2010 Apple Cup: Washington Drops Washington State To Become Bowl Eligible

The Washington State Cougars play host to the Washington Huskies in the Apple Cup this Saturday at 4 p.m. Jake Locker and the Huskies have a lot on the line, playing for bowl eligibility in the season finale.

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Apple Cup 2010: Washington Huskies Finish Strong Behind Three-Pronged Attack

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With the game tied and the season on the line, the Washington Huskies turned to the three players they have all year to finish the game. In 2010, the Huskies have had a knack for coming up big in close games, winning four of their six games by a combined 12 points. And again, in the Apple Cup, they did just that, on the backs of Jake Locker, Chris Polk and Jermaine Kearse.

Locker, playing in his final regular season game, and final Apple Cup, threw for 226 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. On the ground, he added 29 yards and a touchdown, though the senior quarterback had a 77-yard touchdown run called back in the first quarter. Time and time again, Locker came up big in crucial situations. On fourth and one, Locker avoided the rush, making Washington State defensive end Travis Long miss, to pick up the first down. And, finally, with the game tied, Locker found Kearse for 27 yards and the game-winning score.

Chris Polk has been a punishing back all season, picking up crucial yards after contact while making defenders miss. Following the game, Washington State safety Deone Bucannon praised Polk while mentioning just how tough he was to bring down. For his efforts, Polk was rewarded with 284 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Like Locker, Polk was there in crucial situations, breaking-off runs of 57 and 72 yards with the Cougars knocking at the door.

Jermaine Kearse may have been the hero of the game. On fourth down, with the punt team on, UW punter Kiel Rasp found Kearse on a fake, as Kearse went up high to pull-in the pass over Nolan Washington. On the third play of the second half, Locker found Polk for 66 yards and a touchdown to kill any momentum the Cougars had. With time running out and the Huskies needing the score to seal the game, Locker again found Kearse on a fade, sealing the victory for Washington and sending the Huskies to a bowl.

Three players, three big games. The efforts of Kearse, Locker and Polk prolonged the Huskies season, putting them into a bowl game with a crucial Apple Cup win.

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Apple Cup 2010: Washington Huskies Use Late-Game Heroics To Drop Cougars, 35-28

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The Washington Huskies, as they have countless times this season, found a way to pull-out a win at the wire, dropping the Washington State Cougars in the Apple Cup, 35-28. Chris Polk put the Huskies on the edge of field goal range with a 36-yard run late in the fourth quarter. A crucial fourth down conversion got the Huskies closer, but Jake Locker made it all moot. Locker found Jermaine Kearse from 27-yards out for the game-winning touchdown.

Polk finished the game with 284 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries. It was a career-high for the UW sophomore. Jermaine Kearse caught six passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns. Kearse and Polk were Cougar killers, carving up the Washington State defense all day.

On the other side of the ball, Jeff Tuel had another great day at quarterback. Tuel threw for 298 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Daniel Blackledge had a career-high 132 yards and a touchdown for the Cougs. Marquess Wilson tied the game late with 4:26 to go, snagging a 16-yard Tuel strike. James Montgomery added 78 yards on 12 carries.

The Huskies are bowl-eligible with the win and await an invitation. The likely landing spot, with the Pac-10 lacking in eligible teams, is the Holiday Bowl. The Cougs finished the year at 2-10.

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Apple Cup 2010: Huskies Break It Open With Chris Polk Touchdown Run

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It’s the Chris Polk show in Pullman in the Apple Cup. The Husky tailback has ran over the Cougars all afternoon, picking up 220 yards on the ground. It’s a career-high for Polk and he becomes the first Husky running back over 200-yards in an Apple Cup since Rashaan Shehee. The last of those yards came on a 56-yard touchdown run that likely sealed the game for the Huskies. With 13 minutes to go, Washington leads Washington State, 28-14.

The Washington Huskies were stuffed at the goal-line to open the fourth quarter. Jake Locker and Jesse Callier got crossed-up from the one yard line. The ball hit the turf, allowing Kevin Kooyman to scoop it up and rumbled to about midfield.

The Cougars, however, couldn’t take advantage either. On fourth down, Jeff Tuel dropped back to pass, but was sack, giving the Huskies the ball back. On the next play, Polk worked his magic, finding the end zone and striking what may prove to be the death blow.

Early in the fourth quarter, Washington leads Washington State, 28-14.

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Apple Cup 2010: Washington Huskies Lead Washington State Cougars, 21-14

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The Washington Huskies came out of the half firing after losing momentum in the second quarter. On the third play from scrimmage, Jake Locker found Jermaine Kearse for 66 yards and the score, putting the Huskies back on top by two touchdowns. Just 1:30 into the third quarter, Washington was back in control of the Apple Cup.

