If everything keeps going the way it is, this year’s Apple Cup contest between Washington and Washington State might end up being one of the worst matchups in the history of major conference football, with both teams facing the very real possibility of being winless against FBS opponents on game day.
The Huskies are one of only two FBS teams without a win (the other is North Texas), and are now facing several more weeks without QB Jake Locker, who was the only player keeping them in any game. Meanwhile, WSU has been outscored 157-20 in three Pac-1o games. Their only win was a 48-9 victory over FCS program Portland State, but even that game wasn’t without it’s downside, with the team’s top two quarterbacks going down with season-ending neck and back injuries.
Throw in the fact that the Seahawks are suddenly horrible and the Sonics are wearing blue uniforms that say “Oklahoma City” on the front, and you have a great year to be a sports fan in Washington.
While Ty Willingham has been hammered for lazy recruiting during his Notre Dame tenure, he actually has landed fairly decent classes over the last two seasons (15th in 2008 and 29th in 2007 according to SCOUT.COM). The unfortunate part is that he’s had to play most of them right away as he has only 26 upperclassmen on his roster. Part of that is predecessor Keith Gilbertson’s fault, says the SEATTLE TIMES’ Bob Condotta. But Condotta indicts Willingham for not getting enough good talent in the program early in his tenure, and relying too much on JC transfers who mostly didn’t pan out:
While some give Willingham a pass for that (2005) class due to his late arrival, others point out that he waited a while to fill out his staff, which didn’t help.
“It was just not a good effort in 2005, and he can be blamed for not realizing that he needed to put his staff together earlier to help in that regard,” said Allen Wallace, the national recruiting editor of Scout.com.
And any responsibility for a 2006 class that also doesn’t appear to be passing muster is all Willingham’s.
Things are even uglier at Wazzu, where the Cougs are traveling to Corvallis this weekend as 30-point underdogs to 2-3 Oregon State. They’ve scored only two touchdowns in three conference games, one of which came when they were already trailing by 56 points to Oregon.
And the news has gotten worse, as it appears that the Cougars might be without their top two running backs for tomorrow’s game, according to the SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER. Keep in mind that this team was picked to finish last in the conference, before losing its top two quarterbacks and running backs.
P-I columnist Jim Moore groans that first-year coach Paul Wulff is already conceding that defeat is pretty much imminent every time out:
I also don’t want to hear Wulff saying, as he did after the Oregon game, that “the score is not our issue right now — we can’t look at that…”
And twice I’ve heard him say: “We’ve got to coach the players we’ve got.” Translated: Man, these kids aren’t very good, and we’re stuck with them.
In this same column, Moore gets confirmation from an odds-maker in Las Vegas that the winless and hapless Huskies would be a clear favorite on the road if the teams met today:
Who’s worse? Without question, it’s Washington State. Stoneback said the Huskies would be a seven-point favorite in the Apple Cup if the game were played in Pullman today.
“That’s because the Cougars are so bad,” said Stoneback, who grew up in Burien and graduated from Highline High in 1981. “They have no quarterback, really. They’re basically a go-against team right now. The public likes to bet against them.”
Mark your calendars, folks. November 22nd is the day college football is set back 70 years.