This will be Price’s last game at Husky Stadium. The question is whether the throwing shoulder he injured at UCLA has mended sufficiently. Sarkisian and his staff prepared Miles during the week to make the start, but that could change.
“If Keith is physically able to go, where we feel confident and comfortable in what he’s able to do, then Keith will be able to step in,” said Sarkisian.
In a rarity for a rivalry that dates to 1900 and includes 105 previous meetings, both teams have some stakes Friday. Usually, one doesn’t, and, usually that is Washington State.
But the Cougars (6-5), who became bowl eligible Saturday, have an opportunity to finish with a seven-win season for the first time since they went 10-3 in 2003, a season capped by defeating Texas in the Holiday Bowl. Washington State will also be out to make a strong case for a bowl invitation (bowl eligibility does not automatically carry with it a bowl invite).
With the Pac-12’s bowl tie-ins, Washington is already slotted into the Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco, but could receive an invitation to the more lucrative Sun Bowl with a win over Washington State. The Huskies will also be looking to break out of their seven-wins-per-season rut and win eight for the first time since 2001 (8-4). Eight regular-season wins plus a bowl victory would boost Washington’s winter recruiting efforts.
Although Washington and Washington State have met 105 times, on only five occasions have they played when both schools received bowl invitations. This year will mark the sixth, provided Washington State receives a bid. The other years in which UW and WSU played as looming bowl teams were 1981, 1992, 1997, 2001 and 2002. Washington went 3-2 in those games.
The Cougars have not beaten Washington in back-to-back years since 2007-08 and haven’t won in Husky Stadium since 2007, when Alex Brink fired four touchdown passes in a 42-35 WSU victory. This year, the Cougars, at six wins for the first time since 2006, will try to beat the Huskies with the nation’s fifth-ranked passing attack.
Behind quarterback Connor Halliay, WSU averages 372.0 yards per game, Halliday checking in at 355.0, third nationally. The WSU offense already owns the Pac-12 record for single-season completions (401), surpassing the previous mark of 398 by Arizona in 2011, and for pass attempts (639), surpassing last year’s mark of 624 by WSU. The Cougars are closing in on the school record for passing yards, 4,120 in 1997.
Halliday owns two of the top three single-game passing marks in the FBS this season including the top (557). He completed a WSU single-season record 390 passes and needs eight more to break Nick Foles’ (Arizona) single-season conference record of 387, set in 2011. Halliday broke Foles’ conference record for pass attempts last week against Utah and now has 597 this season.
Halliday throws it all over the place, evidenced by the fact that WSU has had 10 receivers catch a pass in each of the last nine games and 10 times this season.
While Halliday racks up huge numbers, his 26 touchdown passes (No. 2 in the Pac-12) are offset by his league-leading 19 interceptions and 126.6 passer efficiency rating, seventh best in the conference. Halliday has struggled away from Pullman, tossing 12 of his 19 picks.
Still, Halliday makes plenty of plays and Washington is expected to try to limit his opportunities by controlling the clock with a running game headed by Bishop Sankey, the nation’s No. 4 rusher who is closing in on Corey Dillon’s school record for yards in a season. Sankey, with 1,575 after collecting 179 at Oregon State, needs 121 to break Dillon’s mark of 1,695 in 1996.
With 34, Sankey also needs one touchdown to become Washington’s career leader, surpassing Napoleon Kaufman, and three TDs to become the second Husky runner to reach 20 in a season, following Dillon’s 24 in 1996.
Washington State, which in one pathetic October swoon gave up 169 points in three games, allows 180.4 rushing yards per game — the Huskies run for 244.7 — but in games away from Pullman, the Cougars are allowing 212.6, setting up the Huskies to feed Sankey 30 to 40 times to keep Halliday at bay.
In rivalry games, emotion often trumps numbers. Many Huskies still smart over blowing a 28-10 lead last year and losing 31-28 in overtime to a WSU team on an eight-game losing streak. This is especially true for Price, who threw the interception that led to Andrew Furney’s winning field goal in overtime.
But the Cougars have motivation of their own.
“Coach Leach has a different vibe about him,” cornerback Nolan Washington told The Spokesman-Review. “He just doesn’t care who we’re playing, who they’ve got, what superstars. It’s just, ‘Here’s who we are, and we’re going to win.’
“When people look back and ask, ‘When did they (the Cougars) start winning again? When did they start going back to bowls?’ – they’ll see it was this team. No matter what happens, we’re the guys who started it.”
The Apple Cup will feature three potential national award winners. Sankey and Austin Seferian-Jenkins are finalists for the Doak Walker Award and John Mackey Award, respectively, given annually to the nation’s best running back and tight end. Washington State’s Deone Bucannon is a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, presented to the nation’s top defensive back.
