The Early Glimpse: Cougs vs. Huskies

MY PHONE IS set to give an audio alert any time someone comments or retweets to's Twitter account. It sounded like a five-alarm fire Saturday afternoon in the aftermath of Washington State's 49-37 win over Utah that clinched bowl eligibility for the first time since 2006. Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! But I can't even imagine how it will sound Friday should WSU win the Apple Cup.

Man, Cougar fans were excited Saturday. But it's one thing to become bowl eligible. It's raising the bar to another level should the Cougars win back-to-back games over the also-bowl eligible Dawgs in the second year of Mike Leach's Wazzu tenure.

It might produce one continuous ding-a-ling for hours on end. And if the Cougs win, go ahead and try to blow up my phone with comments or retweets @COUGFANcom – I have an extra battery at the ready.

Before these past two Saturdays, the last time Washington State won consecutive games in November was 2003, when the Cougars topped Arizona State and UCLA on back-to-back November weeks.

Want to really make this a season for the ages? Beat the Dawgs and win three consecutive games in November. That hasn't happened since 1997, the glorious breakthrough Rose Bowl campaign.

In fact, it's happened only three times since the Pac-12 expanded to 10 teams in 1978. The Cougars won three consecutive November games in 1983, 1988 and 1997.

Three-game winning streaks happen all the time, but to do it in November is a key sign that you have a winner. It means the team is buying in to what the coach wants to do, and is willing to persevere during a time when everyone is hurting. Not to mention it would also mean beating the Dawgs.

Cougs vs. Huskies

The kickoff: 12:30 p.m. Friday, Husky Stadium.

TV: Fox Sports

The line: Huskies by 14½ points

The series: Huskies lead 67-32-6

Last time: WSU 31, UW 28 OT

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About Washington: Hard to know what to make of these Huskies. At times, Washington (7-4, 4-4) has looked like a Pac-12 North title contender. At other times, they've looked beatable by just about any team in the conference.

Washington's four losses all came to quality opponents, as Oregon, Stanford, Arizona State and UCLA are all part of this week's Top 25. On the flip side, only the Stanford loss was close. The Huskies' best win? Well, they sure looked good in pummeling Oregon State 69-27 last Saturday. Their 31-13 win over Arizona looks a little better now that the Wildcats have a win over Oregon. UW also has a lopsided win over Boise State, but the Broncos are a shell of their former selves.

One week, Steve Sarkisian is so hot, he's a candidate for USC coach. Other weeks, UW faithful wonder if he's worthy to coach their team.

Whatever you want to make of the Huskies, they're beatable if the Cougars are on.

One thing is for sure: WSU's run defense must show up. Washington State will be facing the best running back they've seen all season in Bishop Sankey of Spokane, once a Cougar recruiting commit. The argument that can be made against that is Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey. But… But from my chair, Sankey is the best of all. He's run for at least 100 yards in eight of 11 games this season, and has 1,575 yards and 17 touchdowns. The 5-foot-10, 205-pound junior can run between the tackles, and also has a burst.

Given that Carey didn't run wild two weeks ago in the Cougars' win at Arizona, there's hope Sankey can be contained.

Early in the week, it's not known if Cyler Miles or Keith Price will quarterback UW. Price is the regular, but sat out against Oregon State with a shoulder injury. Miles is capable, as he hit 15 of 24 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown in the OSU rout.

Washington's receiving unit is down a star in Kasen Williams, out for the season with a foot injury. But the Huskies have weapons such as lumbering tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (31 catches, 361 yards, 6 TDs), Jaydon Mickens (60 for 679 yards, 5 TDs) and Kevin Smith (41 for 681, 4 TDs).

Only Oregon has a higher net yardage average in the Pac-12 than Washington, at plus 138 yards per game (524.3 yards offense, 386.5 yards defense). Another edge the Huskies have over WSU is turnover margin (UW plus 7, WSU minus 5).

Defensively, Washington's stars include defensive end Hau'oli Kikaha (eight sacks). linebacker Shaq Thompson and cornerback Marcus Peters.

The series: The Cougars' signature win of 2012 came over Washington, a stunning 31-28 victory in overtime to end an eight-game losing streak. Carl Winston ran for three touchdowns, including two during the furious fourth-quarter comeback. In overtime, WSU's defense stoned the Huskies when Toni Pole intercepted a pass and nearly returned it for a touchdown. The Cougars won it on Andrew Furney's 27-yard field goal.

The 18-point rally was the WSU's largest comeback since 1985. It also ended a three-game losing streak to UW. The Cougars last won at Husky Stadium in 2007, a 42-25 win. Washington leads the overall series 67-32-6.

Familiar faces: Washington's roster of scholarship and walk on players lists 33 in-state players. As for the coaching staff, the lone Cougar is special teams-running backs coach Johnny Nansen, a 1997 WSU grad. Offensive line coach Dan Cozzetto coached several years for former Cougar coach Dennis Erickson.

Read Nick Daschel's occasional Pac-12 ramblings at

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