The bottom line was that on this night, Washington had a duel-threat quarterback, an explosive running back and the ability to make the Cougars' defense pack up and head to the airport before halftime.
Sophomore signal-caller Keith Price threw for 291 yards and three touchdown passes to break a season school record – at the Cougars' expense.
Washington State was determined to halt the Huskies' running game.
In doing so, it forgot to stop the pass.
"We had a few too many big plays in the passing game," said defensive coordinator Chris Ball. "You take those out of there and I think we played decently. We came into the game wanting to stop the run, and we contained it pretty well."
THE COUGARS WERE able to hold Chris Polk to a mere 100 rushing yards, 34 of them coming on a late draw play, but he also scored two touchdowns, one a 22-yard pass from Price, and the other, a 1-yard dash to close out scoring.
Defensive end Travis Long said that they spent the week focusing on how to contain Polk, who racked up 284 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries in last year's Apple Cup.
"We knew he had a big game last year," said the junior, who finished the night with three tackles and the team's only sack, "so we just had to stop the run and put them in passing situations."
Unfortunately for the Cougars, they didn't discuss what to do once they had the Huskies there.
"We didn't keep containing the quarterback a little bit," said senior defensive tackle Brandon Rankin, who contributed two tackles. "We were rolling out; I missed a couple sacks … (Price) was hurt, but he showed up.
"We just didn't play as well on the passing game."
PROVIDING SOLID EVIDENCE of just that was freshman wide receiver Kasen Williams' leap over sophomore defensive back Nolan Washington during an 18-yard reception that set up a 21-yard scoring pass with 24 seconds left to help the Huskies break a 14-14 tie and take a lead into halftime.
"I think we contained Polk good enough, but it just came down to certain players making plays," said Washington, who had four tackles. "We didn't make enough to win today."
Ball bemoaned that play, saying that it made him sick to his stomach.
"It caught us off guard a little bit, and with our 30-package, we didn't have a great pass rush there," he said. "We would like to have that back, and probably would have gone with a four-man rush … We didn't play very well right there.
"We could have called some better calls, too, to help those kids out."
Coach Paul Wulff said that allowing the Huskies to score 21 points in the first half was "tough" – especially those final seven.
"They got it down there and it was a scramble," he said. "We rushed three and dropped eight and Keith Price spilled the ball out and (we) lost contact with where the receiver was at."
WASHINGTON, WHO CALLED the Apple Cup the worst game of his college career, also expressed frustration over his inability to intercept a 16-yard touchdown pass from Price to Williams at the end of the first quarter.
"I was on him, but I have to get my head around, and that would have been a pick," he said. "That was me not making the play."
Such near misses were a source of disappointment for senior linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis, who had eight tackles, including one for loss.
"That's kind of the theme – giving up big plays," he said. "There were some blown assignments out there and we left some plays out on the field, too. They made more plays than we did.
"It was a team effort. We lost as a team today."
"Ledgerwood was playing awesome, as a senior in his last game," Wulff said. "(Mizell) chose to put his sweats on."
But Ball's explanation fueled speculation that Mizell was unhappy during the game.
"It was an injury," he said, "and other than that, I don't want to talk about it."
Mizell, who started the first nine games of the season before being sidelined with injuries, finished the season with 56 tackles, fourth best among the Cougars.
"We were 10-2 and got a 5-year extension and got fired the next year playing with 64 scholarship players at Alabama," he said, referring to the 2006 season. "You can't worry about that – we're hired guns, you know?"
Ball added that he feels WSU has shown "big improvement" and is headed in the right direction.
"I think Coach Wulff is the guy for the job," he said. "We've got a great staff in place and we've got the whole team coming back … This time last year, we were dead last in defense."
It was Wilson's third game of the season with multiple touchdown receptions. He finished the year with single-season records for receptions (82) and receiving yards (1,388). His 108 yards Saturday marked his sixth game of the season with at least 100 yards.