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THUD: WSU steps backward in Apple Cup

PULLMAN - With everything on the line, a Pac-12 North title, a Pac-12 championship, the Cougs went all in. Then when the chips were down and the call was made, WSU folded its hand.

What was hyped as potentially a legendary game, the 2016 Apple Cup was a one-sided affair.

WSU has no excuse this time around. They had a healthy Luke Falk (who watched the 2015 Apple Cup from the sidelines last season) along with the return of three key Cougar defenders who were missing from the Colorado game. Well, turned out it didn’t make much of a difference. In fact, the only difference on the scoreboard between last year and this year was an insignificant seven more points on WSU's side of the scoreboard.

The Huskies made it look easy. They came into Cougar territory and rolled over WSU from the start.

From my chair, it looked as if the Cougs played like they thought they had already arrived, that their season was over and their work was done. What they failed to realize was that everything they had worked for up until this point meant nothing if they couldn’t finish the job. 

For WSU, the last two regular season games were huge. Two games that could decide it all. Two games that would define the season and eventually help shape this program's future.

Two straight losses later and the Cougs are back to being an average team, I would argue.

For a team that many pictured to be among the elite, WSU proved that they still have mountains yet to climb if they want to be in that conversation.

They had a good ride while beating up on the bottom half of the Pac-12. But when push came to shove, they were lesser competition when facing the conference's best in Colorado and UW. One was a relatively close loss, one was a blowout loss. But both count the same at the end of the day: simply a loss.

The Cougs were right there headed into the Apple Cup, though. All the Cougs needed to do was find a way to win. They didn’t just come up short, they got pushed around and embarrassed on their own turf in the biggest Apple Cup game for both teams in over 30 years. (The 1997 Apple Cup was the biggest ever for the Cougs. But the 1981 Apple Cup was the last time a title was on the line for both schools).

Disappointing? Very. Embarrassing? Completely.

All that said, there is still a bowl in Wazzu's future. If it can pull itself back together and gain some confidence, it can still end the 2016-17 campaign on a high note. 

That has to be the focus now.

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