Cougars try to avoid 7th straight

It's hard to remember when the Apple Cup meant so little to so many. After talk of "the balance of power shifting from California to Washington" a couple of years ago, that talk now has about as much relevance as a "Ross Perot for President" bumper sticker.

Washington State (4-6, 2-5) at Washington (1-9, 0-7)
Saturday, November 20 - 4:00 PM (PST)
Series All-time: Washington leads, 63-27-6
Last Meeting: - Washington 27, Washington State 19


Still, WSU will be playing to end Washington's six-year streak of Apple Cup ownership.

Saturday's game will take place at Martin Stadium in Pullman and will air live on ABC-TV to a regional audience. Neither the Huskies nor the Cougars (4-5 overall, 2-5 Pac-10) can earn a bowl-game berth this season. This is the first Apple Cup since 1976 in which both teams entered the game with losing records.

Saturday's game is also the Huskies' final contest under head coach Keith Gilbertson, who will step down from his post following the season. The Huskies have won six consecutive Apple Cups, dating back to a loss in 1997, and eight of the last nine.

Washington State has been favored the last three times the teams have met, and this year will be no different. The Cougars hope to end their Apple Cup losing streak at six. Last season the 8th-ranked Cougars appeared to have the game won but Cody Pickett connected with Corey Williams for a 21-yard touchdown with 1:10 remaining to put the Dawgs ahead by one. Marquis Cooper sealed the deal by returning an interception 38 yards for a score with 14 seconds left.

The Cougars hope to keep from "Couging it" away this year. It's hard to imagine that they will, but strange things happen when these two teams hook up. Between Cougar receivers dropping footballs and the Husky offense giving them away, it promises to be an error-prone game with the team that makes the least amount of major gaffes winning the contest.

WASHINGTON STATE OFFENSE
2004 STATS:  24.7 points, 366.2 yards
             (125.5 rush, 240.7 pass)

RUSHING:     Jerome Harrison 145-750-9 TD, long 56
             Chris Bruhn 76-291-1 TD, long 65 
                          
PASSING:     Alex Brink 82-170-5 48.2%, 1065 yards,
             5 TD
            
RECEIVING:   Jason Hill 41-929-11 TD, long 76
             Michael Bumpus 31-267-1 TD, long 24
             Troy Bienemann 22-250-1 TD, long 26


With Josh Swogger out for the season, Alex Brink has taken over the controls at quarterback. He doesn't have the arm strength of Swogger but is a bit more mobile. Jason Hill is his main guy, as Hill has scored 66 points this season. Hill, a true sophomore from San Francisco, California, is the guy that the Husky secondary will need to double up on, or shade a safety to his side. He is the only Cougar receiver that has proven to be a dependable threat this year. Michael Bumpus is a true freshman and is a breakaway threat that safeties must account for on every play. Bumpus is the highest rated wide receiver the Cougars have ever signed, and is living up to all of the hype he generated at Culver City High School. He is a difference maker.

Tight End Troy Bienemann has 66 catches for his career at WSU, making him a feared weapon in the flat. If the Husky linebackers get too aggressive, expect Brink to find Bienemann in space.

When the Cougs run the ball, they like to do it behind big Calvin Armstrong, their senior road grater up front. Armstrong will play in the East-West Shrine game after completing his career against the Huskies. Armstrong and fellow behemoth senior Sam Lightbody open holes for Jerome Harrison, a junior from Kalamazoo, Michigan. At 5-9 and 192 pounds, Harrison does not go down on first contact very often. He abused UCLA for 247 rushing yards two weeks ago. Harrison assumed the starting role when Chris Bruhn went down with a knee injury in week eight and hasn't looked back.

Harrison has three games of over 100 yards rushing – Oregon (117), UCLA 9247), and ASU (118), and had a 56 yard run against the Sun Devils.

WASHINGTON STATE DEFENSE
2004 Stats: 28.2 points, 378.5 yards
                (139.7 rush, 238.8 pass)
                
TACKLES/TFL:    Will Derting 84/9.5
                Scott Davis 76/7.5
                Hamza Abdullah 66/3.5

PASSES DEF/INT: Karl Paymah 8/1
                Hamza Abdullah 8/1
                Alex Teems 7/2
                                
SACKS:          Mkristo Bruce 6.0
                Adam Braidwood 4.0
                Will Derting 3.5


Will Derting leads this group, and he does it well. Against USC, Derting flew around and made 14 tackles against the top-ranked Trojans. He has had six tackles for loss this year so far, giving him 28.5 for his career (11th in school history). Derting wraps up his third year of eligibility at WSU, where he has amassed 216 tackles, 14.5 sacks (9th in school history), three interceptions, and four forced fumbles from his middle linebacker position. Not too shabby for the former high school linebacker/safety from Okanogan, Washington. Interestingly enough, Derting participated at a summer camp at Washington and was impressive, clocking a 4.4 in the 40 yard dash, but the Cougars wrapped him up early.

