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November 27, 2012
The Huskies blew an 18-point lead in the fourth quarter to the worst team in the Pac-12. The 2012 Apple Cup in Pullman was supposed to send the Dawgs into a bowl game on a high note; winners of five in a row, securing their best regular season record since 2001 and more importantly bragging rights for state supremacy.
However, the Huskies did what the Cougars are so notorious for: They "Coug'd" it. The Cougars completely dominated the fourth quarter, and the Huskies helped them often.
Every Husky fan around the country is quick to blame Travis Coons for the missed field goal at the end of regulation. In reality the game should have never even reached the point it did. Coons should have never been called on to kick a game winning field goal. How can a far more superior team both offensively and defensively blow such a big lead to a team that barely squeaked past Eastern Washington and UNLV? There's no sense in trying to point any fingers but a couple of key moments cost Washington the game.
When the momentum switches sides teams have an incredibly hard time getting it back. Momentum may be overlooked in many instances, but when you're playing in the Apple Cup momentum is your best friend. Many players on both teams have friends on the opposing sideline, in the crowd, and watching it televised across the state; raising the stakes for this game that much more.
Washington State wanted this game more than UW, and it was clear when they completely dismantled them in the fourth quarter and overtime. UW was unable to put together an offensive drive during the whole fourth quarter, causing the defensive unit to be tired and on their heels. The crowd was amped up and so were the players, you could feel the tension building and had that gut feeling that the Cougs were going to complete the comeback.
Bishop Sankey was just getting into a rhythm, which was opening up the passing game. Perhaps the Huskies should have continued to grind it out on the ground. Given Sankey's history with the Cougs, dating back to his time as a recruit, he surely had some added motivation to win this one.
Keith Price looked lost out there, and a second-year starting quarterback on a promising young team you must have more composure than that. Price is the leader of the offense, and when he struggles so does the team. Why not involve your All-American tight end more? There are tons of questions that could be asked about that game, but in the end it falls right into the hands of the coaching staff.
The team struggles in the first half, struggles away from Seattle, and struggles to get the momentum back on their side. There are plenty of play-makers on both sides of the ball. That is not the problem. Washington is recruiting very well these days. Talent isn't the issue. The issue is discipline, focus and making better decisions in crunch-time.