5 Legendary Apple Cup Stat Monsters

RIVALRY GAMES, they say, bring out the best in every player. And the following five Cougars proved it more than once. Looking only at offense, these are the Cougfan.com picks as the five greatest Apple Cup gamers on the crimson side of the annual battle over the last 50 years.

The key to making this list was extraordinary work in more than one Apple Cup. Two of the five choices blew up the stat sheet in two games apiece, two others in three games, and one in four games.

Here they are:

1. QB ALEX BRINK (2004-07)

Make no mistake, he is in a class all his own. Just as the Huskies look at Hugh McElhenny as the gold standard of Apple Cup excellence, Brink (pictured above) is the benchmark for Washington State. His name will be connected to this game for as long as it's played. By every measure -- wins, stats, sheer drama -- there has never been an Apple Cupper like Brink. Consider the evidence: Three victories in four starts; 1,185 passing yards; 11 TD passes and one rushing TD. Moreover, the 2005 and 2007 games were won with scoring strikes in the waning moments to Trandon Harvey and Brandon Gibson, respectively. But for a special teams let down in 2006, Brink would have been a perfect four-for-four in the Cup.

Ryan Leaf: 900 passing yards.
2. QB RYAN LEAF (1995-97)

For pure heart-pumping excitement, the three Apple Cups that Leaf started were off the charts. Every single game went down to the final snap. The first one, in 1995 in Seattle, marked Leaf's first college start and was lost on a last-minute UW field goal, The second one went south in overtime when Chad Carpenter's toe was ruled out of bounds on a would-be TD catch. And the last one, well, that was not just a memorable Cougar victory but the biggest win in 67 years because it put WSU in the Rose Bowl. In all, Leaf completed 58 of 105 Apple Cup passes for 900 yards and four TDs. He finished third in Heisman Trophy voting following the 1997 Cup.

Harrison: 361 rushing yards.

The JC transfer lined up against the Huskies just twice, but oh what a history he left. In the Cougs' 28-25 victory in 2004, he rushed 29 times for 154 yards and returned a kickoff 19 yards. In WSU's 26-22 win in 2005, the consensus All-American slashed and dashed for 207 yards and one TD on 36 carries and also caught five passes for 40. We'll do the math: 2 games, 2 victories, 361 rushing yards, 5.5 yards per carry. His 1,900 rushing yards in 2005 was the fifth-most in conference history and made him the nation's regular-season rushing champion that year. He finished in the top 10 in Heisman Trophy voting.

Mayes: 332 rushing yards.
4. RB RUEBEN MAYES (1984-85)

Like Harrison, this two-time Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year started two Apple Cups and assaulted the box score in the process, rushing for a collective 332 yards in the two games. The 1985 contest, a 21-20 Cougar victory in ice covered Husky Stadium, ranks as the coldest Apple Cup ever: 20 degrees at kickoff. Mayes went on to a top 10 finish in Heisman Trophy voting and then earned NFL Rookie of the Year honors. He has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Campbell: 309 receiving yards.
5. WR HUGH CAMPBELL (1960-62)

The legendary "Phantom of the Palouse" was the nation's leading receiver two years running, and his Apple Cup production illustrated just how prolific he was. In three starts versus the Huskies, he caught 20 passes for 309 yards and 2 touchdowns. All three games were tight ones, decided by one, four and five points, respectively. Alas, the Huskies won all three. Campbell's last game was his most impressive of the three, as he caught 10 Dave Mathieson passes for 178 yards and one TD.

Of course, no mention of great Apple Cup production would be complete without an ode to the 1992 contest in Pullman. The wind was blowing, the snow was coming down, and the field was covered. Through it all, quarterback Drew Bledsoe managed to throw for 259 yards and two touchdowns (one of them, to Phillip Bobo, perhaps the most iconic image in rivalry history), while running back Shaumbe Wright-Fair racked up 194 ground yards and scored on TD runs of 3, 51 and 41 yards in the 42-23 WSU victory. Another iconic moment was Wright-Fair making snow angels in the end zone after his final TD.

Bobo and Davis grapple for Bledsoe TD pass that keyed third-quarter Cougar avalanche in 1992.

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