Sports

Apple Cup ‘08: The battle for the gridiron basement

In case anybody cares, the Apple Cup is today.

I, for one, do. And my reasons are pretty selfish, I guess.

It gives me a chance to get together with my buddies and eat too much, drink too much and make fun of everything associated with the University of Washington and Washington State’s football teams. I have no association with either university, having attended Gonzaga. I have free reign to denigrate both teams with extreme vigilance, which I will do this year without any remorse.

Instead of rooting for either the Huskies or Cougars, I will cheer fervently for one of my buddies to have one-too-many adult beverages and then fall down the stairs. Because there’s nothing funnier than ridiculing somebody for doing something stupid, is there?

You’ve all heard the nicknames for the 2008 Washington-Washington State game — the Crapple Cup, the Rotten Apple Cup or the Worms-Tunneling-Through-A-Rotten Apple Cup, to name a few.

Any way you look at it, the 2008 Apple Cup might be the worst end-of-year rivalry game in the history of college football.

Sorry, Cougar and Husky fans, but I have to tell it like it is.

This season’s game, which for some reason is being nationally-televised on Fox Sports Net, will be played with a dubious title on the line. Obviously, there isn’t a Rose Bowl bid being handed out, let alone a trip to the Poulan WeedEater Independence Bowl.

What’s on the line when the Huskies and Cougars line up today at noon inside Martin Stadium in Pullman is simple — the loser will officially be recognized as the worst team in Division I college football.

There’s no way to even argue that.

Washington is the only team in the nation without a victory this season and the Cougars’ lone win came against Division II Portland State.

And that’s what makes this game interesting. The ineptness of both teams makes the Apple Cup can’t-miss TV. If both teams were 3-7, what would be the point of watching? Answer: No reason at all.

But with both teams being so bad this year, there are plenty of reasons to tune in. The 2008 Apple Cup appeals to everything that is right, or wrong, with America.

Who doesn’t slow down to look at a car accident? Who doesn’t pause on a Jerry Springer episode while channel surfing, hoping to get a glimpse of some kind of fight between family members? Who doesn’t enjoy it when an over-exposed celebrity trips over her own feet on “Dancing with the Stars?”

I know I do, and I’m assuming everybody else does, as well. That’s exactly what the 2008 Apple Cup is going to be — a train wreck that no sports fan can take their eyes off.

Of the 120 Division I football teams, Washington ranks 118th in total offense, 118th in scoring offense, 111th in total defense and 117th in scoring defense. Washington State ranks 119th in total offense, 119th in scoring offense, 113th in total defense and 119th in scoring defense. Washington is 117th in turnover margin and Washington State is last.

The two teams are so bad that an 0-10 Husky squad is actually a 7 1/2-point favorite to beat Washington State in Pullman at Martin Stadium.

That is an amazing fact, considering Washington hasn’t been favored in any of its 10 games this season and features an already-fired coach in Tyrone Willingham.

Although it doesn’t seem possible, things are even worse at Washington State. The Cougars’ defense has allowed more than 50 points six times this year and is allowing opponents to rush for close to 300 yards a game. Washington State has forced only 11 turnovers on the season, while committing 35 of their own.

The Cougars have allowed a Pac-10 record 533 points this season.

Offensively, the Cougars have just six touchdown passes and has lost every Pac-10 game by at least 25 points. That includes three shutouts and two more games where the Cougars’ only score was a field goal.

But you can toss out all those stats this week because it’s the Apple Cup. Also, NCAA rules say a football game can’t end in a tie.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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