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Huskies Win 5th Straight Apple Cup Featured

Luke Falk threw three interceptions and lost a fumble in rout to the Cougs 41-14 beating in the Apple Cup Saturday.  This was Luke Falk’s final meeting against the Huskies, and he has been on the wrong side of a lopsided affair each time.  Falk has never been able to get over the hump, and the Huskies seem to have their way on the ground each year as they put up 328 yards rushing Saturday.  This was a game that could have lifted the Cougs to their first ever Pac-12 Championship, but the door to that closed quickly as the Huskies made their presence felt early.

The Huskies used their first drive to march down the field in 11 pays and get seven points on the board to really set the tone to how this game was going to go.  Luke Falk has been a question mark this season and was benched twice, once again Boise State, and another against Arizona.  The big question coming into the game was how long Mike Leach would take to pull Falk if the offense wasn’t moving the ball.  The answer was not at all.  No matter what happened, even after his third interception, Leach stuck with the guy that has helped them succeed this year, but for the Cougars sake things snowballed and didn’t improve throughout the contest.  When asked if Leach thought about putting Hilinski in he responded, “Not really, statistically the best Pac-12 quarterback in history, and sometimes you gotta just fight through it.”

The Cougs defense held the Huskies in check in the first quarter after the first touchdown, but the offense was only able to muster up 2 first downs and didn’t give the defense much time to rest.  The defense began to get tired and the Husky run game took over in the 2nd.  Following a Falk fumble at the Cougar 28 yard line, Salvon Ahmed ran the ball 27 yards to the 1 yard line and quarterback Jake Browning punched it in.  The Huskies held a 24-0 lead at half time and just cruised after that to their fifth straight Apple Cup win.  “I think this is a really good team, where you gotta play good and play together in order to beat ‘em.”

The WSU offense just never caught their stride and Falk for some reason cannot seem to shake this funk he has been in this season.  He was an early Heisman Candidate, but the things that made him so successful the past two years like spreading the ball all over the field and utilizing his weapons have not been as prevalent this year.  Instead, a lot of check downs and holding the ball too long which as the year went on, led to an obvious lack of confidence.  It doesn’t help to get bench, but Leach said that he benched him in the Arizona game because he couldn’t see the field.  Backup Tyler Hilinski came in for two quarters and threw for 504 yards because of his quick release and ability to move the ball up field.  The counter to that, is that Hilinski also threw 4 interceptions which severely hurt the Cougars cause.  “Luke said on his performance, when you turn the ball over four times, it’s a bad night.”

The other question coming into the game was whether Coach Mike Leach will be here next year because former athletic director Bill Moos who left mid-season went to Nebraska and the rumor has been that Mike Leach may follow him after head coach Mike Riley was let go.   After the game, Leach denied the rumors, but the post-game press conference seemed to be un-Leach like.  The anger he usually has after and a loss that he knows was a disappointment wasn’t there.  He alluded to the fact that his team was capable of beating the Huskies, but just not the type of press conference I am used to hearing after a disappointing loss under Mike Leach.  The next few weeks will be telling to see if he takes the Nebraska job or not.

The Cougs look to be a lock for the Kraft Fight Hunger bowl in Santa Clara.  Early projections show them playing against the 8th place team in the Big Ten, the Purdue Boilermakers(6-6).

 

 

 

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