What Does Losing The Apple Cup Really Mean?

We are 7-5 overall, 5-4 in the Pac-12.  Had we won, we would’ve been 8-4 overall, 6-3 in the Pac-12.

Here’s the breakdown of the Pac-12 by conference record:

  • Stanford (8-1)
  • Oregon (8-1)
  • UCLA (6-3)
  • Oregon State (6-3)
  • USC (5-4)
  • Washington (5-4)
  • Arizona State (5-4)
  • Arizona (4-5)
  • Utah (3-6)
  • Cal (2-7)
  • Colorado (1-8)
  • WSU (1-8)

Assuming what we can assume right now, Stanford will be playing in the Rose Bowl.  Oregon will likely be playing in some other BCS Bowl.  A Husky win could have theoretically vaulted us into the Top 3.  But, you have to consider that UCLA is in the Pac-12 Championship game.  Even losing that game doesn’t change their conference record.  They would still be considered a bigger “get” for the Alamo Bowl, so that was never going to happen.

Next up is the Holiday Bowl.  A common misconception is that these bowls simply take the teams in order of how they finished.  That isn’t the case at all.  In reality, a bowl is allowed to take any team within 1 game of the next-best team.  So, assuming UCLA would go to the Alamo Bowl (even if they somehow beat Stanford, that just means that Stanford would be playing in the Alamo, so either way, shut up), that leaves a theoretical 6-3 Washington team alongside Oregon State as well as the 5-4 teams USC and Arizona State for the Holiday Bowl.  Not for nothing, but there’s no way Holiday passes up a chance at USC, so THAT’S out.

Which leaves the Sun Bowl followed by the Vegas Bowl.  Are we REALLY all that upset about losing out on the Sun Bowl?  If that indeed went to Oregon State (which was a possibility), then there’s a chance we wouldn’t have had the Sun Bowl either way.

Lots of people are predicting that Washington goes to Vegas.  That’s with their pitiful 5-4 record.  Is that really such a bad thing?  As a Husky fan, where would you rather go?  El Paso, or Las Vegas?  Shit, I know where I’d rather be!

So, if you can’t be too upset about our bowl destination, what else is there to be upset about?

Pride, mostly.  Losing to a winless Cougars team is a real shot to the ol’ pride.  It leaves one asking, “How far have we come under this regime, REALLY?”  We’ve finished the last two seasons with a 7-6 record and guess what’s on the table this year!  Is that really the kind of improvement we’re looking for?

I mean, yeah, I guess you could look at it like that.  Even if you look on the positive side of things (meaning we go into this bowl game and win it), that’s only a 1-game improvement.  Not exactly the kind of sea change we were hoping for.

That’s exactly the kind of bullshit that makes people look down on most sports fans.  Impatience.  It’s not a virtue!  For every extra season you give a Tyrone Willingham (when he probably didn’t deserve it), there are just as many instances of a team giving up too soon on a Bob Melvin (who goes on to win manager of the year multiple times with other teams).  It’s the reason why a school will win the BCS championship, then fire the very same head coach two years later.  I mean, are you KIDDING ME?  Who fires the guy who brought you to the Promised Land?

I find it’s better to take these things one year at a time.  What were our expectations going into this year?  A logical expectation would’ve been in the range of 7-5.  We’re a program that’s still growing, still trying to improve, still trying to get out from under 2008 and the whole Willingham Era.  In that sense, is 8-4 REALLY that much better than 7-5?

Not really.  It’s ONE better.

So, in losing the Apple Cup, our record is ONE worse than it would’ve been.  It’s not that far off of what we expected going into the season.  It hurts our pride a little bit to lose to a clearly-inferior team.  And we go to probably the same bowl we would’ve gone to either way.

It’s not the end of the world.

And, if you’re like me, then you’re completely irrational about these types of things.  You believe that we’re “paying” now, with this upset defeat, so that later we will reap the rewards later by NOT being upset by the Cougs.  When it will hopefully REALLY matter.  When an Apple Cup defeat would actually be something that’s devastating, something that will truly need to be lamented for the shame that it is.  Instead of shrugged off, which is how I feel right now about 2012’s Apple Cup.

Do you have a younger sibling?  I’m talking, like, 3-6 years younger here.  Did you ever play sports against your younger sibling?  If you did, then you’re probably like me:  you probably expected to beat your younger sibling each and every time.  That’s just the way it is with siblings.  But, every once in a while, your younger sibling will get hot, and out of nowhere they’ll beat you at whatever game you happened to be playing.  That doesn’t mean you HATE them for beating you; more than anything they probably just got lucky and you’ll beat them all the more the next time you play them.

That’s what it’s like when the Huskies lose to the Cougs.  It’s like losing to your little brother at basketball or something.  I don’t HATE the Cougs, but I don’t exactly take delight when they beat us either.  I just accept it and move on, with a resolve to beat their asses twice as hard next time.

The Ducks, on the other hand … that’s like getting beat by your worst enemy.  I wish nothing but catastrophic death for each and every Duck.  If I ever find a genie with a magic lamp, just try to guess what two of my first three wishes will be.

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