Huskies Hope To Spoil Rival's Bowl Aspirations
Nov. 18, 2006
PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) - What better way to end a dismal seasonthan to beat your cross-state rival and deny them a trip to apostseason bowl game?
Washington has that mind-set as it travels to Pullman to take onWashington State in Martin Stadium Saturday in a matchup of thestate's Pacific-10 Conference rivals.
Washington State desperately needs a win to secure one of sixbowl spots reserved for Pac-10 teams. A victory would be theCougars' third straight over the Huskies and that's never happenedin the 98-game Apple Cup series between the two schools.
A Washington win would help ease the pain of six straight lossesafter starter Isaiah Stanback's season ended with a broken foot,and would make the Huskies the spoiler.
'That's hopefully one of the things that will be on the mindsof our guys,' Washington coach Tyrone Willingham said. 'Yes,you'd like to be able to do that.'
The Huskies (4-7, 2-6 Pac-10) are led by Carl Bonnell, a juniorwho signed a letter of intent with WSU but transferred toWashington after a 'grayshirt' semester in Pullman.
His open scholarship went to Alex Brink, who has led the Cougarsto rare back-to-back victories over Washington the last twoseasons.
Washington State (6-5, 4-4) is bowl-eligible, but in alllikelihood needs a seventh victory and a winning conference recordto be invited to a postseason bowl game.
The Cougars posted a 6-3 record with losses to top-ranked teamsAuburn, Southern Cal and California, then lost their last twogames.
There is motivation and pressure on both sides of the Cascades.
'The feeling is we have to win this game,' WSU wide receiverJason Hill said this week. 'The coaches are feeling pressure. Theplayers are feeling pressure from everywhere, so it's time towin.'
Bonnell, who roomed in Pullman with an older brother who was awalk-on linebacker for WSU, has nothing to lose and everything togain.
'There's a lot of extra motivation. You know the players there,you know the atmosphere, you've been in the front row of MartinStadium watching the Apple Cup,' Bonnell said. 'Just having theopportunity to go out there and finish the season off on the rightfoot is just a huge opportunity.'
A dozen straight games without a bye have left both teamsailing.
Bonnell suffered a thigh bruise in the Stanford game, but willstart against the Cougars, who saw their two top receivers, Hilland Michael Bumpus, sidelined by high ankle sprains in the Arizonagame Nov. 4.
Their status for the game was doubtful.
WSU defensive end Mkristo Bruce, who has 10 sacks, is hobbled bya sore right knee, but Willingham doesn't think that will have aneffect.
'I think, No. 1, I look at them defensively, and even thoughhe's slightly limping a little bit, their all-star defensive end isone of the better players in our conference,' Willingham said.'They are a good solid unit that I think has a spectacularplayer.'
'The quarterback, Brink, I love the things he adds to theirfootball team,' Willingham said.
Brink knows the Huskies always play their best games against theCougars. Both teams will forget about previous games to get a winin the Apple Cup, he said.
UW senior wide receiver Sonny Shackleford agrees.
'Especially if we bring the Apple Cup back to Seattle. That'sall we're looking at,' he said. 'I'm not worried about the last11 games we've played. That's history. I'm worried about Wazzucoming up.'
WSU fourth-year coach Bill Doba would become the only WSU coachever to beat the Huskies three straight.
A victory to end the regular season would give the winner a legup in fierce intrastate recruiting of blue chip players, Doba said.
'It's important, No. 1, to our seniors. We want to send themout with a win,' Doba said. 'As far as the long-term programimplications, it's important, but not the end of the world if wedon't win.'
Doba's star defensive end, Bruce, sees it a bit differently.
Bruce grew up in Renton and wore Cougars colors to Spirit Day injunior high school, but idolized Washington's star running backNapoleon Kaufman.
Beating the Huskies three straight would put a cherry atop thisseason, he said.
'Not so much just to set history, but the fact we get to end onsuch a good note,' he said. 'That would be huge for our program.It would be huge to send our seniors off with a win against theHuskies.'