FACE IT, THE television age and the plain old passage of time skews any effort to pick an all-time anything. But if you contain your analysis to the "modern era," tap the collective brain trust of those who've seen 'em all in that time period, and make no bones about the fact you view the world through crimson-colored glasses, you may be onto something.
So here it is, in descending order: CF.C's picks for the five greatest Apple Cups of the last 50 years.
5. 2012 IN PULLMAN: COUGS 31, UW 28 in OT
A CELEBRATION TO REMEMBER
The Cougars entered the Apple Cup having not beaten a Pac-12 team all season -- or any team since Sept. 14. The Huskies, projected as 13 ½-point favorites, looked poised for a fourth consecutive series victory after opening up an 18-point lead in the third quarter. But Washington State
refused to die in the final game of Mike Leach
's inaugural season, and fought back to tie the game at 28-all on an Andrew Furney
field goal in the final two minutes. With just five seconds left, UW kicker Travis Coons
' 35-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right, sending the game into overtime -- and setting up one of the most epic moments in Apple Cup history. On the opening possession of overtime, with WSU end Logan Mayes
wrapped around UW quarterback Keith Price's waist, Price inexplicably threw the ball up for grabs over his shoulder, whereupon 277-pound nose tackle Toni Pole
intercepted and rumbled 60-plus yards down the field before being tackled at the UW 5 by wide receiver Cody Bruns. Four plays later, Furney drilled the winning 27-yard field goal. Pandemonium on the Palouse!
4. 1988 IN PULLMAN: COUGS 32, UW 31
THE LAW FIRM OF LANDRUM & LANGUEN AT YOUR SERVICE
This Apple Cup had rare bowl implications for both teams, and is most memorable for a single play. When the teams met on the Palouse, WSU already had a bowl berth locked, and UW was looking to do the same. The Huskies came out swinging and took a 21-9 lead after the first quarter, but the Cougars battled back, eventually finding themselves down only 28-26. The Huskies kicked a field goal to widen their lead to five in the fourth quarter – and then Shawn Landrum blocked Eric Canton's punt and Jay Langein's recovery at the UW 13 set up the winning touchdown, Timm Rosenbach's fourth-and-goal keeper at the UW 4. The Huskies' season was over, and the Cougars went on to beat Houston in the Aloha Bowl.
3. 1992 IN PULLMAN: COUGS 42, UW 23
The Huskies may have been flying high coming into the Apple Cup as defending national champions, but it turned out that snow was their kryptonite. In a powder covered Martin Stadium where the kickoff temperature hovered around 30 degrees (but the wind chill made it feel like 15), Drew Bledsoe & Co. racked up 476 yards of total offense to defeat Washington 42-23 in the "Snow Bowl" – and earn a berth to the Copper Bowl. The snow was expected to impede Washington State's spread offense, but it ended up enhancing it. All-American candidate Bledsoe finished the game 18 of 30 for 260 yards and two touchdowns with the support of wide receivers Philip Bobo and C.J. Davis. Bobo's stunning 44-yard catch while sliding into a snowbank in the back of the west end zone – accompanied by Davis – was particularly memorable as it started the Cougars' scoring onslaught after trailing 7-6 at the half. California native Shaumbe Wright-Fair turned out to be masterful in snow, rushing for 194 yards on 22 carries and three touchdowns. His Husky counterpart, Napoleon Kaufman, couldn't get his footing on the ice – literally – and tallied just 45 yards in the game.
2. 1982 IN PULLMAN: COUGS 24, UW 20
TIM HARRIS WALTZES TO SIX.
You know it's been an epic game when Martin Stadium's goalposts end up at the bottom of the Palouse River. A hopelessly banged-up Cougar team with just two wins took the field for the first Apple Cup in Pullman in 28 years, and pulled off the greatest upset in series history. Led by a running attack featuring Tim Harris and orchestrated by quarterback Clete Casper, Washington State came from behind to win 24-20 against a Huskies team that entered the game in the Top 10 with a 9-1 record. Odds makers had tabbed the Huskies as 24 1/2-point favorites, and they had a 17-7 lead at halftime. The Cougars came to life early in the third quarter when Keith Millard recovered a Paul Skansi fumble at the UW 28 and a few plays later, Casper connected with Mike Peterson on a 6-yard touchdown pass. Running backs Tim Harris and James Matthews each put up more than 100 yards, and the defense snowed UW quarterback Tim Cowan twice: once on a fumble caused by blitzing Rob Treece, and then when Mark Pleis intercepted his final pass with 56 seconds left. And even more memorably, Husky kicker Chuck Nelson missed a 33-yard attempt in the final moments of the game with the Huskies trailing 21-20, ending his NCAA record for the most consecutive field goals at 30.
