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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.