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Shafer Murray

Shafer Murray

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WSU Loses Big

The Washington State Cougars came into Friday night’s game looking to run the table the rest of the season, but the California Golden Bears had other ideas.  The Cougs were outplayed and gave up seven turnovers against a Cal team on a three game losing streak and were looking for a big win to turn their season around.  Bothell native Ross bowers who beat Chiawana in the state Championship 3 years ago threw for 259 yards and one touchdown, as well as ran for another and his Golden Bears thrashed the eighth ranked Cougars 37-3. 

The game started out strange, and continued that way all night.  On the opening kickoff of the game, freshman receiver Renard Bell took the opening kickoff to the endzone but was nullified by a holding penalty.  Three plays later, Falk was intercepted by Camryn Bynum at the Cougar 20 yard line. On their second possession, the Pac-12 player of the week Erik Powell who made four field goals against Oregon, missed a 49 yard field goal.  In their third possession, on the opening play of the drive, Falk connected with Jamire Calvin for a ten yard gain who then fumbled the ball and Cal’s Devante Downs returned it four yards to the WSU 48. 

On the following possession Vic Enwere  ran the ball 6 yards to the end zone to give the Bears a 10-0 lead late in the first.  The next Cougar possession, Falk put together a 15 play drive that took over 8 minutes, and Luke found Tavares Martin Jr. in the back of the end zone for a touchdown, but was called back because of a slight push off by Martin.  This was something the Cougs have been doing all year, and really didn’t seem to affect the play, but was how it went for WAZZU on Friday night.  Erik Powell connected on a 52 yard field goal for their only points of the game. 

In the final 2 minutes of the half, Falk rushed for 8 yards on 3rd and 10 and was hit in the helmet and called for targeting, which was then over turned.  Mitchell  Cox then punted the ball that went off the side of his foot and sailed 1 yard, so the Bears started their drive from the Cougar 45 yard line with 52 seconds left in the half.  Bowers drove the Bears down to the 2 yard line with two seconds left in the half.  They chose to go for the 6 points, and under pressure, Bowers was able to find Kyle Wells open to give the Bears 17-3 lead at half and  huge control of the game.

Falk came out in the second half firing, but on their first drive out of the locker room, Falk’s shovel pass bounced off the backs arm and intercepted by Raymon Davison at the Cal 14.  The Cougs just couldn’t get it together all night.  Two more of Falk’s five interceptions were deflected off WSU players.  Early in the fourth on 3rd and goal from the seven with the Bears up 20-3, Ross Bowers ran the ball and dove over the goal line, flipping into the endzone.  This looked identical to Bowers flip into the end zone against Chiawana in the state championship in 2014.  The 24 point deficit was too much for the Cougs to overcome this time and the eighth ranked Cougs were shocked by Cal.  “We didn’t play good in any aspect of the game.  Cal outcoached us, Cal outplayed us, “  Mike Leach said.  “They wanted to win more than we did, they tried harder than we did.  Our guys just saunter around the field like we had accomplished something.”

 

The Cougs needed this wake up call.  Last year opened up with two losses, which changed their mindset and following that game, they reeled off eight straight wins.  The Cougs haven’t played up to their potential all season.  They escaped Boise State and USC, but didn’t look like they had it all together, and Friday night showed that.  The Cougs play Colorado at home next Saturday then travel to Arizona.  The Cougs can just learn from their mishaps in this game.  23 yards of Rushing and 337 yards of total offense is uncharacteristic of the Cougs, and have nowhere to go but up.

Cougs Improve to 6-0

Luke Falk threw for 282 yards with 3 touchdowns as the Cougs take down the one loss Oregon Ducks 33-10.  The Cougs traveled down I-5 to play the always dangerous Oregon Ducks in Autzen Stadium.  Last Friday, the Cougs finished off the fifth ranked USC Trojans for their biggest win since 2003, and were in danger of falling into the “Let down game” trap.

Falk put WAZZU on the board early on their first play from scrimmage dumping the ball to running back Jamal Morrow who ran 41 yards to the end zone to put the Cougs up 7-0 early. The Oregon Ducks who had their first and second string quarterbacks knocked out the game last week against Cal, and were starting true freshman Braxton Burmeister who only had one pass as a college quarterback.   “They have an offensive identity that they’ve had for a long time, and obviously that guy was going to try to duplicate that,” Coach Mike Leach said. The Coug defense was licking its chops and put the pressure on the freshman sacking him 4 times.  Late in the first, Burmeister connected with Jacob Breeland for a 30 yard touchdown strike to give the Ducks the 10-7 lead.  The Cougs were able to tack on a couple of field goals, and took a 13-10 lead at half.

