When it came to deciding the worst team in major conference football (if not all of America), 60 minutes just wasn't enough time.
Washington State (2-10) outlasted rival Washington (0-11) 16-13 in double overtime, setting off a raucous celebration at midfield of Martin Stadium among Wazzu players and fans.
Although the quality of play definitely lived down to the billing, the 101st Apple Cup did provide a thrilling finish. (Or a tragic finish, if you're a tortured Huskies fan.)
Washington State entered today ranked 118th in both scoring offense (12.64 points per game) and total offense (236.36 yards per game), and in the game's first 59 minutes, the Cougars plodded along with its usual ineffectiveness. So when the Cougs got the ball back at their own 20 facing a 10-7 deficit with 56 seconds left and no timeouts, I began writing the "Washington finally wins a game" take. Seriously -- this game was over.
Then Kevin Lopina turned into John Elway.
The Cougars junior quarterback, who entered today with a touchdown-to-interception rate of 0-to-8, completed 4 of 6 passes for 69 yards to set up Nico Grasu's game-tying field goal on the last play of regulation.
In the first overtime, both teams exchanged field goals. But in the first possession of the second overtime, Washington kicker Ryan Perkins -- missed a 28-yard field goal with 3:24 left in the fourth quarter -- missed from 37. Although Wazzu only gained five yards in its ensuing possession, Grasu hit a 37-yard field goal for the win.
For the Cougars, this marks their second victory of the season, but their first over an FBS opponent. More importantly, first-year coach Paul Wulff won't be remembered for directing the worst team in Pac-10 history. Washington's lame-duck coach, Tyrone Willingham, may not be so lucky.
Unless the Huskies can upset Cal in Berkeley next week, they will end up with the program's first winless season since 1890 (when Washington tied the only game it played). Since the Pac-10 expanded to 10 teams in 1978, there has been only one winless team -- 1978 Oregon State. Unless the Golden Bears get lost on their way to Memorial Stadium, it looks like we may have a second.
Up to this point, the 2008 Huskies have lost 11 games by an average of 23.9 points. So, the question remains: Is this the worst team in the proud history of the Pacific 10 conference?