The Washington St. Cougars entered Friday's game with a forgettable season behind them. No one really gave them much of a chance against the Washington Huskies, who are headed to another bowl game this winter, and given the controversy that has surrounded the program in recent weeks, WSU was a prime candidate to be blown out.
Sometimes, crazy things happen in rivalry games. The Cougars fell behind early, but a furious comeback tied the game up late. Washington had a chance to win in the closing seconds and failed. Washington State took advantage, and now they have the Apple Cup in coach Mike Leach's first season.
Coug Center, SB Nation's fine WSU blog, reflected on what was a memorable day at Martin Stadium:
Around the 30-yard-line, after the trophy celebration, Joe Salave'a, Robert Barber and Xavier Cooper grabbed Butch and posed for a picture. It was like watching kids on Christmas, celebrating as they open the best present ever. All around, players and coaches were soaking in the moment, basking in the glow of the unexpected.
Leach and his staff can build off this feeling, this game. They can build off a team that fought back and kept swinging until the very end of the Apple Cup. They can bottle this up and take it forward into the offseason. And maybe someday they can look back on it as the point where everything clicked after a season of struggles.
Having momentum within a program can mean a lot once offseason workouts begin. The Cougars might not have won as many games as they hoped for in 2012, but there is no denying this team has the fight to come back and make a run next season.