The Battle to the Bottom

With Washington's loss to UCLA and the Cougars suffering their third shut out of the season to ASU, the number-one and two worst teams in America will square off Saturday afternoon in Pullman for the state championship of college football. On the line will be the title of "Worst Team in College Football". Lose the game and you've rightly earned the distinction of being the bottom of the bottom.

Both teams limp in with multiple injury losses and the most significant ones at the most important position - quarterback. Losing Jake Locker did to Washington what losing Isaiah Stanback did a couple of years ago. They went on a losing streak and couldn't stop it. The major difference is the Huskies had won four games with Stanback and none with Jake.

WSU may be playing a freshman quarterback in JT Levenseller, who was raised to hate Huskies by his father - Cougars' assistant coach Mike - and fully realizes the importance of this game. If he starts instead of Kevin Lopina, the Huskies' Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell will probably dial up the pressure packages and go after the youngster. I would.

The Huskies' back-up QB, Ronnie Fouch, has struggled replacing Jake. There's no question about that. He was bad against ASU and even worse against UCLA. He has to know his level of play is hurting his team, so I would assume he will have a much better game against WSU.

One way to do that would be to reduce his package and let him run more and pass less. He showed a couple of flashes of running the football against UCLA and that will probably be his key to leading his team to victory in Pullman.

Protecting Fouch from injury by not running him should be thrown out at this point, and if the UCLA game is any indication - it has. To heck with it! Call some QB draws and have him bootleg run and scramble to get first downs to keep the chains moving.

This should be a low scoring game anyway, so play it to close to vest and run the football. Line up in the I-formation and run ISO draw, power, and zone cut and pound the Cougars with a running attack that adds the quarterback to the mix.

By doing that, it will take the pressure off of Fouch and put it on Brandon Johnson. Let the sophomore carry the football 25-30 times. Johnson has proven the past two weeks that he is a tough runner while Fouch has been proving he is a poor thrower when things break down. KISS it and see what happens. (Keep It Simple, Stupid)

Have Fouch use tight end Kavario Middleton more. Give him a couple of screens and have him throw just enough for first downs and stop throwing two-yard routes when you need 12. Fouch should not have to win the game. Just don't let him lose it.

Washington can win this game if they can get any offense at all. 300 yards, with most of that coming from the ground, could win the game. Heck, 250 yards might even do it.

The Huskies need one score from the kicking game or the defense (like a pick to the house), and two other turnovers inside the Cougars' territory. They need three or four sacks, with Daniel Te'o-Nesheim getting a hat-trick.

It's real simple: Go into Pullman, cut down the domino board and play smash-mouth on both sides of the ball and win the kicking game. UW needs to play field position football and get an early lead, then gradually wear them down.

The way these two offenses have been playing (UW and WSU are 117th and 118th nationally (out of 119 D1 teams) in total offense, respectively), this game will probably be won by the kickers.

Wouldn't that be sweet to see Ryan Perkins win this game after all that he has been through?

The biggest fear I have is the difference in the emotional level of these two teams. I promise you the Cougars will be sky-high and will play tough from the start. This is their biggest game of the year, yet the Huskies under Tyrone Willingham treat all opponents the same emotionally.

If Washington comes out flat, or gets down following some adversity, they could be in for world of trouble in the Palouse. Having not won a game the whole year they really don't know what it takes, and besides I think the Cougars have shown some obvious improvement over the course of the season - whereas I think the Huskies have gotten progressively worse, particularly after the firing of Coach Willingham.

After watching every Husky game in person and most later on video, and also now having seen five or six of the Cougars'games, I honestly think Washington has better players. If Washington gets a solid game out of Fouch they should win this game. But when you enter the Apple Cup without any wins at all, it sort of distorts the picture.

To think that as little as six or seven years ago these two teams were at the top of the Pac-10 Conference standings. To see them enter this game at 1-20 collectively is surreal. Are you kidding me? What happened to these two programs?

Coaching turnover is probably the answer, with the Huskies soon to have their fourth different leader while the Cougars are already on their third.

Neither team has had any kind of offensive firepower for most of its games, and both of the defenses are amongst the worst in the conference, if not the nation (UW and WSU are nationally 110th and 112th in total defense, respectively).

The Cougars are last in total offense and the Huskies are last in total defense. WSU had already set a conference record for points surrendered in a single season with three games to play so their defense is even worse. Wow!

Washington has lost 12 games in a row since last year as the continue to add to a school record for futility. The two teams have each scored 139 points on the season (UW in 10 games, WSU in 11), and their statistics would indicate that this game is a toss-up. Who would have thunk it? Both are so bad, who knows what's going to happen!

They are ninth and tenth in league team statistics in scoring offense, scoring defense, total offense, total defense, rushing offense, pass efficiency, defensive pass efficiency, punt return average, field goals, PAT kicking, sacks by, turnover margin, and red-zone offense. Crazy! These teams are just plain bad. It just gets down to who is the best of the worst on Saturday.

I don't think either of these teams are capable of scoring big and that is why I anticipate a tighter, lower-scoring contest.

Washington's defense has made some obvious strides over the past two weeks, and stopping the run and attacking the quarterback would seem to be their most important objectives. Winning the turnover battle and kicking game will win this game. Who needs an offense?

I think Washington should win, and will win this game. If they do, they will eliminate themselves from being the 'Worst of the Worst', not to mention having a defeated season. It's about time for these kids to get a win a game and the Apple Cup is the perfect time to do so. Of course, the Cougars are thinking the exact same thing and that is why in spite of their lowly standings this could be an Apple Cup for the ages. Who would have thought that both teams have become so horrible that it has actually turned this Awful Cup into a pretty intriguing matchup!

May the worst team lose. Top Stories