Huskies Claim Apple Cup, Steal Cougars’ Hopes of a Pac-12 Title
SEATTLE (AP) — Myles Gaskin ran for 192 yards and four touchdowns, Washington forced four turnovers, and the No. 15 Huskies ended No. 14 Washington State's hopes for a Pac-12 North title with a 41-14 thumping Saturday night.
The Apple Cup remained decorated in purple for the fifth straight year thanks to a thorough domination by Washington (10-2, 8-2 Pac-12, No. 17 CFP) that was punctuated by Gaskin's runs and a suffocating defense that made the night miserable for Luke Falk in his final regular season game.
It was a major flop for Washington State (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12, No. 13 CFP), needing only a victory to win its first Pac-12 North title and earn a spot in the conference title game Friday against Southern California. Washington State had memorable Apple Cup wins over the Huskies in 1997 and 2007 in Seattle.
This is one the Cougars would like to immediately forget.
Falk, the Pac-12 record-holder in a number of passing categories, threw three interceptions and had a costly fumble. He was under pressure all night as Vita Vea and the rest of defensive front was able to get pressure while rushing just three defenders and closed off gaps in the secondary. Falk was 37-of-55 passing for 369 yards and a late TD to Tay Martin, helping continue coach Mike Leach's streak of never being shut out.
For the fourth straight season, Washington put the Apple Cup away in the first half. Washington led 24-0 at halftime and has outscored the Cougars 90-13 in the first half of the past four meetings.
Gaskin had three short TD runs and a memorable 26-yard scoring run in the third quarter that will rank among the best of his career. Gaskin shook Sean Harper at the line of scrimmage, sprinted to the sideline and kept his balance enough while being pushed by Hunter Dale to leap for the pylon and finish the 26-yard TD run. Gaskin had 114 yards rushing in the first half.
What was a matchup of the top two defenses in the Pac-12 was completely one-sided. Washington dominated. Washington State was bullied.
The Cougars were allowing just 130 yards per game rushing and led the Pac-12 in sacks. The Huskies rushed for 328 yards and quarterback Jake Browning never was sacked until the first play of the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, Falk was constantly under duress. Falk was sacked five times and his mistakes came at critical points when Washington State had opportunities to remain in touch with the Huskies. His fumble may have been the most critical as he was hit by Keishawn Bierria and fumbled at the Cougars 28. Two plays later, Browning plowed in from the 1 to give Washington a 14-0 lead.
Washington dominated despite playing most of the night without leading receiver Dante Pettis and running back Lavon Coleman. Pettis suffered a left leg injury on a punt return in the first quarter and Coleman appeared to hurt his lower left leg later in the quarter. Both players were on the sideline but did not return.
Washington State: The undersized defensive line for the Cougars was overmatched, constantly getting pushed off the ball. It didn't help that defensive standout Hercules Mata'afa was flagged for targeting on the first drive of the second half and was ejected
Washington: Vea, a junior, wasn't announced with Washington's seniors but likely played his last home game for the Huskies. The junior showed why the NFL can't wait to get their hands on his combination of athleticism and power as he overmatched the Cougars offensive line.
Washington State: Regular season over. The Cougars will wait a week to find out bowl assignment.
Washington: Regular season over. The Huskies wait a week to find out bowl assignment.