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Apple Cup has rich history even before ’97 version

November 14, 1997

For those outside the Pacific Northwest, it’s time to catch up on some Apple Cup history.

Whether or not next Saturday’s Washington State-Washington game decides who plays in the Rose Bowl (it probably will), this version promises to be a doozy. These games usually are.

``It has all the makings of being the biggest Apple Cup ever,″ says Jack Thompson, the former Washington State quarterback.

The Huskies and Cougars have been playing since 1900, the big city school from Seattle against the upstart team from rural Pullman. In 1962, the game became the Apple Cup, with the winning team receiving a trophy from the governor.

Washington leads the series 57-26-6, and is 25-10 in Apple Cup games.

Before Saturday’s games, Washington (7-2, 5-1 Pac-10) was ranked 13th and Washington State (8-1, 5-1) 14th, with the Huskies at No. 9 UCLA and the Cougars playing Stanford. But if you’re a Husky or Cougar, all that counts is winning the Apple Cup, not Rose Bowl ramifications.

``The players don’t give a rip about what kind of season they’re having,″ Thompson said. ``All they care about is beating each other. They have to live with that forever.″

Through the years, there have been memorable games as well as classic quotes.

In 1975, there was Washington’s remarkable 28-27 comeback win capped by Warren Moon’s 78-yard TD pass to Spider Gaines with less than two minutes remaining; Washington State’s 24-20 shocker in ’82 that prevented the Huskies from going to Pasadena; and Drew Bledsoe’s pinpoint passing during a snowstorm in ’92 that gave the Cougars a 42-23 win.

From games like those, came lines like these:

``I’ve always felt being a Cougar prepares you well for life. You learn not to expect too much,″ Washington coach Don James said in 1983.

``There are four important stages in your life. You’re born, you play the Huskies, you get married and you die,″ Washington State guard Dan Lynch said in 1984.

The past two games have provided more frantic finishes.

Ryan Leaf’s first start came in the ’95 game at Seattle, and the freshman was sensational in a 33-30 loss. He hit 22 of 33 passes for 291 yards, passing for one TD and running for two more. The Huskies won on John Wales’ 21-yard field goal with 62 seconds left.

``You knew,″ Thompson said, ``this kid was going to be something special.″

Last season in Pullman, the Cougars scored three fourth-quarter TDs to force overtime before the Huskies won 31-24 on Brock Huard’s 3-yard TD pass to Jerome Pathon.

Perhaps the most dramatic Apple Cup was the ’75 version in Seattle.

Washington State led 27-14 with 2:47 left and had the ball at the Huskies 14. On fourth-and-1, the Cougars inexplicably threw a pass. Al Burleson intercepted it and ran 93 yards for a TD.

The Huskies forced a punt and took over at their own 22 with under two minutes remaining. Moon threw into heavy coverage but Gaines came away with the ball at about midfield and completed a 78-yard TD play. The extra point was good, and Washington had the victory.

There were other results from that game: It clinched a winning season for James in his first year as coach; Cougars coach Jim Sweeney resigned the following week; and Thompson, a freshman, decided to stay once Sweeney departed and Jackie Sherrill replaced him.

``I was on the bench plotting my transfer because we were a running offense,″ Thompson, who went on to become known as the ``Throwin’ Samoan,″ said. ``But when Sherrill came in, I stayed because I knew we’d be throwing.″

In ’82, the Huskies were 9-1, ranked No. 5 and needed a win in Pullman for the Rose Bowl berth. Washington, trailing 21-20 in the fourth quarter, was set to take the lead as Chuck Nelson lined up for a 33-yard field goal. He had kicked 30 consecutive field goals, but this time he missed. Barely. And the Cougars _ 2-7-1 before the game _ won 24-20.

``I thought they might give it to me. Those are good at home, but we weren’t at home,″ Nelson said.

Thompson was in the stands for that one.

``We were in football nirvana,″ he said.


TRINKETS WEEK: Next Saturday is rivalry day, and here are some of the trinkets teams will be playing for: Victory Bells (Duke at North Carolina and UCLA at Southern California); Iron Bowl (Alabama at Auburn); Old Oaken Bucket (Purdue at Indiana); Governor’s Cup (Florida State-Florida); Floyd of Rosedale (Minnesota at Iowa); Beer Barrel (Tennessee-Kentucky); Axe (California at Stanford); Apple Cup (Washington at Washington State); and the Grizzly-Bobcat Painting (Montana at Montana State).

There no trophy at stake when Harvard plays at Yale. It’s simply called The Game.


PRAISE FOR LEAF: Earlier this week, Arizona State coach Bruce Snyder was asked his opinion of Washington State’s Ryan Leaf, who brought his team back from a 24-0 deficit before the Wildcats won 44-31.

``The thing I like about him, in addition to his physical abilities, was I never sensed any panic by their sideline or Ryan at all,″ he said. ``They believed in what they were doing. We’ve had some games here where the crowd is loud and the quarterback whines, but I was impressed he didn’t show any of that.″


EXTRA POINTS: Penn State coach Joe Paterno says Michigan _ 34-8 winners over the Nittany Lions on Nov. 8 _ should be No. 1, but he didn’t vote that way in last week’s coaches’ poll. Paterno admitted on Tuesday he didn’t cast his own vote, saying: ``I have somebody who helps me with the voting, and we didn’t vote for Michigan No. 1. That bothered me. I didn’t get a chance to just go down the thing and say this is the way we ought to vote, and as a result, I probably would have voted for Michigan.″ ... On Dec. 12, the Touchdown Club of America will honor the late Ernie Davis, the 1961 Heisman Trophy winner from Syracuse ... The Pac-10 finished 23-7 in nonconference games, its best effort since 1988 ... Illinois, 0-9 before Saturday’s game at No. 4 Ohio State, was working on its third winless season in 107 years of football. The Illini were 0-10 in 1969, and 0-9 in 1961.

End adv weekend editions Nov. 15-16

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