Washington (10-1, 7-1) at Washington State (8-3, 7-1)
When: Friday, November 25th 2016
Where: Martin Stadium, Pullman, WA
Time: 3:30 ET | TV: FOX
The Washington Huskies and Washington State Cougars will play in what could be the most important Apple Cup in their 108 year history on Friday afternoon in Pullman. Much is on the line especially for the Huskies, who still have hope that they can make the College Football Playoffs with a win today and then next week in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Washington rebounded from their only loss of the season (26-13 vs USC) and defeated the Arizona State Sun Devils easily, 44-18, to set up the big game. Sophomore quarterback Jake Browning has led the Huskies’ rise with his stellar play that includes a school-record 37 touchdown passes to go with 2,870 yards and only seven interceptions. He has two big-time targets in juniors John Ross (64 receptions for 991 yards and 15 touchdowns) and Dante Pettis (46 for 701, 12 scores). Sophomore running back Myles Gaskin is also enjoying a breakout season with 1,130 yards and nine touchdowns. The defense has lost key players in linebackers Azeem Victor (67 tackles) and Joe Mathis (five sacks) with season-ending injuries, but junior inside linebacker Keishawn Bierria leads the nation with five fumble recoveries. The Huskies have held opponents to an average of 17.9 points a game – 12th best in the nation.
The Cougars don’t have a shot at the playoffs thanks to a miserable 0-2 start, but a win Friday coupled with a victory in the Pac-12 Championship Game, will put them in the Rose Bowl. Their eight-game winning streak was snapped last week with a 38-24 at Colorado, who now ranks 8th in the current CFP rankings. The nation’s second-leading passing attack is led by Junior quarterback Luke Falk, who has 35 touchdowns passes (three off the school record he set last season) and he ranks third nationally with 3,935 passing yards. Falk (87) is four touchdown passes away from breaking the Cougars’ record set by Connor Halliday (90 from 2011-14). Senior receiver Gabe Marks (74 catches, 12 touchdowns) became the 13th player in FBS history to top 300 career receptions – he stands at 301 – and his 36 career touchdown catches are five shy of the Pac-12 record held by USC’s Dwayne Jarrett (2004-06). Washington State did lose second-leading receiver River Crafcraft for the season a few weeks ago, but Kyle Sweet stepped up last week with a season-high five receptions for 54 yards. Senior free safety Shalom Luani has a team-best four interceptions and junior middle linebacker Peyton Pelluer has a team-leading 80 tackles for a defense allowing 25.5 points per game.
This rivalry game will take center-stage on Friday and it should be a good one. I don’t see either team blowing the other out as both offenses can score quickly. I like the points in this one and I’m calling for a Washington State upset victory.
Pick: Washington State +6