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Rivalry week (and the Washington one has the edge for once)!!!

For most of the state of Washington, the big college football game on fans’ radar this week is the Apple Cup pitting the University of Washington Huskies against the Washington State Cougars. This year’s version takes place the day after Thanksgiving at Husky Stadium.

I do say most of the state because the county I live in, Clark County, is filled with far more Ducks and Beavers supporters than Cougars or Huskies. Which is a shame, because for the first time in a number of years there’s more excitement about the Apple Cup than the Oregon/Oregon State battle, the Civil War, which is also on Friday. You see, both Washington and Washington State come in having won its last game and being bowl eligible while the Ducks and the Beavers both lost their games by a combined score of 111-43.

I don’t know about you…but the Apple Cup is a lot different now than it used to be. Back in the day it was a flat-out rivalry as it morphed from the Cougars only caring about ruining the Huskies’ season and not about the other games on their schedule to the Huskies trying to play spoilers during Washington State’s run atop the conference. Sure, there have been lean years like the 2008 game (neither team had a Pac-10 win going into the game) but all in all it’s been a very spirited rivalry. Especially from the Cougar side…which makes me wonder why every year the Washington State football players come out ready to eat glass and the Washington football players jog all business-like out of the tunnell. Show some fire, Huskies!!!!

But the Apple Cup has changed for me and I think the reason for it is a lot of Husky/Cougs fans don’t consider the other side to be their big rival anymore. it’s sort of like when enemies join forces to go against an even bigger enemy which in my mind is Oregon because of the way the Ducks have not only run roughshod through the Pacific Northwest but that they have rubbed our collective noses in it. I’m sure if you asked 10 Husky fans and 10 Cougar fans who they would rather beat, Washington/Washington State or Oregon, they would say Oregon.

As a result, the Apple Cup has turned into a mutual dislike that boils over into a war during that week to sort of, tolerance and good-natured ribbing. Best jokes I’ve heard this week…

“How many Cougars does it take to screw in a lightbulb? One…but they get five credits for it”

“Oh yeah? Well how many Huskies does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Six…one to do the job and five to stand around in a circle drinking wine spritzers”

Good stuff…fun, good natured stuff. Way better natured than what I hear from a lot of Duck fans…which is usually disgust at my purple and gold garb….”go Ducks…ten years in a row baby”. Reminds me…I need to research how much the Oregon football program gets in donations vs. Washington, and look at the two teams’ schedules (specifically the record of the Ducks’ road opponents) over the past five years. I think that’s advantage one and two for Oregon which means a few extra wins.

Speaking of wins…I am not sure who is going to win either the Apple Cup or the Civil War. I have a pretty good idea…so here goes….

The Apple Cup is usually not about who has the strongest team…nor is it about the team that has the most to play for. It’s usually about the team that has the bigger cloud around it that wins. The Cougs are giddy because for the first time in a number of years they are bowl-eligible. The Huskies, meanwhile, are just a bit short of expectations but a resounding win last week at Oregon State has folks feeling a bit better. But, feeling a bit better wins out over giddy in this one….and I think Washington keeps up the momentum from last weekend, and uses last year’s choke job, as motivation and wins handily. If this game were in Pullman I’d go with the Cougs but it’s in Seattle and I think that means about 20 points so…

WASHINGTON 44, Washington State 24

As for the Civil War the Ducks have owned the Beavers lately and Oregon State is such a bewildered football team right now having lost four straight games. Oregon got a bit cocky with players not really excited about the Rose Bowl and it sure was nice of Arizona to make sure they wouldn’t have to go through the disappointment of winning a major conference championship and playing in one of the most prestigious games in the country. Conspiracy theorists are saying Oregon, which needs cash about as much as I need 10 more pounds, lost so the other schools in the conference wouldn’t get as much $$$ from the conference having two schools in BCS bowls (about a 14 million dollar difference). But, it is what it is…I think Marcus Mariotta is a lot more injured than you or I know but I think Oregon wins this one comfortably because Oregon State cannot run the ball.

OREGON 52, Oregon State 25

Last week: 1-2     Overall: 27-7

Paul Williams

I am a sports nut who has tried to make the transition from athlete to athletic....err....supporter of my two children and their athletic endeavours. I am also a former sports reporter for The Arlington Times, Marysville Globe, The Skagit Argus and The Coeur d'Alene Press. Follow me on Facebook or on Twitter (@PDub4170).