Defense, turnovers fuel Washington's Apple Cup win over Washington State

Needing to keep their season alive with a fourth straight win over rival Washington State in the Apple Cup, the Washington Huskies capitalized on turnovers and leaned on freshman running back Myles Gaskin en route to a 45-10 win over the Cougars. The win makes Washington the Pac-12’s 10th bowl-eligible team, a conference record.

Gaskin rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries while the Huskies forced seven turnovers and scored three times on defense. Washington State’s Peyton Bender, filling in at quarterback for the injured Luke Falk, was 36-of-58 for 288 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

What the win means for the Huskies: It depends how you look at it. Some would say the most important fact is that this is Washington’s sixth win over the Cougars in seven tries. A lot of folks in Seattle would take this viewpoint. That’s the fan talking. But from a building and growth standpoint, becoming bowl eligible is huge for a program with young players because you have the extra practice time. Plus, it wasn’t just a win -- it was a blowout. There's no greater confidence builder than blowing out your rival. And it was a pretty good time for a coach to validate his extension.

What the loss means for the Cougars: Losing to a rival never feels good. Especially when your rival becomes bowl eligible at your expense. But an eight-win season is nothing to shake a stick at -- especially for a program that had just three wins last year and opened this season with a loss to an FCS team. It was obvious the Cougars are a better team with Falk in the lineup. And for Bender, making his first career start against the conference’s top defense was a tough assignment.

How the game was won: Defense, defense, defense. The Huskies came into this game as the only team in the league allowing fewer than 20 points per game. They peppered Bender all afternoon, never allowing him to find a rhythm, and the secondary was absolutely outstanding against the nation’s top passing offense. Combine that with 28 points off of seven turnovers and an outstanding performance by Gaskin and you’ve earned an Apple Cup win.

Game ball goes to: Gaskin obviously receives a lot of the credit for what he did offensively. But cornerback Sidney Jones was absolutely lockdown this game. He had a clutch interception toward the end of the first half, returning it 69 yards for a touchdown. He finished with six tackles and three of the Huskies’ eight pass breakups.