|Rotten Apple Cup arrives for Cougars and Huskies|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 21 November 2008 13:09|
Bad years? Plenty. A slump of a few seasons? Absolutely. But after Washington State posted a 0-0-1 record in 1898, neither the Cougars nor Huskies have ever gone winless.
That brings us to Saturday's Apple Cup between Washington (0-10, 0-7 Pac-10) and Washington State (1-10, 0-8) that provides what could be the final opportunity for the Huskies to avoid a giant zero blemishing the history of its program.
``I think more than anything it hurts the players because we've put in that work every day,'' Washington linebacker Donald Butler said.
``To go out on Saturday and not get it done, it's damaging. It hurts.''
that have watched this season play out. Both teams are undeniably among the worst in the country, and the contest is the first matchup of 10-loss teams in Pac-10 Conference history.
The Cougars' only win was an early season rout of a 3-7 Football Championships Subdivision team - Portland State. WSU is on pace to break the NCAA record for most points allowed in a single season. During a stretch of three losses to Oregon State, USC and Stanford, the Cougars were outscored 169-0 over a span of 10 quarters.
They've gone through a series of quarterbacks as injuries piled up, and struggled in adjusting to the style and system of new coach Paul Wulff. A win Saturday would help temper some of the Cougars' struggles and provide a boost heading into Wulff's first full offseason in Pullman.
``We want to win it. It'll help with some of the sting of the season, obviously,'' Wulff said. ``I think that's important that we have an opportunity to do that and go into the offseason feeling a little better about yourself.''
Despite all of WSU's struggles and failures in Wulff's first season, the Cougars have a win, no matter how unimpressive it may be. And with the Huskies still facing a finale in two weeks at California, their best opportunity at avoiding the winless tag comes against their cross-state rivals.
ys we definitely don't want to leave with (zero) wins our last year,'' Washington's Johnie Kirton said.
The Apple Cup is also a test for outgoing Washington coach Tyrone Willingham to see if he can motivate a team that has seemed lethargic and willing to give up easily over the last month. Willingham is already headed for unemployment after the California game, and his assistants are telling players that their efforts in the closing weeks are auditions for a new coaching staff.
Willingham believes the rivalry itself should produce enough emotion to ignite his team. But when Washington opened the season at Oregon - a rival some believe is on par with the Cougars - the Huskies endured a 44-10 rout, setting the tone for their entire season.
``I think there is a natural energy around this game and everyone is affected by (it),'' Willingham said. ``Everyone is drawn to it. You know there is something different about this week. ... Our guys will feel that and sense that.''
Should the Huskies fail in their final two games, they would become the 15th FBS team to go winless in the last 10 years, and only the third program from a Bowl Championship Series conference. Duke of the Atlantic Coast Conference went winless in 2006, 2001 and 2000, while South Carolina of the Southeastern Conference went 0-11 back in 1999.
e victory since 1970.
``It's embarrassing both of us are doing so bad right now,'' Kirton said. ``But at the same time there is always a hard time for a program and there is always a way up.''