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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.