Why the Huskies will be favored in Apple Cup

BARRING A MAJOR collapse by Washington at Oregon State this Saturday, you can almost write it in stone: the Huskies will be favored to beat the Cougars on Nov. 27.

But the Cougars are rated nationally and have a budding Heisman candidate, you say. And if they beat Colorado they’ll be at eight wins for the first time since the days of Kegel, Coleman, Acholonu, Derting and the gang.

All fine and well, but proverbial dollars to doughnuts, the Huskies will be favored in the Apple Cup. And, frankly, it's hard to argue the reasons why.

The second half at UCLA last week not withstanding, the Dawgs have a better defense than the Cougs on paper. The last two weeks notwithstanding, UW has had better special teams. Plus, they’ll be playing at home, which is worth an automatic three points in the eyes of spread setters.

That’s three out of the Big Four boxes to check going to the purple side of the equation. Moreover, given the way Las Vegas has handicapped the Cougs this year (see related story below) it's harder still to see WSU being installed as the favorite.

The Cougars’ lone advantage of the Big Four from Las Vegas' view: Offense.

But here’s where things get interesting. How much relative weight does each box carry?

Is the Cougar offense so machine-like efficient that it offsets the UW’s home-field and special teams advantages?

If the game does just come down to good old fashioned O vs. D (i.e. no blocked punts or big kick returns turning the tide), how do you assess what will happen when:

The No. 21 offense in the nation (WSU’s) takes on the No. 40 defense (UW’s), and the No. 85 offense (UW) battles the No. 94 defense (WSU)?

Let the speculation begin. The call here is that it’s going to be a great game. And when the dust settles, four words — explosion plays and turnovers — will tell the tale of who wins and who loses.

RELATED STORY: Why oddsmakers miss so badly on WSU each week

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