Cougars best moments…
In recent years, Washington State Cougars football has had some very forgettable seasons but there are many memories in recent decades that are absolutely unforgettable and will forever last in Cougar lore.
My top five moments:
5) November 24, 2007 – Brink burns Huskies in Montlake
This game was special for multiple reasons. It was the 100th Apple Cup and it marked Alex Brink’s last game in his legendary Cougar career.
In a record breaking performance, Brink threw for an Apple Cup record 399 yards and threw for five touchdowns.
The Huskies had a 35-28 lead with just over seven minutes to play until Brink connected with Brandon Gibson for a 40-yard touchdown to tie the game.
Jake Locker did his best to lead the Huskies to victory but senior Corey Williams fumbled a first-down catch to give the Cougars the ball deep in their own territory.
The 100th Apple Cup and Alex Brink's last game for WSU
On the final drive, Brink was phenomenal going 4-4 on the drive for 79 yards. No pass was more important than a 35-yard touchdown strike to Gibson to give the Cougars the lead for good, 42-35.
Brink ended his Washington State legacy by throwing the game-winning touchdown pass on his final collegiate attempt and extending his own record of Apple Cup wins to three.
4) November 22, 2008 – Cougars help ensure Huskies’ winless season
When the Huskies and Cougars met in the 101st edition of the Apple Cup it was the first time in Pac-10 history that two teams with 10 losses had ever faced off. But, the “Apple Suck,” as many pundits called it, ended in one of the most stunning conclusions in the rivalry’s history.
The Huskies came into the contest as favorites despite going winless in their first ten games. Going into halftime the Cougars trailed 10-0 due to the same inconsistencies that plagued them throughout their miserable one-win campaign. But, a Logwone Mitz 57 yard TD scamper late in the third quarter gave the Cougars life, cutting the Husky lead to 10-7.
In a last gasp effort, the Cougars received the ball on their own 10-yard line with less than one-minute remaining. Then something remarkable happened. After a couple third down conversions, Cougar quarterback Kevin Lopina – who looked terrible all day – connected with wide receiver Jared Karstetter for 48 yards down to the Washington 18 with 24 seconds remaining.
Another Karstetter 7-yard catch failed to get out of bounds and it looked like the game would be over until Lopina spiked the ball with just two seconds remaining. Then, Washington State kicker Nico Grasu connected on a 28-yard FG to force overtime as time expired.
Washington kicker Ryan Perkins and Grasu exchanged FGs in the first overtime to knot the score at 13-13. In the second overtime, Perkins would miss a 38-yard FG, which gave the Cougars a chance to win it.
And, in an otherwise forgettable season, that is exactly what they did. Grasu nailed a 37-yard kick to give the Cougars a 16-13 win in double-overtime and help ensure the Huskies remained winless.
3) December 31, 2003 – Holiday Bowl victory over the Longhorns
Big plays and stifling defense highlighted the 2003 Holiday Bowl. #15 Washington State was the heavy underdog to the #5 Texas Longhorns led by Vince Young, Cedric Benson, and Roy Williams.
The big names on the Longhorn sideline didn’t phase a hungry Cougar defense as they racked up nine sacks and forced three turnovers in the contest.
Bill Doba had big plays and a stifling defense in the 2003 Holiday Bowl.
Texas led 10-7 at halftime but a Will Derting sack ended Young’s night after just two quarters.
Bill Doba fired up the troops at half and the Cougars came out to score three touchdowns in the third quarter to take a commanding 26-10 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
In true Longhorn fashion, Texas battled back but exotic blitz’s and a relentless pass rush was too much for the number five team in the country.
The Cougars secured their third consecutive 10-win season in the 28-20 victory.
2) November 21, 1992 – “The Catch” and the Snow Bowl
If there was one memory that sticks in the head of every Cougar fan – and Husky fan, at that – it’s the Drew Bledsoe to Phillip Bobo touchdown pass in the back the a snowy Martin Stadium endzone.
On national television, the defending champion #5 Washington Huskies trumped into a winter wonderland to face Bledsoe and the Cougars.
Washington State had not won an Apple Cup since 1988, which was also played in the snow, and Bledsoe wasn’t phased by mother nature’s frigid elements. The future number one overall pick in the ensuing NFL draft was countered by Husky quarterback Mark Brunell.
Trailing 7-6 at halftime, the Cougars marched out of the tunnel to score four consecutive touchdowns but the first touchdown pass will forever remain as arguably the greatest play in Cougar lore. The 44-yard touchdown pass – dubbed “Bledsoe to Bobo” – started the scoring onslaught and it was smooth sailing skiing from there on out.
The Cougars won the game 42-23 and marked their first win over a top-10 opponent since 1988.
1) November 22, 1997 – Leaf leads Cougars to the Rose Bowl
There was just one game between Washington State and their first trip to Pasadena in 67 years.
One of the most important Apple Cups in the history of the rivalry.
The team in there way: the Washington Huskies. In arguably one of the most important Apple Cups in the history of the rivalry, the #11 Cougars faced preseason Pac-10 favorite Huskies for a chance to play in the Grand Daddy of them all.
In a wild game of back and forth scoring, the Huskies struck first. On the games first drive the Huskies took a 7-0 lead. But, the Cougars would answer with 17 consecutive points in the 2nd quarter to take a 17-7 lead highlighted by a 57-yard touchdown from Leaf to Chris Jackson.
Husky quarterback Brock Huard then threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown to give the Cougars a commanding 24-7 lead and the smell of roses began emanating into Husky stadium.
The Huskies battled back to cut the lead to 24-14 and on the ensuing possession, Leaf would throw an interception that was taken back for a touchdown that cut the lead to 24-21.
Leaf responded with the leadership he had showed all year and connected with wide receiver Chris Jackson – part of the Fab Five – for a 50-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 31-21 with just over three minutes to play in the third quarter.
The Huskies rallied for a touchdown just before the end of the quarter and heading into the fourth the Cougars held a nerve-wrecking 31-28 lead.
In a defensively dominated fourth quarter the Cougars would score a touchdown on a Leaf fumble recovery in the end zone and a Rian Lindell field goal giving the Cougars a lead they would not relinquish. Trailing 41-28, the Huskies rallied for a touchdown with just nine seconds remaining but the party was already on.
The Cougars reached the Rose Bowl and pandemonium ensued – it was a feeling absent of any description.
We were finally heading to Pasadena.
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© Britton Ransford for North West Sports Beat, 2012. |
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