Week 13 – Washington at Washington State

Posted Nov 21, 2012

Week 13 Fearless Prediction – Washington at Washington State

Washington (7-4) at Washington State (2-9) Nov. 23, 3:30, Fox

Here's The Deal: The 105th Apple Cup will be the first for Washington State rookie head coach Mike Leach.

It's been a difficult debut season on the Palouse for Leach, to say the least. His Cougars haven't won a game since Sept. 14, and haven't won a Pac-12 game all year. Oh, and then there were the recent allegations from former star WR Marquess Wilson that the coach is abusive in his approach to the players. Wazzu would desperately like to latch on to something positive, like snapping Washington's three-game winning streak in the series, before regrouping and beginning the healing process in December.

The Huskies have successfully turned their season around. The 3-4 team that appeared beyond repair after getting pummeled by Arizona on Oct. 20 has rallied for four straight wins. Not only will U-Dub be a solid member of the postseason next month, but it has actually snuck into the back end of the BCS Top 25. With two more wins, the Huskies will get to 9-4, delivering a campaign that will have to be labeled an improbable success.

Why Washington Might Win: There was a time when Wazzu was competitive. That time has long since passed.

The wheels are off in Pullman, where the Cougars no longer resemble a Pac-12 team. The Huskies, on the other hand, are gelling, particularly on defense. New coordinator Justin Wilcox has his young unit playing its best at an opportune time, allowing an average of 12 points over the last four games. Washington is littered with up-and-coming underclassmen, such as freshmen Travis Feeney, Marcus Peters and Shaq Thompson, and sophomores Danny Shelton, John Timu and Josh Shirley. More than just talented, the Huskies are peaking.

Why Washington State Might Win: U-Dub is just 1-3 on the road this season, saving its best efforts for CenturyLink Field.

This will be the proverbial bowl game for the Cougars, who'll play fast and loose in front of the home crowd at Martin Stadium. Rivalry games have a knack for eliminating the divide between two schools, which is a good thing for Washington State. It'll take its lead from a pass rush that has quietly been among the nation's best in sacks and tackles for loss. Led by DE Travis Long, one of 13 senior looking to finish strong, and young linebackers Cyrus Coen and Darryl Monroe, Wazzu will be a handful for an O-line that's been the weak link all year in Seattle.

What To Watch Out For: The Huskies offense has finally started to find a groove.

The attack has been more miss than hit this fall, but there have been glimmers of hope. RB Bishop Sankey is on his way to All-Pac-12 recognition, and sophomore pass-catchers Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins will create matchup problems with the Washington State secondary. Even Keith Price, whose disappointing junior year can be traced directly back to the play of the line, has thrown seven touchdown passes and no picks over the last two games. The offense may not be where Steve Sarkisian wants it to be, but it's a lot better off than it was just a few weeks ago.

What Will Happen: The juice from a rivalry can carry the weaker team only so far.

Yeah, throw out the records for the Apple Cup, but there's no denying that these two rivals are heading in completely different directions. Washington is playing its best ball of the year; Washington State its worst. The Cougars will be slightly more competitive than they've been in recent weeks, but not so much that the Huskies will feel threatened in the final quarter. Wilcox's defense will continue to make strides, creating turnovers and keeping Wazzu in check when it attempts to make comeback bids in the late stages.

CFN Prediction: Washington 31 … Washington State 17
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Washington -11.5 O/U: 51
Must Watch Rating (5 – Beware of Mr. Baker, 1 – Life of Pi): 2