Monday, November 29, 2010

Apple Cup Thoughts

I've been going to this game since 1968. I was 9 years old then. That was then, and this is now.

It's still as exciting of a week as ever.

Things are a lot different now for both programs. The Huskies aren't the powerhouse they were in the Don James era when they manhandled teams with their mammoth offensive line. They always had a dominating defensive tackle. Ball control and the kicking game were two key components that won many games for them.

Boy have times changed.

The Huskies enter this year's Apple Cup game hoping to land a bid in the Alamo Bowl, Sun Bowl, or perhaps the Holiday Bowl, not long ago going to the number two team in the Pac Ten Conference.

Not this year.

With Oregon on it's way to the national championship game and Stanford, say what?, possibly headed to the BCS Championship Series, one would think this is a changed conference, especially with the new additions making it the Pac 12. Oregon, a former doormat in the Pac Ten Conference along with it's sidekick Oregon State, has progressed into the premier program in the conference, and perhaps the west coast. Chip Kelly is changing the game with his high powered, quick strike offense that drives defenses crazy, especially when the fourth quarter arrives.

Then there's Washington State. The team with really no identity and still many questions loom over the future of head coach Paul Wulff. In his weekly talk show, WSU Athletic Director Bill Moos still refrains from answering questions about the future of Wulff. After an impressive 31-14 win over Oregon State in Corvallis on November 13Th, the Cougs have been waiting for their arch rivals to arrive in Pullman. The game features a new twist now with the resurgence of the Husky program generating two wins over UCLA and Cal in successive weeks. It used to be expected and is now treated as one of the two biggest wins in school history. "God's play" is what people are calling the one yard touchdown run by Chris Polk as time was running out in the victory over Cal last weekend. Husky fans bombarded the field like they were headed to their first Rose Bowl.

When the final bell rings Saturday, there's a few scenarios that could unfold. We will finally find out the future of Paul Wulff and whether he will be able to fulfill the final year of his four year contract. Will the Huskies go to a bowl game for the first time in years?

Back in Anne Arbor, Jim Harbaugh will be named the new head coach at the University of Michigan, leaving Stanford for his treasured job.

And Paul Wulff will be packing his bags, for another recruiting trip for the 2011 season.

No comments: