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What is the Apple Cup? Washington vs. Washington State rivalry explained

One of the nation’s most well-known college football rivalry games, the Apple Cup has occurred annually since 1900. This year, one of its foes is looking to make history while the other maintains an outside chance at a prestigious bowl game.

What is the Apple Cup?

The Apple Cup is the annual meeting between the state of Washington’s two largest universities: The University of Washington and Washington State University. The Huskies and Cougars have played every year since 1900, save for last season’s COVID-19 cancellation.

Traditionally, the game follows Thanksgiving and is each team’s last regular-season game. Since the extension of the college football season to 12 games back in 2006, the contest has most commonly been played on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Washington and Washington State have played each other 121 times, and the Huskies own a distinct advantage. Currently, Washington leads the series at 74-32-6. The Huskies also own the largest margin of victory with their 48-point win over the Cougars in 2000 (51-3).

Thoroughly dominant through stretches of the rivalry, Washington also owns the longest win streak — two times over. UW has won eight straight contests over WSU on two different occasions: 1959-1966 and 1974-1981.

They’ve currently won seven in a row dating back to 2013 and will look to match the longest win streak in the rivalry’s history this year.

While the game was originally played for the “Governor’s Trophy,” the state’s reputation for producing apples saw the teams rename the rivalry game to the Apple Cup in 1962. Washington’s governor presents the Apple Cup trophy following the contest.

When is the Apple Cup in 2021?

  • Date: Friday, November 26, 2021
  • Start time: 8 PM ET
  • TV channel: Fox Sports 1

The Huskies were eliminated from bowl contention and are without a head coach after the Jimmy Lake era ended in a non-serendipitous way. Washington is left with more questions than answers entering this year’s Apple Cup, yet is just a 1-point underdog at home.

Like Washington, the Cougars are also without their head coach after Nick Rolovich’s widely-publicized firing due to his vaccination status. Rolovich also never got to coach in the Apple Cup himself.

Husky Stadium will be the venue this season as Washington State enters having last defeated Washington in Seattle back in 2007. The Huskies own a  clear advantage in this rivalry at home, currently holding a record of 42-14-5 against the Cougars. They’ve won the last six games, and eight of 10 played in Seattle since 2001.

What to watch for in the Apple Cup in 2021

The Apple Cup may look a bit different than in years past in 2021. As mentioned, both teams will be without their intended long-term head coach. With Lake and Rolovich out, questions remain at just about every position on the field and off. Which members of the respective coaching staffs will make it past this year’s Apple Cup? Which players may transfer out?

Additionally, we may get our first eyes on true freshman QB Sam Huard, who might make his first collegiate start for Washington. Huard has played in spot duty across three games this season, but he could make his first start as the Huskies are looking for a reset. Dylan Morris hasn’t done enough to win the hearts of fans. Plus, interim head coach Bob Gregory has been admittedly quiet on the club’s quarterback situation.

Huard is a former five-star recruit and the third-ranked quarterback from his recruiting class. A legacy athlete, Huard is the son of former NFL QB Damon Huard and the nephew of former Washington QB and ESPN analyst Brock Huard. We’ll see if Gregory goes for a switch at quarterback to potentially give his team a spark.

The Apple Cup is full of other delicious positional battles. The Washington secondary has a couple of next-level prospects in Kyler Gordon and Trent McDuffie, while Washington State’s Calvin Jackson Jr. has risen up draft boards this season.

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