To start the half, Falk drove the Cougs 75 yards in 7 plays ending in a 10 yard touchdown pass to Renard Bell. “It was really big because in the first half, we left a lot of points out there,” Falk said, “Kinda takes confidence away from the other side and punching it in gives us tremendous confidence in the second half.”  Late in the third, Burmeister was intercepted by Marcus Strong and returned 27 yards to the Oregon 25 yard line. The next play Falk connected with Isaiah Johnson-Mack for the 25 yard touchdown to put the game away up 30-10 in the fourth.  “It was a tighter game than the score, I did feel like something was going to blow it open.  There are a lot of key points, but I thought one was Luke hitting Isaiah for the touchdown,” Leach said.

 

The Cougs did a great job of adjusting in the second half and held the Duck offense to 277 yards and 132 on the ground which is usually their bread and butter.  The Cougs start 6-0 for the first time since 2001 and go on the road Friday to face Cal who lost their last 2 games including a 38-7 drubbing by the Washington Huskies Saturday night.  The Cougs are going to jump into the top 10 for the first time since the 2003 season.

Cougs Upset Trojans

The Cougs rode Luke Falk’s 340 yards of passing to the upset win over USC.  Jamal Morrow added 136 yards of both running and receiving with two touchdowns to help secure the 30-27 win over the fifth ranked Trojans.

USC quarterback Sam Darnold came into this season as the Heisman front runner, but after 5 games with 9 interceptions, has quickly declined.   There was still a question of whether the Cougars defense was as improved as they looked in the first four weeks or if that was because of the opponents that they’ve played.  Those questions were answered in a big way on Friday night when they were hurrying Darnold all game and forcing him into bad throws.  Darnold is projected as a number one draft pick, but the WAZZU made him look average.

The Cougs offense was slow to get started but got in the end zone early in the 2nd when Falk connected with Tavares Martin Jr. for a 28 yard touchdown to put the Cougs up 10-7.  The Next drive on 3rd and 4, half back Ronald Jones on a draw play took the ball 86 yards to take the lead back for the Trojans.  That deflated the air out of the building, then on the very next play from scrimmage, Falk’s pass was intercepted by Uchenna Nwosu on the WSU three yard line.  The Cougar defense held the Trojans on 3 consecutive plays and allowed only a field goal on a situation that could have really put the Cougs in a hole. 

Before the Half, Falk drove the ball 94 yards in just under 5 minutes and gave the ball to Jamal Morrow up the middle to tie the game at 17 going into the locker room.  “When you score right before half for some reason, it always seems to change the momentum a little,” Mike leach said.  The two teams battled throughout the second half, the Cougs seemingly leaving points on the field and having to settle for field goals.  In the 4th, with WSU threatening, Falk shoveled a pass to Jamal Morrow who ran for a 23 yard touchdown to give the Cougs a 27-20 lead.  That gave Darnold time to do what he did 2 weeks prior against Texas.  The Cougs had forced a 4th and 13 from the WSU 42 yard line.  Frankie Luvu crushed Darnold but the ball was somehow able to escape and fall into the hands of Tyler Vaugns for the first down.  A few plays later Darnold ran it in on an option from 2 yards out to tie the game. 

Falk was given just over five minutes to get the win.  On 3rd and 4 from the WSU 42, Jamal Morrow ran 35 yards to the Trojan 23 yard line.  WSU then ran the ball 3 times to get rid of USC’s timeouts and added an Erik Powell 32 yard field goal.  That gave Sam Darnold 1:40 and no timeouts to tie or win the game.  Jahad Woods hit Darnold from behind, the ball came loose and Derek Moore recovered it to secure the win for WSU and their first 5-0 start since 2001.  “It was a really good environment, it was fantastic, loud the whole game, exciting matchup,” Leach said following the game.  Falk got sacked 5 times and was rushed quite a bit.  Afterwards Falk said, “I feel great, it was a really good team win.  We did a good job of stringing together that last drive.”

 

The Cougs go on the road to face the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on Saturday at 5pm.  Their starting quarterback Justin Herbert is out with a broken collar bone, and running back Royce Freeman is questionable.

Cougs Roll Over Wolfpack

 

In a warm up game of sorts before the fourth ranked USC Trojans come to town, Luke Falk threw for 478 yards on 36 of 47 passing and 5 touchdowns as the Cougs dominate the lowly Nevada Wolf pack 45-7.

 

The Nevada Wolfpack came into Saturday’s game losing their previous 3 contests including last week to FCS team Idaho State.  They have had a quarterback carousel and started their third string quarterback against the Cougs.  David Cornwell is a graduate transfer from Alabama and was supposed to right the ship for the Nevada Wolfpack but a bad fall camp put him third in the depth chart.  His first action was Saturday and he went 13 of 25 with 97 yards and 3 interceptions as the Cougar defense dominated their front all day.

 

After turning the ball over on downs in their first drive, Luke Falk connected with Jamal Morrow for a 12 yard touchdown pass and the Cougs led 7-0 early.  Next drive, Falk found James Williams who broke some tackles on his way to 6 points.

