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First look: Washington (16) at Washington State (7)

November 20, 2018

What is it? With the Pac-12 North on the line, No. 16 Washington (8-3, 6-2) travels across the Evergreen State to take on No. 7 Washington State (10-1, 7-1) in the 111th Apple Cup.

Where is it? Martin Stadium in Pullman.

When is it? Kickoff is 5:30 p.m. Friday.

Where can I watch it? The game will be televised on FOX.

Who is favored? Washington State opened as a three-point favorite.

How did they fare last week? Washington cruised past an Oregon State team coached by former offensive coordinator, Jonathan Smith, winning 42-23 in Seattle. Washington State led Arizona by 41 points at halftime and routed the Wildcats 69-28.

Why Washington will win: The UW offense hit rock bottom three games ago in a 12-10 loss to Cal, when longtime starting quarterback Jake Browning was benched for the first time in his career. But that’s as bad as it got for Browning and the Huskies, who followed with 27 points against Stanford and put up 42 points last weekend against Oregon State. UW’s offense – and its defense for that matter – has dealt with scattered injuries throughout the season, but this is as healthy as the Huskies have been. All-conference left tackle Trey Adams made his season debut against OSU, tight end Hunter Bryant has made a full recovery from what could’ve been a season-ending knee surgery and running back Myles Gaskin has had two 100-yard efforts since missing consecutive games with a shoulder injury. And with defensive back Jordan Miller, linebacker DJ Beavers and defensive lineman Shane Bowman back in the fold, UW’s defense should have sufficient depth in this Apple Cup.

Why WSU will win: Gardner Minshew is having the best statistical year by a quarterback in Washington State history and could break Jared Goff’s single-season Pac-12 passing mark with 390 yards against Washington. But Minshew probably doesn’t need to be that good to give the Cougars a chance. WSU quarterbacks have thrown seven touchdowns and 12 interceptions in the last five Apple Cups and they’ve been sacked 19 times. Given the volume of passes he’s thrown this year, Minshew’s been excellent when it’s come to avoiding interceptions and evading sacks. He’s averaging just one interception every 82 pass attempts and he’s been sacked just eight times in 11 games. In four of those games, Minshew wasn’t sacked once.

What happened last time? The Huskies dominated the Cougars 41-14 on a chilly, wet Saturday night in Seattle and shielded their cross-state rivals from a Pac-12 North title for the second straight season. WSU faced a steep uphill battle at halftime, already trailing 24-0, and matters were made worse when All-American defensive tackle Hercules Mata’afa was ejected for targeting in the third quarter. It wouldn’t have made much of a difference at that point. The Huskies took a 34-0 lead on Gaskin’s 26-yard scoring run and the Cougars didn’t get on the board until the fourth quarter, when Jamal Morrow capped a 15-play drive with a 2-yard rushing touchdown. On a disastrous day for WSU’s offense, quarterback Luke Falk was intercepted three times and sacked five more times. Meanwhile, UW’s ground game thrived. Gaskin scored four touchdowns on the ground and rushed for 192 yards while Salvon Ahmed added 82 more.

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