Washington remains undefeated with thrilling win over rival Washington State, wins Apple Cup

The Washington Huskies needed a late field goal to secure the Apple Cup and a 12-0 regular season record. Grady Gross nailed a 42-yarder to give the Huskies a 24-21 win over the rival Washington State Cougars.

Heisman Trophy candidate Michael Penix Jr. tossed a pair of touchdown passes, both of which were caught by Rome Oduze. The junior wide receiver hauled in a 40-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter and grabbed a 21-yarder on the final play of the third quarter to give the Huskies a 21-14 lead.

Saturday’s matchup marked the likely final time Washington and Washington State will meet as Pac-12 rivals, as the majority of its members will depart for other conferences next year.

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Washington Huskies kicker celebrates

Nov 25, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington Huskies place kicker Grady Gross (95) celebrates after making a game-winning field goal against the Washington State Cougars during the fourth quarter at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. (Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports)

The Huskies still have one more challenge ahead, facing Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game on Dec. 1 in Las Vegas with a victory likely putting Washington into the College Football Playoff.

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Penix has performed well this season, but he did not appear to be at his sharpest against the Cougars. He seemed to have multiple miscommunications with his pass catchers, and he made a few questionable throws on the final drive. He finished 18 of 33 for 204 yards.

Washington will certainly need him to be better in next week’s conference title game.

Washington Huskies celebrates winning the Apple Cup

Head coach Kalen DeBoer of the Washington Huskies celebrates the 115th Apple Cup after beating Washington State Cougars 24-21 at Husky Stadium on November 25, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Penix did make a handful of big throws and often looked Odunze’s way when they were needed. 

Odunze’s 40-yard TD came on a play-action pass and a blown coverage by the Cougars. His 21-yard score came one play after Jack Westover made a diving grab for 19 yards.

Michael Penix throws the football

Michael Penix Jr. #9 of the Washington Huskies throws the ball during the second quarter against the Washington State Cougars  at Husky Stadium on November 25, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

Washington State quarterback Cam Ward threw three touchdowns, but also had three interceptions. Ward threw touchdowns of 21 yards to Josh Kelly and 25 yards to Kyle Williams in the first half, and his 8-yard TD pass to Lincoln Victor with 5:58 left pulled the Cougars even at 21.

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But Washington State couldn’t take advantage of holding the Huskies to a three-and-out on Washington’s ensuing possession. Ward was incomplete on third down from his own 47 and the Cougars punted back to Washington with 1:59 remaining.

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The Cougars needed a win to reach bowl eligibility after snapping a six-game losing streak last week against the Colorado Buffaloes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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