On the line THIS week for Washington is an attempt at a sixth-straight Apple Cup, and another shot at protecting a 27-year non-losing season streak that the school and its fans cherish. Not to mention, a second consecutive season sweep of the Northwest schools. For a team that has shown enough faces to make Legion jealous, the result will probably be fitting - no matter which way it ends up.

#8 Washington State (6-1, 9-2) at Washington (3-4, 5-6)
Saturday, November 22 -- 3:36 PM (PST) FOX SPORTS NET
Husky Stadium - Seattle, WA
Last Meeting: November 23, 2002 - Washington 29, Washington State 26 (3 OT)
Series All-Time: Washington leads, 62-27-6
Line: (No Line offered as of press time)

Keith Gilbertson
Husky head coach Keith Gilbertson is implicated in a potential ethics question regarding his family's chartered flight to Columbus, Ohio.

As ex-captain of the mutinied ship, Rick Neuheisel was given a single bullet to castoff with, as is customary in Pirate lore. And danged if it wasn't a 40-megaton howitzer - which he set off on Tuesday.

And there's another "game" this week - at least it says so on the schedule. Against a Washington State Cougar team that is ranked 8th in the nation, that would likely be a two-touchdown favorite at Husky Stadium for the first time since leather helmets were outlawed, and is looking hard for a spot in the BCS party.

Against a Cougar team that is 29-7 over its' last 36 games, and has lost to their most bitter rival five straight times - and still feels the sinews of last year's stunning three-overtime loss at Martin Stadium.

Against a Cougar team that knows full well - and revels in - the depths of the Huskies' misery, and would love nothing more than to turn the final screw on Washington's 2003 cremation urn.

"Man, we're going to want this game," says WSU senior quarterback Matt Kegel. "We started playing this game four or five years ago, and now it's time to finish it."


But "play the game" they will - in front of a national audience, no less - and nobody has a clue which face Washington will choose to wear when they kick off at 3:35 or so on Saturday. Before, many were claiming that the Huskies had a Jekyll-and-Hyde personality. But that clearly wasn't the case last week in Berkeley, where Washington were simply abominable - as in Dr. Phibes.

Eerily, instead of the usual rivalry banter, it was almost as if the Apple Cup was an asterisk during Monday's presser at the Don James center, with most of the talk focused squarely on the effort of the Huskies' last eight quarters. In fact, even the Cougar side is laying lower than usual these days - "We've over-hyped the game so much in the past," senior co-captain Erik Coleman told the Spokane Sportsman-Review. "Instead, we need to go out there with the same attitude we've taken every week this year".

And Kegel chimed in with, "We can't go out there thinking if we lose this game, it's the end of the world.

"It's (the media's) job to blow this game out of proportion. It's our job to just go out there and play a football game."

Pretty fiery stuff for such a heated rivalry.

And back in Seattle, the gathering's questions were kept - perhaps rightly so - on the Tucson and Berkeley debacles. And embattled Husky coach Keith Gilbertson was again on the firing line.

"I can't specifically put my finger on it," Gilbertson said about the egg his team laid in Berkeley. "For us to have that kind of a game Saturday, I'm really at a loss, with a lot on the line and a lot to play for." "Our self-esteem is lower than it has been in a long time."

TEAM STATS:  31.5 points, 396.1 yards (108.3 rush, 287.8 pass)

RUSHING:     Jonathan Smith 183-723-9 TD (4.0), long 49  
             Jermaine Green 82-285-4 TD (3.5), long 26

PASSING:     Matt Kegel 194-350-11 (.554), 2694 yards, 18 TD
             Josh Swogger 31-58-2 (.534), 441 yards, 1 TD 

RECEIVING:   Devard Darling 43-764-6 TD (17.8), long 84  
             Scott Lunde 36-538-3 TD (14.9), long 77
             Jonathan Smith 27-295-1 TD (10.9), long 47

Three-and-four receiver sets with a single back are the norm for coordinator Mike Levenseller's offense. And though the normal "Cougar numbers" aren't quite there, they've been able to put up enough to support a swaggering defense.

QB Matt Kegel
Matt Kegel has been able to answer the bell for every game, but he's still on the mend from a shoulder injury suffered against UCLA, so redshirt-freshman Josh Swogger has finished both of the past two games, both emphatic Cougar victories. Kegel has five 300-yard efforts this season, plus a 291-yard performance against USC, but has only thrown 16 passes in the last two weeks (completing eight). Surely the senior - who does have a propensity for fumbling - will be looking to atone for last year's nightmare in the Palouse, but if he's unable to unleash then Swogger - who threw for 207 yards in relief against ASU - will be ready to go.

The Cougars have six players with 20 or more receptions, and have twin speed threats on the outside. Sophomore Devard Darling had his best game of the season against Arizona State, catching five balls for 108 yards and a score. He has a TD catch in five of the last six games he's played. Sammy Moore has only 20 catches, but averages 22.4 yards per snare. He caught two scoring aerials from Kegel at Notre Dame, and hauled in a 74-yarder at Colorado. Slot back Scott Lunde has developed into a top possession receiver. His one reception against the Buffs went for a 77-yard score, and he's had 26 catches in his last four games. Tight end Troy Bienemann has chipped in 25 grabs.

The senior tandem of Jonathan Smith and Jermaine Green have combined for 1,008 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns from the Cougars' single-back look, while junior Chris Bruhn has chipped in 283 yards. Smith enjoyed his finest hour against UCLA, toting it 36 times for 130 yards and three touchdowns. Both Smith and Green ran in scores against the Sun Devils, while Bruhn enjoyed a 119-yard day against Idaho. Smith is also a receiving threat with 27 receptions on the year.

