The Huskies and the Cougars have been playing each other for more than a century
will be representing the Pac-12 North in the conference championship game. If the Cougars win, they still have a chance to make the College Football Playoff.
The two Evergreen State schools first met in 1900 and have played some thrilling games in their 110 previous meetings. Even though Washington holds a commanding 72-32-6 lead in the series, there have been plenty of matchups that not only enthralled their respective fan bases, but the rest of the country too. Here are the five best.
5. Washington State 21, Washington 20
Nov. 23, 1985 – Seattle
Both teams were tied 14-14 in the fourth quarter, but Washington State quarterback Mark Rypien completed a 15-yard strike to Kitrick Taylor to take a 21-14 lead with 11:19 left in the game. However, the Huskies responded with a 50-yard touchdown pass from Chris Chandler to Lonzell Hill with less than three minutes to go. On the two-point try, Chandler tried to connect with Hill again, but the attempt failed. For the Cougars, the win was a bright spot to what had been a disappointing season.
4. Washington 29, Washington State 26 (3OT)
Nov. 23, 2002 – Pullman, Wash.
The third-ranked Cougars led 20-10 with 4:41 to go in the game, but had just lost starting quarterback Jason Gesser to a leg injury. Washington then scored to narrow the lead to 20-17. On the next series, Washington State backup quarterback Matt Kegel threw an interception that set up the tying field goal. In overtime, Huskies kicker John Anderson nailed three field goals and put Washington up 29-26 in the third overtime. On the first play of Wazzu’s final possession, Kegel threw a pass to his left, but UW lineman Kai Ellis batted the ball to the ground and fell on it. After a minute of review, the officials determined that it was a backward pass and that Ellis recovered a fumble. The game was over and the Huskies left Pullman with an epic upset.
3. Washington 8, WSU 7
Nov. 19, 1960 – Spokane, Wash.
The 8-1 Huskies were three-touchdown favorites, but were held scoreless for the first three quarters. The Cougars went ahead 7-0 with a three-yard touchdown pass from Mel Melin to end Hugh Campbell. Washington’s Charlie Mitchell returned the ensuing kickoff 35 yards to the Washington State 48-yard line and the Huskies put together a 14-play, 52-yard drive that was punctuated with a one-yard sneak by backup quarterback Kermit Jorgensen for the touchdown. Starting quarterback Bob Hivner then came back in and hit Don McKeta in the end zone for the two-point conversion. That narrow win sent Washington to the Rose Bowl where the Huskies beat national champion Minnesota (remember this is still the era when the national champs were named before the bowl games.). Note: Even though Washington State is located in Pullman, the Cougars hosted their Apple Cup games in Spokane from 1950-80.
2. Washington 31, Washington State 24 (OT)
Nov. 23, 1996 – Pullman, Wash.
The Huskies led 24-0 midway through the third quarter thanks to three touchdowns by running back Corey Dillon and the game appeared to be all but over. The Cougars responded with a field goal in the third quarter and then staged a furious fourth quarter comeback. Quarterback Ryan Leaf ran for a score and threw for another touchdown. Wazzu running back Michael Black tied the game at 24-24 with a 10-yard touchdown run with 1:18 left. Washington drove down the field and lined up for the game-winning field goal with eight seconds left, but the kick was blocked. In overtime, quarterback Brock Huard hit Jerome Pathon in the end zone to put the Huskies up 31-24. On Washington State’s possession, Leaf threw a pass to Chad Carpenter, but it was caught out of bounds. That was as close as the Cougars got to tying the game and the epic comeback fell just short.
1. Washington State 32, Washington 31
Nov. 19, 1988 – Pullman, Wash.
The Cougars were putting together their best regular season in more than 50 years, but still had to beat Washington in the snow. The Huskies jumped out to a 28-16 halftime lead, but Washington State scored 10 points to close the lead to 31-26. In the fourth quarter, cornerback Shawn Landrum blocked a Washington punt and the Cougars recovered the ball on the Huskies’ 13-yard line. Facing a fourth-and-2, Wazzu quarterback Timm Rosenbach took the snap, rolled left and cut up the middle for a five-yard touchdown. With the win, the Cougars were 8-3 and accepted a bid to the Aloha Bowl, their first postseason game in seven years.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.
(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)