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Updated: Saturday, November 23, 2002 12:05 PM EST
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Washington (6-5) at No. 3 Washington St (9-1)
WASHINGTON HUSKIES
Washington Huskies
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WASHINGTON ST. COUGARS
Washington St. Cougars
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PULLMAN, Washington (Ticker) -- The stakes for Washington State are as high as its lofty ranking.

The third-ranked Cougars are enjoying the best ranking in school history and can clinch the Pac-10 Conference title and at least a Rose Bowl berth with a win over Washington in Saturday's annual battle for the Apple Cup.

It is an unusual role for the Cougars, who are favored in the game for just the seventh time in the last 46 years.

The Cougars (9-1, 6-0) will be well rested after a bye week, but will be facing an opponent that seems to have found its way with back-to-back wins over Oregon State and Oregon.

Cody Pickett became the Pac-10 Conference's all-time single-season passer leader and Reggie Williams had a school-record 14 catches and three touchdowns for Washington in a 42-14 victory over Oregon last week.

With one game remaining, Pickett has thrown for 3,818 yards this season, breaking the previous Pac-10 mark of 3,637 set by Washington State's Ryan Leaf in 1997, the year the Cougars won their only previous Pac-10 title.

"I thought they really looked good, and it was a great win for the Huskies," Washington State coach Mike Price said. "It gives them a lot of momentum going into this game."

Price is careful to treat Washington with respect. His record against Washington is a mere 3-10. The last win for the Cougars in the series was a 41-35 decision in 1997 that sent them to the Rose Bowl.

Washington coach Rick Neuheisel is 4-0 against the Cougars, including a 3-0 mark as Husky coach.

It has been a disapointing season for the Huskies (6-5, 4-2), but it will be much better if it ends any national title hopes of the Cougars. Washington has not had a losing season since 1976.

Washington State is third in the latest Bowl Championship Series standings and needs to win Saturday and at UCLA on December 7 to have any shot at advancing to the Fiesta Bowl.

Saturday features an intriguing matchup of Pickett and the Cougars' Jason Gesser, who has at least three TD passes in four games this season. Gesser has thrown a TD pass in 22 straight contests.

Devard Darling of Washington State has caught 10 touchdown passes this year, one short of the Cougar record set by Chris Jackson and Kevin McDenzie in 1997.

On the other side of the ball, Washington State has allowed just a combined 80 rushing yards in the last three games. The Cougars should be able to shut down a Husky running game that is averaging just 2.3 yards per carry. Rich Alexis leads Washington with 598 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.

A loss by Southern California to UCLA also will clinch the Pac-10 title for Washington State.


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