The offensive line is the only area that's seen any revolving-door activity, with nine different players seeing starts - though that door does have 123 career starts between them. They are strongest on the left side with 325-pound senior Josh Parrish at guard and Centralia's Calvin Armstrong at tackle. Senior Mike Shelford makes the interior calls at center. Senior Billy Knotts has had an injury-plagued season, so Nick Mihlhauser should make his eighth start at guard. Junior Sam Lightbody missed the OSU game but has started the other ten at tackle.

TEAM STATS:    19.1 points, 323.0 yards (88.4 rush, 234.6 pass)

TACKLES/TFL:   Erik Coleman 76/1
               Don Jackson 76/7
               Will Derting 73/11

SACKS:         D.D. Acholunu 10.5
               Will Derting 6.5 
               Jeremey Williams 4.0

PASS DEF/INT:  Jason David 19/6
               Erik Coleman 10/6
               Virgil Williams 9/4

With eight senior starters, there isn't a more experienced defense in the PAC-10. And they've put up the numbers - 39 sacks, 77 tackles-for-loss, 22 interceptions (second-best in the nation), and a plus-nine turnover margin. "Damage Inc." has more than held up its end in propelling Coach Bill Doba to a 9-2 "rookie season" - it's still Doba's defense, though current defensive coordinator Robb Akey now runs it.

FS Erik Coleman
Washington may have faced stronger lines this year, but none will be as quick to the ball as the WSU front. Senior speed rusher D.D. Acholonu leads the sack attack with 10.5 from off the edge, including a three-sack game versus Oregon State. One-third of Acholonu's tackles have gone for a loss, and he's also forced four fumbles. Isaac Brown is no slouch from the other end, having a sack in each of his past two games. Senior defensive tackle Jeremey Williams has nine TFL on the season, and Tai Tupai provides a stout run-stop presence in the interior.

Sophomore linebacker Will Derting also had a three-sack game against the Beavers, plus he bagged three more at Notre Dame. The potential all-American's 73 tackles are second on the front seven, behind senior 'backer Don Jackson, who has 76. Jackson and Derting have combined for eighteen tackles-for-loss. The Cougars lost junior Al Genatone to an ankle injury last month, his spot being taken by junior Pat Bennett from Forks. Genatone could be back this week, at least on a part-time basis.

Senior free safety Erik Coleman was the national defensive Player-of-the-Week for his 10-tackle, two-interception, two-forced fumble game against UCLA. Along with Jackson, Coleman leads the team with 76 stops. His six interceptions are tied with senior corner Jason David, who leads the PAC-10 in passes defended with 19. David has 16 career thefts for the Cougars, and has returned two of them for scores this year. Strong safety Virgil Williams has also chipped in four picks and a pair of sacks. Add in junior corner Karl Paymah, and Washington State has started the same defensive backfield the entire season.

KICKING:      Drew Dunning 23-26 FG (long 49), 32-35 XP

PUNTING:      Kyle Basler 66-43.6 (long 65),
              blocked, .364 inside-the-20

KICK RETURNS: Sammy Moore 24-25.0 (long 97), 1 TD 
              Jonathan Smith 6-17.0 (long 38), 0 TD

PUNT RETURNS: Sammy Moore 36-8.8 (long 64), 0 TD

PR/KOR Sammy Moore
The special teams units are another strong suit for Washington State - maybe the best in the conference. Sammy Moore is a threat at both return disciplines - he has returned a kickoff 97 yards at Colorado and a punt 64 yards against Stanford. Place-kicker Drew Dunning is the NCAA's fourth-ranked kicker with an 87.5-percent field-goal success rate on 2.09 field goals per game, and leads the PAC-10 in scoring. Sophomore punter Kyle Basler is a Ray Guy national semi-finalist nominee, averaging 43.6 yards per boot and putting a stellar 36-percent of them inside the opposing 20.

The Cougars have blocked an eye-popping seven kicks - five of them placement - and have tasted three boots coming back at them.
How do we match-up against theWSU Cougars?
CategoryWSU CougarsUW HuskiesNational LeaderPac-10 Leader
Pass Eff.

Though right now it looks like it might never stop raining, the forecast is calling for clear skies and cool temps on Saturday ... Nineteen seniors will make the journey through the Husky Gauntlet. Considering the turns taken in a season gone bad, it figures to be a bittersweet trip for several. Washington State has 24 lining up for their final Apple Cup ... Drew Dunning is seven points shy of Jason Hanson's all-time WSU record for career scoring ... As is the norm, when you're going good you've also got some stability behind it. Seventeen of Washington State's 22 front-liners have started at least 10 of the Cougars' 11 games. Conversely, the Huskies' have had but ten starters availed in the same manner ... Sadly, they will only be numbers. But when all is said-and-done on Saturday, Cody Pickett will end up Washington's all-time passing leader - by over 4,500 yards. He's also thrown for 739 yards in the past two Apple Cups ... The Cougars have been ranked in 38 of the past 40 ESPN/USAToday polls, while Washington - hasn't ... Washington's 264-straight games of not being shut out is the nation's third-longest such streak. WSU's streak is at 225 games, putting them fifth on that same list ... Washington State has won 10 of its' past 12 PAC-10 road games ... The Cougars were able to muster a field goal in the third quarter against Arizona State last week. Hence, it became their 26th-straight victory when scoring in that magical frame. And Washington State has scored in eight of their last nine quarters ... So Maurice Clarett is failing a P.E. class at Ohio State. How fitting ... Is Lou Holtz really 0-9 over the last two years in games that would make his South Carolina Gamecocks bowl-eligible? ... Top Stories