PULLMAN - The Apple Cup has strange and mystical powers.
For example, Washington State quarterback Jeff Tuel says he loved drinking “purple Gatorade” until he moved to Pullman last year from California.
Purple, you see, is the dominant color of the archrival Washington Huskies.
Now, Tuel says, he won’t touch the grape-flavored Gatorade. The sophomore has been quick to pick up on the fervor that surrounds an in-state rivalry he knew nothing about until he was recruited by the Cougars.
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“All people care about is the Apple Cup, it seems like,” Tuel said. “It seems like no matter how your season’s going, if you win the Apple Cup, it was a great year.”
Tuel said his football experience in the snow has been limited to a few practices the past two years. He seems unconcerned about an Apple Cup weather forecast that calls for a high of 29 degrees and a 20 percent chance of snow Saturday in Pullman.
“It’s awesome,” Tuel said. “I’m fired up about it.”
The Cougars, of course, are supposed to have an advantage over the Huskies in cold weather.
“It’s not a big deal I’m not worried about it,” said Washington quarterback Jake Locker, who played in snow while growing up in Ferndale near the Canadian border in northwest Washington.
Wind-blown snow fell all afternoon Tuesday in Pullman, which led the Cougars to practice indoors for the second straight day after taking six days off for Thanksgiving break.
Starting cornerback Daniel Simmons is not practicing and is expected to remain sidelined with a nerve injury in his shoulder. Starting offensive left tackle John Fullington, a true freshman out of North Mason High School, has recovered from an ankle sprain that he suffered in practice two weeks ago.
The Cougars have not played since dominating Oregon State in a 31-14 win Nov. 13. Coach Paul Wulff acknowledged that rust could be a factor Saturday, but several players said that they feel refreshed.
LOCKER ON LOCKER
Locker is playing with a broken rib, but he expects no favors if first cousin Casey Locker – a reserve safety for the Cougars – gets a clear shot at him.
“I’m sure he’ll try to hit me harder than he’ll hit anyone else,” Jake Locker said with a smile.
Locker said he’s certain the two Locker families will “talk some smack” this week.
“I’ve talked to him (Casey) all year and wished him the best,” Locker said. “It’s a little different this week, because I don’t wish him as good this week.”
Locker was joking, of course. His broken rib is no laughing matter, however.
UW coach Steve Sarkisian said Locker is “not healthy by any means,” but the senior QB is not about to take a seat with a bowl bid – quite possibly the Holiday Bowl in San Diego – on the line.
“I’m just sore – general soreness,” Locker said. “I don’t have really any pain.”
More than 5,000 tickets remain unsold. The Huskies returned more than 1,000 of their allotted 4,800 tickets. According to the Sagarin computer rankings, the schedules of Washington (5-6 overall, 4-4 Pacific-10 Conference) and WSU (2-9, 1-7) rank Nos. 1-2 in the nation for difficulty. The Huskies are favored by 61/2 points. Gov. Chris Gregoire is scheduled to present the Apple Cup trophy to the winners after the game. A Holiday Bowl representative plans to attend.