The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Willman: CFB National Championship a fun day for Coug fans

A great day to be a Coug
The Huskies wore gold helmets with a purple “W” for the 2023 Apple Cup, Nov. 25, in Seattle, Wash.

Just to get it started, I think it was absurd to believe that fans of WSU would root for the Huskies due to “state pride.” Does that not kind of get rid of the whole point of a state rivalry? 

I have friends who go to UW, I have friends who play sports at UW, I have people I know that are alumni of UW and actively root for the Huskies. For them, I wanted them to win. But for the people of X and those who did not attend the University, I wanted them to lose SO BAD. 

For whatever reason, I also kind of like Michigan. Maybe it is just because I never really liked Ohio State. Maybe it is because they were a team I enjoyed watching. But for that reason, rooting for the Wolverines became easy. 

Donovan Edwards, my hero, made it look like it would be a blowout. Breaking multiple runs throughout the game and putting Michigan on the board first, he executed on the Huskies’ biggest weakness: run defense. 

Even when Michigan had the lead, I knew all too well that Washington had the firepower to respond. However, Michael Penix Jr. had an uncharacteristic game. He missed several plays, missing Rome Odunze on what looked to be a walk-in touchdown, missing open guys down the seams several times and, overall, really struggling with accuracy. 

Penix got sacked; he threw two interceptions and he only completed 53% of his passes. I was shocked. I knew that he had been dealing with some nagging injuries and seemingly re-aggravating it during the game, but he also was coming off making some of the most beautiful and perfect throws I have ever seen against Texas.

Over four quarters, UW managed just 301 yards in total. Michigan had 303 yards on the ground. Despite converting just a single third-down play, the Wolverines averaged 7.8 yards per play and scored 34 points. 

Washington’s potent offense had just 13 points. The fourth quarter sealed the victory for the Huskies’ future rivals. Michigan had 14 points alone in the final 15, more than UW had all game. 

It is unfair to overlook the missed calls. There were several times that Michigan had seemingly held UW on either side of the ball, and the referees did not call it. While this is true, obviously, that sometimes happens. It was not exclusive to one side. Each team had five total penalties for 30 and 45 yards, respectively.

More so, it felt poetic even. UW got away with several uncalled penalties all season, especially against WSU. If you’re on X or other social media platforms and in WSU football circles, I’m sure you’ve seen the screenshot of the end-around to Odunze at the end of the Apple Cup on a fourth-and-one play that contributed to the game-winning drive for Washington. 

There were several missed calls on that play that benefited UW. Against Arizona State, UW benefited on some calls. According to an AI formula, Washington was the single luckiest team in college football in 2023, meaning they were much worse than their 14-1 record. In a “perfectly balanced” world, they would not have made the National Championship. 

No matter those circumstances, Husky fans are understandably upset about the loss in the title game. If it had happened to WSU, many people would be the same way. That does not change the fact that Michigan proved to be the better team. 

Blake Corum’s 134 rushing yards and Edwards finishing with 104 yards on just six carries proved that the Wolverines had a perfectly executed game plan to exploit UW’s weakness and capitalize on their own greatest strengths. 

Speaking in general, I have no doubts in my mind that the rivalry between UW and WSU is fun. It makes being a student at WSU more fun. It makes having friends that go to UW more fun. It makes watching the National Championship that made UW look like an afterthought so much more fun.

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About the Contributor
BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be the Editor-in-chief starting in summer 2023 and served in the position from May 2023 to February 2024 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.