I have trouble getting worked up about playing Washington State. Maybe it's the "enemy of my enemy is my friend" principle. Maybe it's that they've been really, really bad at football for a good while. Maybe it's because Paul Wulff looks like Rod Farva from Super Troopers, and I don't want him to set my country music award on fire. Even my attempts to cast some hate ending up being kind of fun. Remember Alex Brink? Sheldon HS quarterback who spurned the Ducks to play football in Pullman? He is the only quarterback in Cougar history to beat washington three times in his career. Sounds like a hell of a guy to me.
Instead, we get an early start on Happy I Hate Washington Week with a recap of one of the greatest college football games I've ever watched.
The 2008 Apple Cup.
Coming into the 2008 Apple Cup, the state of Washington had exactly one college football win. And it was a WSU win over Portland State. The washington huskies were 0-10; they opened the season with a 44-10 loss in Autzen Stadium, followed that up with a loss to BYU that ended with an atrocious unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty on Jake Locker and a subsequent blocked extra point (the fact that a 34 yard field goal is entirely makable is irrelevant. The huskies got hosed). Jake Locker, Football Messiah went down with a broken thumb two games later, and a team that was already terrible on both sides of the ball now had Ronnie Fouch at quarterback. And they weren't even considered the worst team in the state. That honor went to the Washington State Cougars, under first-year head coach Paul Wulff. This team gave up 453 points in nine Pac-10 games, a record. In consecutive games against USC and Stanford, they were outscored 127-0. As much as this game appeared to be the second coming of the Toilet Bowl, the huskies were the heavy favorite.
The game began as can be expected; a personal foul on washington was followed up three plays later by a Ronnie Fouch interception. Despite starting the drive near midfield, the Cougs only advanced the ball ten yards in five plays, and were forced to punt. The huskies took the ball at the 20, and held the ball for almost seven minutes. They only advanced the ball 36 yards before punting, but still. After another Cougar punt, washington finally broke through, capping a sixty yard drive with a Willie Griffin rushing touchdown. The teams traded three-and-outs, then WSU QB Kevin Lopina threw an interception to washington's Mesphin Forrester, leading to a field goal. Not even a successful fake punt by the Cougs could net them any points, and the two teams went into halftime with the huskies up 10-0.
washington should have put this game away in the second half. They advanced the ball into Cougar territory on every second half drive. They came away with exactly zero points. Washington State scored late in the third quarter to make it 10-7.
The fourth quarter featured both teams trying desperately to lose the game in the most aggravating way possible. washington began the period by missing a 40 yard field goal; WSU countered by going three-and-out. The huskies put together a 7:07 drive, killing much of the clock and setting up kicker Ryan Perkins with a 28-yard field goal; clank. Given new life, WSU responds by...turning the ball over on downs with only 2:02 left.
After both teams burn all their timeouts, the huskies are faced with a 4th and 3 from the WSU 36 yard line. Keep in mind, washington ran for 224 yards in this game, and were facing one of the worst defenses in the history of modern college football. So naturally, they punted. Punter Jared Ballman kicked the ball into the endzone, for a net punt of sixteen yards. It is safe to say this was a classic case of Tyrone Willingham just not giving a shit anymore.
The Cougars got the ball back at the 20 with 0:56 left in regulation. They advanced the ball to the 34 yard line in three plays. Then, freshman wideout Jared Karstetter, who had only caught three passes in his career up to that point, got behind the husky defense and hauled in a 48 yard pass from Lopina, moving the Cougs to the Uw 18. WSU almost ran out of time after completing a seven yard pass to Karstetter, but Kevin Lopina was able to spike the ball with two seconds left. That left Nico Grasu a 28 yard field goal to send the game into overtime. Unlike his husky counterpart, he split the uprights.
Both teams drove the ball inside their opponent's ten yard line, but neither could find the endzone, trading field goals instead. To start the second OT, washington failed to convert a 3rd and 5, and Ryan Perkins missed his second field goal of the afternoon, a 37 yarder. Washington State needed just a field goal for the win, and Grasu again hit the big kick, giving the Cougs the victory.
In 2008, Washington State was one of the least talented, least experienced, and all-around worst football teams in college football history. And they still beat the huskies. If that isn't a Homer's Guide legend, I don't know what is.