College Football Players Colleges

Huskies, Cougars Vie For Apple Cup Victory

NCAA Football betting handicappers know that the Washington Huskies’ postseason hopes looked dead at the beginning of November. Now, the boys from Seattle will try to punch a ticket to a bowl on the first Saturday of December.

The Washington Huskies were 3-6 a few weeks ago and headed toward an early conclusion to their season. Frankly, UW has not played all that well in its last two games against UCLA and California, but its opponents played even worse. The Huskies prevailed against the Bruins and the Golden Bears and are now 5-6, meaning that a win would make them eligible for a bowl game and give a needed boost to the program that hasn’t been to a bowl since the 2002 season. That’s a remarkably long drought for the same school that made three straight Rose Bowls in the 1990s and split the 1991 national championship in the polls with Miami (Florida).

What Washington Has To Do To Win

The Huskies need to block people. Washington quarterback Jake Locker has been injured this season, and he hasn’t performed all that well, either. However, with those two things having been said, UW’s gifted (albeit erratic) athlete under center has not enjoyed good blocking from his offensive line. Against a Washington State defense that will be fired up and has had not one, not two, but three weeks to prepare for this game, Washington needs to muscle up in the trenches and play a very physical game. This contest is not a slam dunk for the Huskies – not just because it’s a rivalry game, but because UW is playing a motivated and rested opponent that has gotten better in 2010. Coach Steve Sarkisian’s club must execute crisply on offense and not give a woeful Washington State offense any added advantages in this contest; in order to perform those tasks, Washington’s offensive front has to excel.

What Washington State Has To Do To Win

Though the Cougars have won only one Pac-10 game this season, they’ve gotten a lot better under third-year coach Paul Wulff. Washington State pushed UCLA, Cal, Arizona, and – for two quarters – Oregon, the league champion. The Cougars’ last game was on Nov. 13, a 17-point win at Oregon State. With three weeks to get ready for this game, film study needs to pay off for Wazzu.

When the Cougars look at film, they’ll notice the many ways in which they can attack Washington’s offensive line. Wulff and his staff need to win this game on defense. They need to find ways to blitz Jake Locker without giving up running lanes to a man who can burn them as a scrambler. Washington State wants to keep Locker in the pocket and force him to throw the ball. If Washington can establish success on the ground, WSU is in big trouble. Making the Huskies a pass-only team has to be the Cougars’ foremost priority in this contest.