For The Apple

Intriguing Game- NCAA Football (Week 13)

(14) Washington State Cougars at (18) Washington Huskies

Washington State: In a game where there are so many great offensive teams in the country, they are one that doesn’t get mentioned much, but they can fling the football all over the field and score with ease. I’ll honestly tell you that I really didn’t know much about them until I saw I was scheduled to break down and analyze their game against Sam Darnold and the USC Trojans. I watched that entire game and I was impressed with them, especially Luke Falk, the gun-slinging quarterback that’s more than capable of taking a game over. They lost their first conference game of the year against Colorado. It’s been a good year for them. After a rough start where they lost their first two games of the season, they rattled off eight wins in a row including a big-time victory against the Trojans of Southern California. Their offense will always get the coverage, but they are no slouch on the defensive side of things. They are very consistent with coming up with key stops and they’re used to playing in tough environments. After all, this is a team that’s faced the Oregon Ducks in Eugene, Arizona, and Utah and they weren’t phased one bit. Mike Leach’s bunch will wrap up their season traveling to Seattle to face their in-state rivals.

Washington: Last season, they surprised a lot of people and won their division, won the Pac-12 championship and were one of the four teams to make the playoffs, but fell short to Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide. They were able to dominate games last year with Jake Browning and the 43 touchdown passes he threw which made him a Heisman candidate. This year, he’s thrown only 18 touchdown passes and that’s not jaw dropping but there’s a more important stat that stands out to me and that’s the fact that he’s thrown only five interceptions all year, so it’s safe to say that this is a “responsible year”. Another major improvement of his game has been his completion percentage as he’s completing 69 percent of his passes on the season. The only thing that’s concerned me with Jake has been the knack of holding onto the football. Yes, he does have the ability to move within the pocket to escape pressure coming in his direction, but he can take some unnecessary hits such as the Huskies game against Stanford when he took two four-quarter sacks. The Washington Huskies lost their shot at repeating as conference champs after their loss to Stanford. The Huskies defense has been one of their strengths for the last few seasons and they have a phenomenal pass rush. It wasn’t really in full effect against the Utes of Utah, but being rested, they should be ready to go. They can still end their season on a high note trying to clinch the Apple Cup against their rivals.

Washington State Player To Watch: Hercules Mata’afa– Mike Leach has been raving about this kid all season long and he’s been one of the anchors of this Cougars front. At six-foot-two and 252 pounds, he’s smaller and quicker than most guys at that position, but he can definitely hold his ground.

Washington Player To Watch: Dante Pettis– When John Ross decided to declare himself eligible for the draft, they would build the offense around this big-play receiver and for the final time on Saturday, he’ll put that uniform on one more time in front of those fans.

Final Analysis: This is a rivalry that has been relevant for years with Washington winning the last few meetings. I think we’re going to see a very physical football game with the two quarterbacks making some big throws when it matters. I see this being a shootout and it will come down to the fourth quarter. The Cougars will try to throw a lot of exotic looks at Browning and take Gaskin away. For Washington, this secondary will be tested early on.

Prediction: Washington 38 Washington State 35