BOWL SEASON: The Pac-12 has nine teams eligible for bowl games with Washington State making it with its win over Utah Saturday. The Pac-12 has agreements with seven bowl partners – Rose, Alamo, Holiday, Sun, Las Vegas, Fight Hunger and New Mexico. Teams not selected for one of those bowls would be eligible for an at-large invitation.
SERIES: Dates to Nov. 30, 1900, a 5-5 tie in Seattle. Washington has won three of the past four meetings, but Washington State won the last one, 31-28 in overtime Nov. 23, 2012, in Pullman. In that game, WSU overcame a 28-10 deficit by outscoring the Huskies by 18 points in the fourth quarter and three in OT. Jeff Tuel threw for 350 yards for the Cougars and Andrew Furney kicked three field goals, including a 27-yarder for the game winner. Sankey scored two TDs for the Huskies. UW is 38-15-5 against WSU in games played in Seattle.
UW HEAD COACH: Steve Sarkisian (32-29-0) is in his fifth season. After a 5-7 record in 2009, Sarkisian guided the Huskies to a 7-6 record in 2010 that included a 19-7 victory over Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. That marked Washington’s first postseason game since the 2002 Sun Bowl. Sarkisian coached the Huskies to subsequent 7-6 marks in 2011 and 2012, earning invitations to the Alamo (Baylor) and Las Vegas bowls (Boise State). Prior to joining the Huskies, Sarkisian served as a USC assistant under Pete Carroll (2001-03, 2005-08). He also worked as an Oakland Raiders assistant in 2004. Sarkisian played quarterback at Brigham Young University and later played in the Canadian Football League.
WSU HEAD COACH Mike Leach (93-57 overall, 9-14 WSU): Hired Nov. 30, 2011 to replace Paul Wulff, who went 9-40 in four seasons, Leach’s 2012 Cougars led the Pac-12 in passing at 330.4 yards per game and finished the season by beating Washington in the Apple Cup. In 10 seasons at Texas Tech (2000-09), Leach earned 10 bowl bids. The Susanville, CA., native, who was raised in Cody, WY., recorded a school-record 84 victories. Leach’s offenses led the nation in passing six times and three times accumulated the most total yards. In 2009, the Red Raiders finished second in passing offense and fourth in total offense, both marks tops among BCS conference schools. Prior to Texas Tech, Leach spent one season as the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma (1999). That year, the Sooners set six Big 12 and 17 school records.
UW STATS / NOTES
HUSKIES 2012 OFFENSIVE LEADERS
HUSKIES 2012 DEFENSIVE LEADERS
|Tackles||Fuimaono 75, Thompson 64, Timu 59|
|Sacks||Kikaha 8.0, Littleton 4.0, 2 with 3.0|
|Interceptions||Peters 5, Parker 4, 4 with 1|
|Passes Defensed||Peters 13, Ducre 6, Parker 6|
|Forced Fumbles||Fuimaono, Kikaha 2|
|Fumbles Recovered||Peters 2, Feeney, Watson, Farria, 1|
WSU STATS / NOTES
COUGARS OFFENSIVE LEADERS
COUGARS DEFENSIVE LEADERS
|Tackles||Bucannon 102, Sagote 78, Monroe 73|
|Sacks||Cooper 4.0, three tied with 3.0|
|Interceptions||Bucannon 5, Hornton 5, Brown 2|
|Passes Defensed||Brown 5, 4 tied with 3|
|Forced Fumbles||Bucannon 3, Carpenter 2|
|Fumbles Recovered||Pole, Cooper, Bucannon, 2|
Pac-12 Standings / North
|Stanford||9-2||7-2||Sat, vs. Notre Dame|
|Oregon||9-2||6-2||Fri, vs. Oregon St.|
|Washington||7-4||4-4||Fri, vs. WSU|
|Oregon St.||6-5||4-4||Fri, at Oregon|
|Washington St.||6-5||4-4||Fri, at Washington|
Pac-12 Standings / South
|Arizona St.||9-2||7-1||Sat, vs. Arizona|
|USC||9-3||6-2||Sat, vs. UCLA|
|UCLA||8-3||5-3||Sat, at USC|
|Arizona||7-4||4-4||Sat, at Arizona St.|
|Colorado||4-7||1-7||Sat, at Utah|
|Utah||4-7||1-7||Sat, vs. Colorado|
University of Washington 2013 Schedule/Results
|Date||Opponent||UW Rnk||Opp Rnk||W/L||Score||Rec.|
|8/31/13||vs. Boise St.||—||19||W||38-6||1-0|
|9/21/13||vs. Ida. State||17||—||W||56-0||3-0|
Washington State 2013 Schedule/Results
|Date||Opponent||WSU Rnk||Opp Rnk||W/L||Score||Rec.|
|9/14/13||vs. So. Utah||—||—||W||48-10||2-1|