Well, that was fun, wasn’t it?
If you were like me, you were a little disappointed with the stakes surrounding this Apple Cup. Huskies fans were hopeful that the team would repeat as conference champs and make a second straight appearance in the College Football Playoff, something only elite programs the likes of Alabama, Ohio State, and Clemson have done since the inception of the Playoff in 2014.
Instead, the Huskies were relegated to the position of spoiler after dropping two conference games, including to Stanford two weeks ago, which subsequently eliminated them from contention for the Pac-12 North title last week when the Cardinal defeated California in the Big Game.
Is it rational that I was a little bummed with how this Apple Cup shaped up, considering that the Huskies came into this game 9-2 and ranked #17 in the country, especially considering where this program was just a few years back? No, not at all. But hey, this is college football, where a panel of 13 men release top 25 rankings 6 times a year, 5 of which they have admitted are essentially meaningless, and then decide who the best 4 teams are in the country for the semifinals. To me, that process clearly indicates that rationality is not a prerequisite to enjoy this sport.
Point being, I understand if Huskies fans were not as excited for this Apple Cup heading into the game Saturday as they likely were a few months ago. However, there’s no question that all Huskies fans were far from disappointed with the end result.
For the fifth straight year, the Huskies took home the Apple Cup trophy as they drubbed the Cougs 41-14. Chris Petersen is now 4-0 in the Apple Cup, and it’s hard to say this game has looked like much of a contest since he arrived on Montlake four years ago, considering the Huskies have an average margin of 27 points in Petersen’s aforementioned four victories.
Let’s dive into the Dawgs that shined the brightest on Saturday.
Offensive Game Award: Myles Gaskin
This one is not even close. Gaskin finished the game with 192 yards rushing on 25 carries, good for a dominant 7.7 yards per carry, en route to four touchdowns. It was clear that the Huskies were going to the ride the rushing game early on. Once Dante Pettis and Lavon Coleman left the game with injuries, it was clear that the Huskies were going to need a big game from their junior tailback. And boy, did he deliver, as he absolutely shredded the Cougars defense all night long.
I don’t have the first clue if this was Gaskin’s final game in Husky Stadium. I certainly hope it wasn’t for my own, selfish reasons, but would absolutely understand if the junior tailback decided he was ready to jump to the NFL. If it was, well, that was quite the way to go out.
My honorable mention here goes to the Huskies’ entire offensive line. The Cougars undersized defensive line, nicknamed the “Speed D,” came into this game highly touted, and rightfully so. However, the “big uglies” up front for the Huskies asserted their will for four quarters on Saturday.
Defensive Game Award: Vita Vea
The Huskies’ defensive line put together a dominant performance Saturday. They tallied five sacks on the night and were a huge reason why the Cougars finished the game with an astounding -24 rushing yards. While Vita Vea’s numbers don’t jump off the page (he finished with 2 total tackles including 1 solo, a half sack and a half tackle for loss) it feels wrong not giving this award to him. It just felt like he was in the backfield all night, something I’m sure Luke Falk would agree with. Honestly, I may be giving him this award solely for his two-handed shove of Falk out of his own end zone. That may have been my favorite play of the year and ultimately why i’m giving Vita the nod here.
Special Teams Game Award: Tristan Vizcaino
Look, it hasn’t exactly been the season we had hoped it would be for the senior kicker, or for the kicking unit as a whole, but it’s been really fun to watch Vizcaino get back on track the last game and a half. It looked like Vizcaino was never going to get out of his rut after missing an extra point and a field goal last week, but he redeemed himself by nailing the game winner to knock off the Utes. He followed that up by connecting on all of his extra points, as well as both of his field goal attempts, including a career-long 44-yard attempt.
Good on Vizcaino, and here’s hoping that he’ll be able to carry that momentum into the Huskies’ bowl game.