Originally published November 22, 2011 at 8:03 PM | Page modified November 23, 2011 at 1:59 PM

Apple Cup matchup

Chris Polk could be a key once again

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UW running back Chris Polk vs. the WSU defense

While it was a Jake Locker-to-Jermaine Kearse touchdown pass in the final minute that won the Apple Cup for Washington last year, it was tailback Chris Polk who was the true star. He rushed for 284 yards — second-most both in Husky history and the history of the rivalry.

Polk, a junior, returns for another shot at Washington State, having already rushed for 1,241 yards this season, third-most in the Pac-12.

The Cougars, though, are better against the run this year, allowing 4.4 a carry instead of the 5.6 last season, and 158.5 yards a game compared to 220.2 in 2010.

And the Cougars defense has played some of its best run defense in recent weeks, holding Arizona State to 60 yards in Pullman on Nov. 12 for example. Washington State also held Oregon and Stanford far below season averages.

Cougars coach Paul Wulff, though, knows Polk will present a stiff challenge.

"Chris Polk, I think, is the best back in the league, period," he said Tuesday. "So we've got our hands full. He's a guy that can make yards even when things aren't blocked exactly right at times, and he can beat you with his quickness and speed and power and he has good balance. We are not naive to think we are going to stop him, but we've definitely got to do a better job than we did a year ago on him to give ourselves a chance."

Bob Condotta

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