You are welcome, Utah. Suck it, Oregon.
It feels awfully good not only to win the Apple Cup, but also for UW to shatter Duck dreams for the second time in three weeks. While the Huskies won’t be playing for a Pac-12 Championship, neither will Oregon. Utah will face USC in the conference title game.
In what was a pretty fun and fast-paced Pac-12 after dark contest, the Washington Huskies rolled up 703 yards of total offense and put the Cougars away late en route to a 51-33 win.
Washington State entered the game as the conferences’ top scoring defense, allowing only 19.8 points per game. The Huskies met very little resistance from the Cougs, scoring at will as Michael Penix, Jr. threw for 485 yards and hit all three of his top wideouts for scores from distance. Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan both had huge games and each topped the 1,000 yard mark for the season. The Husky offensive line kept Penix clean once again, and dominated a very good and active Cougar front seven.
WSU quarterback Cam Ward was elusive in the pocket, and gave the Husky defense plenty of problems, especially in the first half. Ward threw for 322 yards and eluded numerous UW pass rushers.
After WSU booted a 50 yard field goal on the game’s opening possession, the Dawgs and Cougs traded punts before Penix took advantage of a short field and led the Huskies 44 yards in four plays, finding Ja’Lynn Polk who hauled in a high throw and scooted down the sideline for a 26 yard score. WSU used a pretty slick fake punt that fooled the Huskies badly on their way to taking a 10-7 lead on a 14 yard Cam Ward scramble. That was the 2nd of seven consecutive touchdowns scored by both teams combined over the first and second quarters. There was very little defenses were able to do on either side in the second quarter.
The Huskies scored on a very cool trick play where Penix took the second of two backward passes and showed some speed reading his blocks and working his way 30 yards into the endzone for a 21-17 lead. Wazzu would strike back with a 10 play 70-yard drive to go ahead 24-21. The Huskies took the lead back on a 4 yard keeper by Penix with 1:40 left in the half. WSU answered with a drive aided by two UW 15-yard penalties and kicked a field goal to make it 28-27 Huskies at the half.
Penix and Huskies wasted no time in the 3rd quarter, as the lefty hit Jalen McMillan in stride for a 75 yard touchdown on the very first play to make it 35-27. The UW defense followed with a 3 and out, and just when it looked like UW was driving to finally take a two score lead, Cam Williams put the ball in harms way and allowed it to be stripped on a nice hit by a Wazzu defender as he twisted for extra yards.
The turnover fired up the Cougs and their fans, and Ward led them on a nine play, 58 yard drive to cut the UW lead to two. Ward could have tied the game on the two-point conversion, but had the ball in the wrong hand as he skipped over the pylon.
The Huskies went on a long, nine-play 64 yard drive of their own, hoping to extend the two-point lead, but Penix overthrew two receivers and had the ball intercepted in the endzone. The UW defense rose to the challenge, forcing a quick three-and out and taking over on their own 28 with 1:23 left in the 3rd quarter. After two incompletions, Polk drew a pass interference penalty on 3rd down. At the start of the 4th quarter, Penix hit Polk for a 46 yard gain to the 5-yard line, and Odunze took a fly sweep around the right side for the touchdown. After Peyton Henry doinked the PAT, it was an eight point lead for UW.
Washington State would run 22 more plays on their next three drives, and never get closer than the UW 37 yard line as the Husky defense kept contain on Ward, before dropping him for numerous sacks down the stretch. Wayne Tualapapa ran nearly untouched to the endzone for a 40 yard touchdown to provide the window dressing for this one.
Next up: A bowl game, and a pretty good one. Well done Coach DeBoer and everyone involved in this 10-2 season.