Cougars 31 – 28 Huskies
What a lousy way to finish the season. It turned out to be a Black Friday indeed.
As I sat and watched the beginning of this game, I told my co-worker “we are going to lose the Apple Cup.”
It just looked like the Huskies weren’t interested in this one from the onset.
Sure it got better in the second half, but the Cougars were the team that looked like destiny was on the side of, not the team that was headed to a bowl game, the Huskies.
So with the up and down season coming to an end with and up and down game, I thought I would give 5 questions that need to be addressed by Coach Sark himself before the bowl game and beyond.
1: How did this happen?
Of course we are going to start with the obvious.
In the 4th quarter of this game the Dawgs had an 18 point lead. 18 points! That is a gimme against a team that has struggled all season long.
How in the world did coach Sark allow this team, who had won 4 straight, to give up so badly in their most important game of the year?
The Huskies had given up only 18 points in their previous two games, that is 8 quarters of football with only 18 points allowed.
And yet here in Pullman, they gave up the same amount in just 15 minutes.
Unacceptable, especially now that all those Cougars fans will be gloating for the next 12 months about how they won the Apple Cup.
2: Where is the discipline?
18 must be the Cougars lucky number, because one of the things that undid the Huskies was their penalties once again, and yep, you guessed it, the number was 18.
How does this happen?
Penalties have been the downfall of the Huskies all season long, but 18 against the Cougs? That is just too much.
There will be enough time now for coach Sark to demonstrate just how damning penalties are to his team before the bowl game.
Hopefully he makes them watch this game over and over again, every day, until it is beaten into their thick skulls that penalties are what loses ball games.
What ever he has been doing up to this point sure hasn’t been working.
3: What now?
Is it back to the drawing board for Washington?
I doubt it, they played well enough to win this game, but fell apart at the end.
The Apple Cup is a game full of emotion, just like every rivalry, but execution needs to take precedent over feelings at this level.
The old bread and butter wasn’t there on Friday.
But, this doesn’t mean the Huskies should abandon relying heavily on Bishop Sankey to get yards on the ground in the bowl game.
He has been the one that has carried this team all year long offensively, even when Keith Price decided to finally show up, Sankey was still the man.
And Sankey needs to continue to be the man come bowl season.
4: When will this team be a contender?
This is probably a question that may never be answered.
In arguably the best conference this side of Texas, the Huskies may never be on top again.
That is, until the dynasties of USC, and Oregon decide to dry up.
Which is a little funny, since both failed to reach the Pac-12 Championship game.
We have been made promises in Seattle ever since the departure of the great Don James, and since then, most have failed.
The successor has finally arrived I think, and in time, this Huskies team will once again be the pride of the Pac-12, but until then, we have some work to do.
If this team can’t even beat cross state rival Washington State, who can’t beat anyone, how can we be considered a threat in the Pac-12?
One minute we are beating top 10 teams like Oregon State and Stanford, and the next, losing to the Cougars.
If it’s any consolation, all of our losses, besides the Apple Cup, did come to ranked teams, or teams that had been and are ranked now.
5: Who will step up in the bowl game?
Though we don’t officially know where we are headed yet, it can be assumed that it will be Maaco Bowl against Boise State.
This will be yet another tough matchup in a season full of tough matchups.
My bet is the Huskies rely on the legs of Bishop Sankey to carry them to a victory.
Yes, Boise State isn’t exactly who they were a few years ago, but they still do carry that stigma of a team that is a power house in NCAA football.
How coach Sark prepares for this game will be the ultimate test for the Huskies.
Each of the prior questions will need to be not only addressed, but answered as well if we are to stand a chance.
But the number one thing that needs to be fixed are the penalties.
That, and the need to go for the jugular and finish off an opponent.
The nightmares of the Apple Cup may always loom for this team, but it they want to go on and become professional football players, the first thing they will need to learn how to do is forget.