The Cougars responded, throwing together a drive of their own to pull within seven. Jeff Tuel found Daniel Blackledge uncovered in the middle of the field for the score. Blackledge came up huge on the drive, picking-up 18 yards on 1st and 25 after another illegal block pushed the Cougars backwards.

The Cougs stopped Washington on third down at the one yard-line to end the third quarter. A touchdown here could end it. Knowing how Steve Sarkisian works, it seems likely the Huskies will go for it.

After three quarters, it’s Washington over Washington State, 21-14

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Apple Cup 2010: Washington Leads Washington State At The Half, 14-7

The Washington Huskies were threatening to run away with the Apple Cup until a late second quarter interception by Washington State safety Deone Bucannon in the end zone. Up 14-0, Washington quarterback Jake Locker looked for Jermaine Kearse in the back of the end zone, but Bucannon stepped in front, picking it off and giving the Cougars a chance. Jeff Tuel and the Cougar offense cashed-in, driving 80 yards in the two-minute offense for the score.

Tuel found Jared Karstetter in the back of the end zone for five yards and the score to bring the Cougs with a touchdown, 14-7. Outside of the late heroics, Washington State was dominated statistically, as the Huskies outgained the Cougars 234-135, including 100-56 on the ground. Chris Polk led the way for the Huskies, picking up 78 yards on 13 carries.

The quarterback battle has yet to deliver, with both Locker and Tuel struggling through the first half of play. Tuel threw for 79 yards and a touchdown on 9-15 passing. Locker wasn’t much better, throwing for 104 yards and an interception on 9-13 passing.

At the half, it’s Washington over Washington State, 14-7

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Apple Cup 2010: Huskies Lead Cougars After First Quarter, 7-0

The Washington Huskies put the Washington State in a meat-grinder, spitting the Cougs out after a 16-play, 98-yard touchdown drive that spanned 8:31. The Huskies did it on the ground, using 54 yards from Chris Polk to sustain the drive. Polk, with those 54 yards, is over 2,000 yards for his career.

The Cougars had Jake Locker bottled-up on fourth and one, but Jake Locker escaped the grasp of Travis Long, rumbling for the first down. The Huskies capitalized from there, when Chris Polk carried a defender into the end zone.

It’s been a tale of mistakes for Washington State today, with three first quarter chop blocks backing the Cougar offense up. Despite moving the ball well on the first possession, the Cougs were forced to punt with the ball at the Washington 44. Reid Forrest pinned the Huskies back at the two, and the rest is history.

After a quarter of play, it’s the Huskies over the Cougars, 7-0.

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Apple Cup 2010: Last Minute, Pre-Game Thoughts

Both the Washington Huskies and Washington State Cougars have taken the field for warmups ahead of the 2010 Apple Cup in Pullman. Both teams are fired up, with a little skirmish taking place as a few of the Washington players headed to the Cougar logo on the 50-yard line to do a little pogo. Washington State took exception, and there was a meeting of the minds. And that’s all it was. Cooler heads prevailed and the teams headed off on their merry ways.

For the fashion folks, Washington is wearing black pants, white jerseys and gold helmets. On the other side of the field, Washington State has crimson pants, crimson jerseys and grey helmets, with a script Cougar logo. The Cougar uniform is a throwback to the days of old.

As for the weather, it’s cold. Very cold. And yet, there was Quinten Richardson, Mason Foster and Jesse Callier, warming-up without shirts on. Frostbite be damned, they were determined to show off their macho sides.

The Cougars and Huskies kick the Apple Cup off at 4 p.m. on Versus.

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Apple Cup 2010: Keys To The Game

Washington and Washington State take the field at 4 p.m. in Pullman today to battle it out for the state of Washington’s highest honor: the Apple Cup. The Washington Huskies hold the cup, defeating the Washington State Cougars in Seattle last season 30-0. The game shifts to Pullman this year, where the Cougars look to take the Apple Cup back and keep the Huskies out of the bowl.

Ahead of today’s game, we’ll look at some of the keys to victory for each side, and the battles to watch.

Chris Polk, Jesse Callier and Jake Locker vs. the Cougar front seven: With weather well below freezing in Pullman, the running game takes center stage. The Huskies, behind bruising back Chris Polk and speedster Jesse Callier, have been able to pound the ball recently, capped by Polk’s one-yard plunge as time expired against the Cal Bears last Saturday. The Cougars must slow down the Husky run-game, including limiting Jake Locker’s opportunities to scramble, to have a chance in the Apple Cup. Unfortunately for WSU, run defense hasn’t been a strong point.

Jeff Tuel vs. the Washington defense: Tuel has the arm to burn a defense deep and the legs to take off if protection breaks down. The Huskies must keep containment on Tuel and keep the sophomore quarterback from taking off and gashing them on the ground. Tuel, however, is not one-dimensional, and has shown the ability to pick a defense apart from the pocket. His legs will test the front seven, while his arm will test the secondary.

