Nov. 16, 2000
PULLMAN, Wash. - For a freshman making only his second start, Matt Kegel has a good handle on Washington State's Apple Cup game against Washington.
"We don't really have anything to lose, the Huskies have everything to lose," the Washington State quarterback said Thursday.
"This is our bowl game, so we're going to play it as if it was our own Rose Bowl. "I look at this game as a great opportunity to do something big."
No. 6 Washington will go to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1993 if it wins and No. 8 Oregon State beats No. 5 Oregon.
"Whatever happens in that game, it still was a great season for us," Huskies quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo said. "But if everything works out Saturday, we will go to a pretty good place, no matter what. I just want to win. That's all I care about."
While the Huskies (9-1, 6-1 Pac-10) hope to represent the Pac-10 in the Rose Bowl, the Cougars (4-6, 2-5) are trying to make up for a disappointing season in the 100th anniversary of the series.
Tuiasosopo, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound senior, has passed for 2,356 yards and rushed for 400 this season, producing 17 touchdowns.
Kegel, the cousin of former Washington State quarterback Ryan Leaf, threw for 242 yards and a touchdown last week in the Cougars' 33-27 victory at Southern California.
The Huskies came from behind in the fourth quarter in five of their conference wins, while the Cougars were beaten four times on opponents' last possessions, including three in overtime.
"Coach (Mike) Price has done a great job there having a team that continues to play hard despite tough, emotional setbacks," Washington coach Rick Neuheisel said. "Three overtime losses could take the gas out of a lot of teams, but not this team."
To win, Price said he must rely on his improving defense to stop Tuiasosopo.
"We'll need to try to get the ball out of his hands by stripping, or punching it out, or doing something," Price said. "If there's anything, that is to get after him. That would be the case."
Tuiasosopo can hurt opponents with either the pass or the run and Price said he hopes his defense can contain the Huskies quarterback.
"I'd rather see him sitting on the bench there, watching Matt Kegel consistently move the ball down the field," Price said. "I think he does both very well - pass and run."
The Huskies can be expected to try to pressure Kegel, who was cool under fire at USC, Neuheisel said.
"Inexperience is always a factor, but sometimes, as the old saying goes, what you don't know doesn't hurt you," he said. "After beating a very talented USC team in the Coliseum, his confidence level ... has got to be immense. He's a very dangerous quarterback to be playing at this time."
Asked if he thought the Huskies might be keying on him, Kegel replied: "Bring it on."
Price said he has shrunk the playbook to make the offense easier for Kegel, who was not intercepted by USC.
"I need to make sure I don't give him too much," Price said. "I want to win this game real bad."
By JOHN K. WILEY
Associated Press Writer