Why did this Apple Cup feel like the villain from Snow White was attempting to put us down by feeding us one bad apple meant to disrupt everything we had going for ourselves? A-HA! Oregon’s to blame, because you know, Oregon.
For the first time since the Tulsa game in September, Seattle was blessed with clear skies and golden sun meaning that for once, UWs offense should be able to pick things up without wind, rain, and everything else the elemental gods could knock their way. The stakes are a bit familiar but unlike being 8-0 before USC, the team is 11-0 with a chance to finish their regular season 12-0 for the first time since 1991 and make it to the CFP for the only other time than their 2016 shot.
Michael Penix Jr. & co. were made aware this past Friday night of their Pac-12 title matchup and of course it will come all back down to Oregon to complete the Holy Trinity of Penix and Bo Nix matchups. The first time since 2016 a Pac-12 cracked the top four and now UW could be the first team since the Pac-12 formation to go 12-0.
So can the Huskies face history from the front and it stare down as it vanishes behind them?
The defense had something to say about that the first drive Washington State received, giving up four yards in three plays. They stunted the Cougars’ pass attack so badly that if one didn’t finish the game, they’d assume the visiting team was shut out. Penix marched onto the field one last time on Montlake with the tears behind him and his players, to again do what he does. Except it didn’t happen. This time a first down was attained, but it dissipated with the coming of a punt.
Washington State gets the ball back. The defense is hitting unlike anything the nation has seen of them this season and once again, Washington gets it. The Huskies take over, three quick drives by either team combined rapidly becoming the story of the game. Since when did Midwest slugfests find their way to the PNW? No clue.
Hoping the right adjustments were made, Husky nation watched in gripping anticipation hoping the right adjustments can be made. Do the Huskies have it in them to separate themselves from the normal? That they do, was the answer as the purple and gold dawgs rolled 51 yards in nine total plays. Penix handed it off to his running back for that first touchdown.
The three score spread to this game was in sight and the game started to move into that direction. Unfortunately, Washington State made it competitive very quickly as they equaled Washington with a score of their own. The game now at 7-7, the physicality of the Apple Cup growing with hit after hit coming to each QB. For once, the edge rushers had multiple sacks in the first half allowing for drives to be stalled early.
After the score was tied at 14 going into the third, the Huskies were losing all of their momentum after failing to make the score 21-7. The third quarter was the very definition of a battered beating as both defenses found the right times to give up minimal yards or get sacks to stop drives. Those picking Washington on the astronomical spread had one more thing to convince themselves won’t be happening. The truth became clear: Washington will be winning a nail biter.
Tied at 21, Washington State was dialed into making the biggest upset of the week and possibly the season. With just a few minutes left in the game, Washington couldn’t score and were forced to punt. Washington State finding unreal success more and more as the seconds ticked began their march and the Cougars began to threaten.
Past the 50-yard-line they kept going and something magical happened. Well a two parter in magic happened. Washington’s defense buckled down and eliminated the need for WSU to concern themselves with a field goal. Penix came out and 3...2...1...here we go. You see, Sheduer Sanders of Colorado compared himself to Brady on multiple occasions, but the real Brady is Penix. There’s no quarterback playing as a one or no loss team right now that has had to pull his team from the gutter as much as he had. And if his Heisman hopes are so far in third that it doesn’t even matter to think about him, at least give him credit for this. UW’s guardian angel took the field in Seattle for the last drive he will ever play in that stadium.
And in front of sold out crowd who would rather count on no one else, Penix led the team to a fourth down. This is the part where I debated with my writers. Go for the fourth or punt? I trusted the defense and UW was in field goal range if the fourth down couldn’t be converted. So what in the world is the call? I voiced that we should punt and pin the Cougars. In my mind, and likely most of ours, how do draw up the right play? The unbeatable play?
UW lined up for that fourth down and Raymond muttered the golden words. This is a championship play. Or could not have been. The nation saw it. The ball was handed off down the middle and the Washington State Cougars swarmed it easily.
Except that didn’t happen! Even the cameraman was fooled as the ball was so flawlessly faked to Odunze for the rush on the outside. Rome took it across midfield and now the Huskies were cooking. Shortly after, Grady Gross nailed the game winning field goal.
That folks is a championship team executing as one should. The Huskies are 12-0 and the only Pac-12 team, likely ever to go undefeated in the regular season. The Dawgs have a date with Ducks this coming Friday for a winner takes all matchup. Where will you be?
And go Huskies.