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The Battle for the Apple Cup: Washington at Washington State

AppleCup

This is the 107th all-time meeting for the coveted Apple Cup, and there have been seven outright upsets in the last thirteen years. The underdog has covered the point spread in nine of the last 10 meetings in Pullman, while Washington State head coach is 11-1 SU in Last Home Games (2-0 SU/ATS at Washington State), including a perfect 7-0 SU and 5-0-1 ATS when his team owns a win percentage of .600 or less.

Washington State takes the field with a very good offense that is averaging 33.5 points on 533 total yards at 6.2 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow 5.7 yards per play to mediocre offensive squads. The Cougars are also averaging 40.6 points on 601 total yards at 6.6 yards per play at home this season, which is certainly good enough to move the chains against a good Washington stop unit that is 0.6 yards per play better than average (5.3 yards per play to teams that would combine to average 5.9 yards per play).

The concern for Washington State is with freshman quarterback Lucas Falk, who has been called into action after starting quarterback Connor Halliday broke his leg earlier this month. However, the young signal-caller has looked impressive, throwing for 1,504 yards at 7.8 yards per pass play and 11 touchdowns. Those numbers are actually better than the ones posted by Halliday, who was averaging 7.4 yards per pass attempt prior to breaking his leg. Falk is also completing 66.5% of his pass attempts, while throwing for 601 yards against Arizona State last week.

The problem for Washington State has been a subpar defense that is 0.4 yards per play worse than average (6.2 yards per play to teams that would combine to average 5.8 yards per play). Fortunately, Washington does not possess the offensive firepower to exploit that weakness as the Huskies are 0.4 yards per play worse than average offensively this season (5.4 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow 5.8 yards per play).

Washington’s run-heavy attack is also a bad matchup against a Washington State front seven that is 0.3 yards per rush play better than average in 2014 (4.0 yards per carry to teams that would combine to average 4.3 yards per carry).

From a technical standpoint, Washington State is a profitable 15-6-1 ATS after failing to cover the point spread and 5-2 ATS in its last seven November games, whereas the Huskies are a money-burning 2-6 ATS after covering the spread and 1-4 ATS in their last five games following a blowout win by more than twenty points. Finally, Washington State’s 52-31 loss at Arizona State last week is grossly misleading in that the Cougars actually won the yardage battle, 622-330, but lost due to extreme negative variance (5-0 turnover deficit).

With the home team standing at 4-1 SU and 3-2 ATS in the last five Apple Cup games, grab the generous points with the Cougars and invest with confidence.