A shrewd move by then coach Mike Price.

Washington State cornerback Karl Paymah will want to atone for last year's Apple Cup, as he was in the defensive backfield, agonizingly watching Cody Pickett's final pass of his career as a Husky, the 21-yard TD to Williams. Paymah is excellent in coverage and has an interception to his credit.

Up front, the Cougar stalwart has been Mkristo Bruce with his six quarterback sacks. The young Husky offensive line will need to keep a close eye on Adam Braidwood is a rangy player that will give the Husky offensive tackles fits if he gets into space. If the dawgs go with Casey Paus, who is not mobile, Braidwood is a very legitimate threat to drop him from the edge.

WASHINGTON STATE SPECIAL TEAMS
PLACEKICKING:  Loren Langley 5-11 FG (long 44), 26-28 XP
                             
PUNTING:       Kyle Basler 72-42.8
               (long 87), .17 inside the 20
               
KICK RETURNS:  Tyron Brackenridge 13-21.5 (long 38), 0 TD
               Jerome Harrison 9-17.0 (long 26), 0 TD

PUNT RETURNS:  Michael Bumpus 32-12.1 (long 76), 2 TD


Freshman Michael Bumpus is perhaps Washington State's biggest advantage on special teams over the Huskies. Bumpus is approaching WSU's record for punt return yards in a season. Already the freshman record holder 10 games into his career, he has 32 returns for 386 yards, ranking him fourth on WSU's single-season list and just 19 yards short of the record of 405 yards, shared by Shawn Tims and Sammy Moore. In addition, his two touchdown returns this year ranks him second on the single-season list and tied for second on the career list. His 76-yard return at ASU ranks as the sixth longest punt return for a TD in WSU history. Given the penchant for Husky special teams to break down during games, punter Sean Douglas might do well to just kick the ball out of bounds.

Punter Kyle Basler has been outstanding throughout his entire three-year career for the Cougars. 43 of his punts have gone for 50 or more yards, he has dropped 62 inside the opponent 20 yard line (31% of his punts land inside the 20 yard line), 31 of his punts have been downed inside the 10 yard line, and 20 were downed inside the five yard line. This guy has been a machine and will ensure that the Cougars will likely win the field position game if they can avoid turnovers.

Kicker Loren Langley has limited range and has connected on less than 50% of his field goal attempts.


KIBBLES AND BITS

The Cougars boast the second best record among Pacific-10 Conference schools over the past four years...WSU trails only USC in overall record and Pac-10 records…..Coach Bill Doba has been WSU's head coach for 23 games and has won 13 times. Inn those 23 games, his Cougar teams have held the opponents without a TD in the first half nine times. Washington could be in for a long afternoon……The Cougars like to use numerous receivers. Nine players caught passes at Oregon State, while eight caught passes against Arizona, seven had receptions against New Mexico, Idaho, USC, UCLA and ASU, while six caught passes against Colorado, Oregon and Stanford…..the last time these two schools met at Martin Stadium, it was bedlam. Down 20-10 with 4:30 to go, Washington emerged with a three-overtime, 29-26 upset win over No. 3 Washington State in one of the most memorable Apple Cups ever. Trailing by 10 points late in the fourth quarter, the UW drove 92 yards in only six plays and 1:28. Paul Arnold scored on a seven-yard pass from Cody Pickett to draw the UW to within a field goal. On the ensuing drive, Husky freshman CB Nate Robinson intercepted a pass from backup QB Matt Kegel on the second play of the Cougars' drive and John Anderson hit a 25-yard field goal with 15 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime…..Washington enters the final week of its season rated No. 1 in the Pac-10 Conference in pass defense with 180.40 yards per game allowed…..Washington's true freshmen have been called in to action a fair amount in 2004. Two true freshmen have seen action in all 10 games -- defensive end Greyson Gunheim (started five) and defensive tackle Jordan White-Frisbee (started six), while inside linebacker Dan Howell has played in nine of 10, mostly on special teams. Safety Darin Harris has played in all but one game (all on special teams). More recently, two more first-year defensive linemen were called into action as tackle Erick Lobos as seen extensive playing time in the last eight games. Defensive end Caesar Rayford was the latest youngster to see action, playing for the first time vs. Oregon State. True freshman outside linebacker Trenton Tuiasosopo played in two games earlier this season (vs. UCLA and at Notre Dame), but injured a knee and will redshirt the season.

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