SEATTLE -- Here are five storylines as No. 25 Washington prepares to wrap up Pac-12 play with its annual Apple Cup matchup against Washington State:
1. Proof of progress: With a win Friday, the Huskies will secure their first eight-win season under coach Steve Sarkisian. In fact, it will be the first time Washington has hit eight wins since 2001.
A victory this week and a bowl win to wrap up the season would be the best finish for the program since 2000, when the Huskies went 11-1 and beat Purdue in the Rose Bowl.
2. Cross-state rivalry: Since Washington and Washington State first played in 1900, the Huskies hold a 67-31-6 advantage in the annual rivalry game. Washington is looking for its fourth straight win against the Cougars.
3. First-quarter offense: During Washington’s recent four-game winning streak the positives are plentiful. However, for everything the Huskies have done right, it has been a struggle to post points early in games.
Utah and Colorado kept Washington off the scoreboard in the first quarter and, over the past four games, the Huskies have just 10 points during that first frame. If the team finds some early offense, it would certainly help knock their rivals on their heels early this week.
4. Struggles on the Palouse: This wasn’t the season Mike Leach expected when he took over as Washington State’s coach. The Cougars have lost eight in a row and have beaten just one FBS opponent. Over their past three losses, they have allowed at least 44 points in each game.
Washington State does, however, have a potent passing attack, averaging 328.6 passing yards, which ranks No. 10 in the nation. The Huskies have defended the pass well in 2012, though, and are ranked No. 9 in the nation, surrendering 174.3 yards per game.
5. Friday Night Lights, Part II: It is a brave new world in college football where games are no longer a necessary staple of Saturday afternoons. Night games and midweek matchups have become the norm. The Huskies are preparing for their second Friday game of the season, when they kick off against the Cougars at 12:30 p.m. PT the day after Thanksgiving.
The good news? Well, Washington knocked off Stanford on a Thursday, and the Huskies beat Cal on a Friday, so the program seems to adjust well when asked to adapt its routine.