SEATTLE – A blowout victory in the Apple Cup, then a berth to the Pac-12 championship less than 24 hours later?
It was probably too much to ask.
Washington State had one of its most uplifting days in recent memory Friday, clobbering archrival Washington 40-13 and planting Ol’ Crimson on the “W” at Husky Stadium.
The Cougars gathered around their televisions Saturday afternoon, crossing their fingers and hoping for another dose of magic.
Alas, the college football gods wouldn’t allow it.
To qualify for the Pac-12 title game via tiebreaker, WSU needed Oregon State to knock off Oregon in Eugene. But the Ducks built a comfortable lead early and turned back a Beavers surge in a 38-29 decision.
Still, there’s no reason for the Cougars to be downhearted.
Their 2021 season has become easily one of the sport’s best stories – this campaign could certainly make for a binge-worthy documentary series someday.
They rebounded from a poor start to the year.
Even after last month’s coaching turmoil, the Cougars picked up steam and hit full stride down the homestretch.
“There’s just a belief we have in one another – coaches and players, and everybody together,” coach Jake Dickert said after WSU’s most lopsided Apple Cup win . The Cougars removed the “interim” tag from Dickert’s title Saturday.
“I think it shows up when you play that way and have a team that’s playing its best football as the season has continued.”
Looking ahead, WSU (7-5, 6-3 Pac-12) is set to compete next month in its seventh bowl game since 2013. Bowl matchups will be revealed Dec. 5.
“This team wants to keep playing together, and that’s a special thing,” Dickert said. “It’s a special group and they understand the moment of what they’re doing.”
In the meantime, the Cougars will relish their rout of an overmatched UW team, which couldn’t get much of anything going on offense with freshman quarterback Sam Huard tossing four picks in his first start.
The Huskies’ touted defense allowed more points Friday than it had in any game since the 2014 season.