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Originally published November 17, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified November 17, 2008 at 10:01 AM

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Apple Cup | Who's worse? Odds say Cougs

The Washington Huskies are 0-10 this season. Losers of a school-record 12 straight. Owners of an offense on pace to be the worst in the...

Seattle Times staff reporter

The Washington Huskies are 0-10 this season. Losers of a school-record 12 straight. Owners of an offense on pace to be the worst in the school's history in more than 40 years.

And 8 ½-point favorites to beat Washington State Saturday in Pullman in the 101st Apple Cup.

"I was thinking the same thing — it doesn't seem right," said Scott Ramsey, a college football analyst for the Las Vegas Sports Consultants, who helped set the spread for Saturday's game. "But you have two bad teams. One just happens to be much worse than the other."

And despite all of UW's recent losing, Ramsey and his Vegas cohorts decided the Cougars are worse.

Ramsey said he and three others at LVSC gather each Sunday to set the lines for the upcoming week's games. In this case, the foursome varied quite a bit — one had UW favored by only four, another as high as 11 ½.

They settled in the middle, at 8 ½, which is right around where Ramsey said he set his personal line. Ramsey said he simply thinks the Huskies — the only winless team in the Bowl Subdivision — are just a little better than the Cougars, whose only win is against lower division Portland State.

"It's no different than any other line," he said. "You want to look at both teams, their recent games, how the line moved, what the results were, and then you change your power ratings as a result."

The Huskies haven't been favored all season and are just 1-9 against the spread

The last time they were favored was the 2007 Apple Cup, which they entered as six-point favorites before losing 42-35.

That game was the start of UW's current losing streak, which reached an even dozen with a desultory 27-7 loss to UCLA and former UW coach Rick Neuheisel Saturday night.

The Huskies looked so blasé in that defeat — gaining just 135 yards overall and 39 in the second half — that it again raised the issue of the wisdom of having Tyrone Willingham finish out the season as head coach after being told he wouldn't be back next season.

Willingham again defended the decision, pointing out it was the decision of the school to ask him to stay.

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"I don't think our football team has quit," he said. "I think they're still trying and they're still putting forth the effort to be successful."

Despite being on track for maybe the worst season in Huskies history, UW players insist they will find ample motivation for the Apple Cup — the Cougars have won it three of the past four years.

Running back Brandon Johnson, meanwhile, interrupted a question about the Huskies not having won in a calendar year by predicting UW will emerge victorious in one of its two remaining games, saying "we will win, we will win."

Center Juan Garcia, a native of Yakima, acknowledged that the matchup looms as one of the worst in the history of the series.

"We have no right to overlook them and they have no right to overlook us," he said. "I wish they were good and we were better. But it is what it is and I have to look at it as this is the Apple Cup and it is my last one."

And despite a combined record of the two teams of 1-20, at least one Huskies player maintained the Apple Cup still holds special meaning.

"You do not have to do much to get hyped for the Apple Cup," said defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim. "I have been waiting for this game for the entire year. I think I could wake up any day of the year and play Washington State. That is how excited I am for this game."

He may be alone in that assessment.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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