Marquess Wilson and Jared Karstetter vs. The UW secondary: Wilson has had an outstanding freshman year, showing the ability to stretch the defense with his speed and out-jump smaller corners with his size and leaping ability. Karstetter is Tuel’s safety valve, demonstrating sure-hands and crisp route running underneath. How Desmond Trufant and Quinton Richardson handle these two could be pivotal for the Huskies.

The offensive lines (both teams): The Cougs and Huskies have two of the worst offensive lines in the conference. That will be on full display today as they take the field for the Apple Cup. Both defensive coordinators are sure to dial-up the pressure in an effort to rattle the opposing quarterbacks. With Senio Kelemente dealing with a sprained ankle suffered at the end of Washington’s win over Cal, the Huskies may have to do some shuffling. The Cougars are in the same boat, struggling to find continuity and a combination that works. It could be a long day for both quarterback.

Washington and Washington State take the field at 4 p.m. to battle it out for the Apple Cup, live on Versus.

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Apple Cup, 2010: Jeff Tuel A Rising Star For The Cougars

Sophomore quarterback Jeff Tuel is the biggest reason Washington State was able to shock the Oregon State Beavers in Corvallis the last time the Cougars took the field. An under the radar recruit, Tuel took the reigns for Washington State as a true freshman, and has steadily progressed ever since. In 2010, Tuel has become everything the Cougars could hope for and more; a young leader, emerging passer and a dual-threat in the Cougars spread offense. If one player is going to stop the Huskies dead in their tracks, it will be Tuel.

Tuel opened eyes as soon as he set foot on the Washington State campus in Pullman. Without a steady quarterback entrenched as the started, Tuel put on a show in fall camp, leading many to wonder if the Cougs would play him right away. They didn’t deciding to redshirt the freshman, if only momentarily. Four games into the season, the redshirt was off, and Tuel was thrown straight into the fire, against the USC Trojans at The Coliseum.

It was then we got a glimpse of what Tuel could do. His stats weren’t eye-popping, only 14-22 for 130 yards, but it was the plays he made with his feet, escaping the pressure to pick up yardage, and the poise he demonstrated that left fans salivating for the future. A 354-yard passing day against California showed Tuel could be a prolific passer, but the freshman went down with an injury against Arizona, ending his season.

Today will be Tuel’s first Apple Cup as a starter. Since taking the job as a wide-eyed freshman, Tuel has matured in leaps and bounds. In 2010, Tuel has thrown for 2482 yards and 15 touchdowns, completing passes at a 58.6 percent rate.

But it isn’t just Tuel’s arm that strikes fear in opposing defenses. As the Washington State coaching staff has allowed Tuel to run more late in the season, the Cougar offense has reaped the benefits. Last time out, against Oregon State, it was the running game taking center stage. The Cougar run-game had been subpar all season, but behind Tuel’s 79 rushing yards, the Cougars got it going, grinding out a win. The threat of the sophomore quarterbacks feet was on full display as he fake the option, stepped back and floated a 31-yard strike to freshman Marquess Wilson for the score in the second half.

Standing in the way of a bowl game for the Washington Huskies is Tuel and the Cougars. Washington’s ability to slow the sophomore will be telling and could just make the difference in the game. One thing is for sure: Washington State has something special going at quarterback and should continue to be excited for the future with Tuel at the helm.

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Apple Cup, 2010: Jake Locker's Last Stand

It all comes down to this for Washington senior Jake Locker. One last game, one last chance to finish what he started at UW. In the face of first-round money in the NFL Draft, Locker spurned the overtures, returning to Washington for his fifth, and final, year. The goal: a bowl game. The Huskies are one game away, with only the Washington State Cougars standing in the way.

Locker has seen his draft stock fall in 2010, leaving one to wonder if a return was worth it. Should the Huskies make a bowl, however, it will serve as vindication for the senior quarterback, giving him a chance to leave his mark on the program.

His fifth year hasn’t been easy, by any means. Plagued by nagging injuries, the worst of which came in the form of a broken rib, Locker has seen his accuracy fall coming-off a banner year in 2009. His completion percentage is down, to 56.1 percent from 58.2 percent, and his passing yardage is down, to 1983 yards from 2800 in 2009.

Playing behind a patchwork line, the Huskies’ signal-caller has taken an immense amount of heat from opposing defenses while absorbing punishing hits along the way. The results have been painful, both for Locker and fans of the Huskies. A bruised thigh earlier in the season limited his mobility while a broken rib made it nearly impossible to utilize Locker’s biggest weapon: his legs.

And yet, here we are. Two must-win games in the rear-view mirror and the Huskies are one game away. If Locker can lead the Huskies to one more victory, and a good bowl game to boot, his legend will grow. If not, the dream dies in Pullman today. Washington fans hope he has one more dose of magic in him.

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