PULLMAN -- For senior running back Carl Winston, the clock is ticking and his career as a Cougar is winding down. Winston said his time on the Palouse has changed his life, and looks forward to going out on top with a win over his purple and gold nemesis. For junior safety Deone Bucannon, this Apple Cup poses plenty of opportunities, including the chance to put a wallop on one Husky in particular.
The students are home for Thanksgiving break and the game will be played Friday, less than 24 hours after Thanksgiving dinner – the crowd isn’t expected to be a huge one. That doesn’t mean it's going to feel any different, said Carl Winston.
“(Expect) the biggest atmosphere you’ve ever seen,” Carl Winston said. “They hate us and we hate them.”
Winston, clearly flowing with adrenaline at the thought of defeating his cross-state rivals, said the rivalry is one aspect of his career that he has thoroughly enjoyed. Winston was emphatic in his position that Washington has held bragging rights for three years -- three years too many that is.
“We’re here to change that,” Winston said. “It would mean a lot for these guys. They’ll have some momentum headed to the offseason.”
Winston, although reluctant to admit, won’t be permitted to embrace that momentum. As a senior, the Apple Cup will be his final game donning the crimson and gray. Winston is just 73 yards shy of rushing for 1,000 yards in his career as a Coug.
“It’s a very emotional game,” Winston said. “I’m thankful to be a Coug. To go out there on my last game with my brothers. We’ve been here riding together for four years. I want to win this one for the seniors. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster since we’ve been here.”
Winston added that although he is disinclined to leave Washington State, he knows the current coaching staff has a system put in place to ensure prolonged success for quite some time for the rolling hill to relish.
“When I come back and visit, I can’t wait for Cougar football to be back on top,” Winston said. “It’s unfortunate I’ll only get to experience one year with (the coaches).”
Conversely, Deone Bucannon said he’s eager to get another crack at the Huskies and continue to build this program closer to the top.
Bucannon wants to put the seniors out on top.
“This is going to be a huge game that these seniors can tell their kids about some day,” Bucannon said. “You just want to be remembered.”
Bucannon, who arguably is having the best year of his Cougar career, said the Apple Cup is an honor to be a part of. Bucannon’s 95 tackles and four interceptions are both career highs.
“I haven’t got a victory in the Apple Cup yet, but I’m looking forward to this one,” Bucannon said. “To ruin (their) season, it’ll help us. It’ll motivate us to play even harder against UW.”
The Huskies also possess tainted jewels.
Sophomore running back Bishop Sankey was once the gem of the state. Rated as a four-star prospect out of Spokane, and committed to Washington State, Sankey flipped his commitment to Washington.
“Everybody wants to hit him,” Bucannon said. “We’re going to go out there and play them as hard as we can.”
Sankey is enjoying a solid year for the Huskies, totaling over 1,000 yards on the ground.
“We don’t really talk about it, it doesn’t really matter that he’s not on our team…I’m not going to say anything to him but I’m going to give him everything I have each time he comes through the hole,” Bucannon said. “I’m not too much of a talker but I’m definitely going to let him know I’m there.”
Bucannon said aside from a Cougar win, to make his Thanksgiving complete he also needs macaroni n’ cheese with layered noodles and every kind of cheese imaginable.
Bucannon moves quite nimbly for a man so focused on food. The junior said earlier this year that he eats an entire Papa Johns pizza before every home game.
Explains why he hits like a sack of potatoes.
The Cougs had Sunday night off, but will hold key practices Monday-Wednesday in preparation for the game.
The Apple Cup will be played at 12:30 p.m. in Martin Stadium this Friday (TV: Fox)