1. 1997 IN SEATTLE: COUGS 41, UW 35
CHRIS JACKSON HEADS TO PAYDIRT OVER TONY PARRISH, 1997
There was just one game standing between Washington State and its first trip to Pasadena in 67 years – and the No. 11 Cougars entered Husky Stadium having not won an Apple Cup there in 12 years. The Huskies were determined to extend that streak as they took an early lead, but the Cougars answered with 17 consecutive points in the second quarter highlighted by a 57-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Leaf (pictured above) to Chris Jackson. Despite the Cougars taking a 24-7 lead after returning UW quarterback Brock Huard's interception for a touchdown, Leaf threw his own pick-six on their next possession to cut the deficit to 24-21. The scare clearly made an impression on the Cougars, who realized it was zero hour, and in the third quarter, Leaf's pass flew just over Husky cornerback Mel Miller and into the hands of Jackson, who raced down the right sideline for a 50-yard touchdown that extended their lead to 31-21. As the fourth quarter began, the Cougars were clinging to a tenuous three-point lead, but Leaf prevailed on an eight-play, 66-yard drive capped by him recovering his own fumble on third-and-1 at the UW 1 to score. Rian Lindell's field goal increased Washington State's point total to 41, thus fulfilling Jackson's earlier prediction that the Cougars would put up 40 points on the Huskies. Trailing 41-28, Washington rallied for a touchdown with just nine seconds left, but the crimson party had already started. Destination: Rose Bowl.
1972: Two teams on a roll collided in Spokane and the Cougs pulled away late to win 27-10. Stars for the Cougs that day included Ty Paine, Eric Johnson and Clyde Wareheim.
1973: The Cougs came into Husky Stadium and proceeded to put their worst beating on the Dawgs in series history. They led 42-6 at halftime and won 52-26 behind the passing of Chuck Peck, the rushing of Andrew Jones and rushing and catching of Ken Grandberry.
1983: Proving 1982 was no fluke, the Ricky Turner-led Cougars denied the Huskies a Rose Bowl berth again. The play of the day belonged to WSU punter Glenn Harper, whose TD-saving tackle of Danny Greene swung the momentum. WSU prevailed 17-6.
RYPIEN IN SEATTLE, 1985
1985: Until 2014, it was the coldest Apple Cup ever played (20 degrees at kickoff) and likely the slickest as the Husky Stadium field was a veritable sheet of ice. Mark Rypien hit Kitrick Taylor in the waning moments and the Cougs won 21-20.
1994: The Huskies scored first, driving the length of the field on the opening series against WSU's vaunted Palouse Posse defense, but that was the end of line for them. Ron Childs, Don Sasa, Chad Eaton, John Rushing and the rest shut 'em down while Albert Kennedy and Derek Sparks were among the standouts on offense. WSU won 23-6.
2002: The Cougs lost this one in triple overtime, 29-26, on the controversial backward-forward-pass call, but for unfettered thrills and chills this game was one for the ages. The Cougs came into the game ranked No. 3 in the nation and led 17-7 at halftime, but when Jason Gesser went down in the second half, the Huskies found hope. A Cougar win over UCLA week later helped salve the pain because it clinched a berth in the Rose Bowl.
2005: Trandon Harvey grabs a bubble screen from Alex Brink with 1:20 left and sprints 39 yards for the winning touchdown to give the Cougars a 26-22 victory at Husky Stadium.
2007: Alex Brink, under pressure, fires to wide open Brandon Gibson for winning, 35-yard TD pass with 31 seconds remaining. The last game of Bill Doba's career. Cougs win 42-35.
2008: One wouldn't expect to find a game nicknamed the "Crapple Cup" on a list of greats, but the 101st meeting between the teams was an unexpected thriller for the Cougars, who dug deep for a 16-13 win in double overtime. The loss doomed the Dawgs to a 0-12 season. With the clock winding down, Jared Karstetter snuck behind UW's Tripper Johnson to snag a picture-perfect pass from Kevin Lopina down to the Huskies' 18. That helped set up Nico Grasu's game-tying field goal as time expired. In the second overtime, Grasu became the hero
when he nailed a 37-yarder to give Washington State its fourth Apple Cup win in five years.
THE GLORY OF 1982: THE BIGGEST UPSET IN APPLE CUP HISTORY EARNED HEAD COACH JIM WALDEN A SHOULDER-HIGH RIDE OFF THE FIELD.