APPLE CUP 2016: Upsetting the Apple Tree - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

APPLE CUP 2016: Upsetting the Apple Tree

SPOKANE, Wash. -

It’s what happens when the underdog defeats the heavy favorite. When the unexpected happens and leaves everyone shocked, wondering what they just saw. It’s unsure how the term “upset” entered the sports world, but now that it has, it’s given us some of the most memorable moments in competition, and the Apple Cup is no exception.

For 108 years the Cougars and Huskies have gotten together at the end of the season to see who reigns supreme in the Evergreen state. Friday will be the second time ever (1936) the Apple Cup has been played straight up for a title, meaning both programs have had their fair share of ups and downs.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the most memorable Apple Cup upsets since 1992 and how they’ve shaped the rivalry:

1992 “Snow Bowl” (Washington State def. No. 5 Washington 42-23)

Ask any diehard Washington State Cougar fan about the 1992 Apple Cup and it will likely bring a smile to their face. Going in, led by legendary coach Don James, the defending national champion Washington Huskies were ranked 5th in the nation and looking to win their fourth straight against WSU, but the Cougs had other ideas.

In what looked like a Winter Wonderland at Martin Stadium, head coach Mike Price and his Cougars embraced the elements and hit the Huskies with a flurry of flakes in the 2nd half including the defining moment of the season, and quite possibly the program’s history, as Drew Bledsoe threw a 44-yard touchdown to Philip Bobo who hauled it in and slid on the icy field at Martin Stadium and into the back of the end zone.

The Cougars would never look back, as they sent Don James out with a loss in the last Apple Cup he’d ever coach. Washington State would eventually beat Utah in the Copper Bowl five weeks later to finish the season 9-3.

2002 “Dawg Daze” (Washington def. No. 3 Washington State 29-26 3OT)

A decade after the epic Snow Bowl upset in favor of the Cougs, it would be the Huskies turn to shock the Palouse. Going into the 2002 Apple Cup, the 3rd ranked Washington State Cougars (9-1), led by Heisman hopeful quarterback Jason Gesser, were heavy favorites against the 6-5 Huskies.

Back then, the FBS used the Bowl Championship Series rankings to decide the top two teams that would play for the national championship. At number three, the Cougars were very much in the mix to play for the national title and just needed to win the Apple Cup, and then the season finale against UCLA to have a shot at a national title.

However, November 23rd, 2002, might go down as one of the biggest disappointments in WSU football history. Leading 17-10 in the 4th quarter, Gesser injured his ankle and was forced to miss the rest of the game. Enter in backup quarterback Matt Kegel who was now faced with the task of preserving the Cougars national title hopes.

With a 3-point lead, future NBA point guard Nate Robinson intercepted Kegel deep in Washington State territory. The Huskies would add a field goal to send the game to overtime. In fact, this game would need three overtimes, and with the rival Huskies up 29-26, Kegel and the Cougar offense would take the field hoping to push it to a fourth.

Unfortunately for WSU, the first play of their third overtime possession would become the most controversial play in Apple Cup history. Kegel attempted to throw a screen to his left, but the ball was batted by Kai Ellis, who nearly picked it off before it bounced off the Martin Stadium turf.

After a lengthy discussion, the officials would rule it as a backward pass and fumble recovered by the Huskies to end the game. The Cougars would still win the Pac-10 and go to the Rose Bowl, but would lose to a talented Oklahoma team. To make matters worse, WSU head coach Mike Price left the program to go coach at the University of Alabama. Washington followed the win with a loss to Purdue in the Sun Bowl.

2012 “Cougar Curtain Call” (Washington State def. No. 25 Washington 31-28 OT)

Funny thing about this here Apple Cup, every 10 years there seems to be a game that will go down in the rivalries’ history. In 2012 it wasn’t because of the prowess of these two teams, but because of what went down at Martin Stadium.

Led by Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian, the 25th ranked Huskies were riding a four-game winning streak and brought a 7-4 record to the Palouse to face a 2-9 Cougars team. Early on, things played out as expected; the Huskies dominated the first three quarters and led the Cougs 28-10.

But what happened next was magical for WSU fans, and a gut-punch to the UW faithful. In Cougar head coach Mike Leach’s first Apple Cup, senior quarterback Jeff Tuel and senior running back Carl Winston would play the quarter of their lives.

Overall, Tuel threw 350 yards and Winston ran for three touchdowns, neither performances were pretty I might add, but they showed the grit and determination that defines the Apple Cup. After an Andrew Furney 48-yard field goal, the 2012 Apple Cup would head to overtime.

This is where Husky fans should cover their eyes. The Dawgs would start with the ball, but on the first play of overtime, quarterback Keith Price would be pressured to throw and ill-advised pass to defensive lineman Kalafitoni Pole who intercepted it and nearly returned it back for a game-winning touchdown.

The Cougars would settle for getting the ball back knowing they only needed a field goal to avoid a 2-10 season. Four plays later, Furney would trot out onto the field to make a 27-yard field goal to stun the Huskies 31-28 in overtime. The 18-point comeback is the largest in the Apple Cup’s 108-year existence. The Cougars finished the year giving Coach Leach his first Apple Cup win, while the Huskies would later head to the Las Vegas Bowl where they lost to Boise State.

That’s just a little bite of the apple of what this rivalry can bring to the table. Friday’s match-up looks like one for the ages on paper, but if there’s anything the Apple Cup has taught us over the past 108 years, it’s to expect a roller coaster of emotions with a fantastic finish.

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