One bad apple could sink Cougs’ season

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before ...

Washington State’s down-to-the-wire victories over Stanford and Cal the past two weeks have shown an admirable gutty streak from the Cougs.

And those wins also mean that, once again, the Apple Cup is almost certain to decide the winner of the Pac-12 North.

It would take a very weird set of circumstances to prevent Washington’s visit to Pullman on Nov. 23 from deciding the North champion.

Wazzu could even suffer an upset in either of its two games prior to the Apple Cup — at Colorado, then home against Arizona — and still reach the conference title game by dispatching the Huskies.

However ...

Coug fans have seen this movie, and it doesn’t usually end well.

The Apple Cup has ruined the end of numerous seasons on the Palouse, sometimes with real rewards just close enough to touch.

NOTE SOME irony this time around, though, since the Huskies haven’t been any kind of real bullies.

Not like we’re used to seeing.

They’ve needed to survive for wins almost every week to give themselves a shot in the conference race — and you could argue that they’re actually luckier to be in this spot than the 10th-ranked Cougs.

In fact, once-fancied Washington has not blown out a single Pac-12 opponent, and has losses to Oregon and Cal hanging around its neck.

But as we know so well, Wazzu has frozen in the Apple Cup — often enough to suffer almost permanent frostbite.

So, some nerves in Pullman?

Let’s check the archives ... hmmm ...

WSU has lost the Apple Cup five times in a row — plus seven of the last eight and 15 of the previous 20.

But now fast forward: For once, Mike Leach has enough bona fide talent to win one of these damn things.

I’m gonna guess it’s this year.

Yeah, I know ...

Go ahead and start sawing off that limb.

MEANWHILE, the Seahawks have stumbled ungracefully out of NFL competition fairly early this autumn.

Way back at the end of training camp, when all the buzz concerned Earl Thomas’ walkout and the search for help on the offensive line, we drew the conclusion that after a string of exciting seasons, this one just might be a dud.

In fact, we used the word “average” to describe how it could go.

Well, how’s this for average?

The Hawks are 4-4.

All four victories have come against teams with losing records (Cowboys, Cardinals, Raiders, Lions).

Actually, the Seahawks will have to keep the battered Russell Wilson intact the rest of the way just to STAY average.

THEY DO get five of their remaining eight games at home, but those five include the Packers, Vikings and Chiefs.

Plus, two of the roadies are the Rams and Carolina.

If the Seahawks were going to stage an improbable run and sneak into the playoffs this time around, they needed to be at least 6-2 at this halfway mark.

At least ...

Sitting at 4-4, facing that schedule with the West division already won by the Rams and a barrel of really good wild-card wannabes lining up in the NFC, ah ...

Nothing’s impossible, but this is close — especially since the Seahawks aren’t really all that good.

Sunday’s loss at home to the Chargers was the last piece of evidence.

The Hawks are just about ...

Average.

• • •

Steve Cameron is a columnist for The Press.

A Brand New Day appears from Wednesday through Saturday each week.

Steve’s sports column runs on Tuesday.

Email: scameron@cdapress.com

Facebook: BrandNewDayCDAPress

Twitter: @BrandNewDayCDA

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