 

The Cougar defense shut down all aspects of the Wolfpack offense.  Nevada had only 75 yards of total offense in the first half with only 41 yards of passing.  The second quarter was more of the same for the Cougs, with Falk passing for 2 more touchdowns.  Falk hit Tavares Martin Jr. for a 40 yard touchdown pass early in the 2nd Wuarter.    Then connect with Jamire Calvin from 6 yards out to give the Cougs a 35-0 lead at halftime.  The Cougs added 10 more points in the 2nd half and allowed a touchdown late, but by that time the Cougs were rotating in guys quite a bit. 

 

The Cougs played an overall good game having 2 receivers with over 100 yards in Martin Jr. and Renard Bell and also added 131 yards on the ground.  This was a good tune up for Friday night where we will see the 4th rank USC Trojans come to Pullman.  WAZZU hasn’t played their best game yet, but have put together some pieces from their first 2 games that should help them.  The Trojans are a different animal, and if the Cougs start out slow like they did against Boise State, it could be a long night.

 

Cougs Cruise Past Beavers

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One game after being benched, Luke Falk tosses 6 touchdown passes on 37 of 49 passing for 396 yards as the WSU steam rolls Oregon State in their Pac-12 opener 52-23.

Luke Falk made his first start against Oregon State in 2014 and after Saturday’s win, made it 4 in a row against the Beavers.    

“I thought he played well, I though he got in a good rhythm, he looked very sharp most of the game,” Leach said regarding Luke Falk.

The Cougs started slow the first drive going 3 and out and it started to look like more of the same.  But as Falk has done the past 3 years under Leach’s system, takes a few games to get warmed up and then catches fire.  He did that in a big way on Saturday and appeared to have found two replacements for the graduated Gabe Marks.

Falk started off his touchdown spree by connecting with Tavares Martin Jr. and Isaiah Johnson-Mack to give the Cougs the early 14-2 lead.  He followed that up with 2 more touchdowns to each of them to give the Cougs a 28-9 advantage at halftime.

Ryan Nall, who has been a horn in the heel of the Cougs finished with 118 yards on 15 carries including a 45 yard td run to begin the 2nd half to pull the beavers within 12 at 28-16.  That was when both offense and defense stepped it to another level. 

On 3rd down and 22 from their own 43 yard line, Falk evaded to two tacklers and completed a pass across the middle to Martin Jr. that went for a 57 yard touchdown and WSU’s biggest pass play of the season.  Luke followed that up with a 10 yard touchdown pass to Kyle Sweet for his 6th touchdown pass on the day.  The next possession, the swarming Cougar defense on a corner blitz forced OSU quarterback Jake Luton to fumble and Frankie Luvu returned it 40 yards to put the Cougs up 49-16 in the 4th.

A scary moment in the 4th, Jake Luton was hit hard on a quarterback keeper and was taken off in a stretcher after 10 minutes of stoppage time.  Luton was released from a Spokane hospital within hours, so a good sign, but it hasn’t been released whether he will play next week or not. 

Tavares Martin Jr. ended the game with 10 catches for 194 yards with 3 touchdowns.  The Cougs were looking for a replacement for Gabe Marks, and they have found it in both Isaiah Johnson-Mack and Tavares Martin Jr. The 194 yards by Martin Jr. is more than Marks got in any one game, and this offense is just getting started.  Falk has so many offensive weapons that it’s scary to think how much damage they can do when this offense really gets in its groove.  “He’s dynamic, he can do a lot of things, he’s got good hands and can make people miss,” Falk said about Tavares Martine Jr.

Falk said about the performance, “We had some real explosive plays by our outside guys.  I still don’t think we’re quite to our ceiling yet,  I think we have a lot of things to improve on, but it was good to put that many points up.”

“We’ve been waiting for the outside receivers to get in a rhythm, I thought they did today, we got to build on it and continue it,” Leach said.

The Cougs running game who went wild against Montana State, only had 16 carries for 60 yards.   “I didn’t give a lot of thought to that, we kinda identify what the defense gives us and attack,”  said leach.

WAZZU takes on a lowly Nevada Wolfpack teach next week before facing the number 4 ranked USC Trojans on Friday night the week after.

https://youtu.be/DrTkrau-85w

 

Cougars Win Instant Classic in OT!

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Boise State silenced the crowd  in Martin Stadium after an interception return for a touchdown put the Broncos up 21 points in the 4th quarter.  The Cougs went on to put up 21 unanswered points with their back up quarterback Tyler Hilinski, before the end of the quarter and shock the Broncos in triple overtime 47-44.

WSU was looking to avenge a loss from last season against Boise State, and got off to a slow start.  Former Cougar legend Mark Rypien’s nephew Brett, used 6 plays to start out the game and go up 7-0 early.  The following drive, Luke Falk drove the Cougs right down the field, but on 3rd and goal, Falk was intercepted by Boise State’s Tyler Horton.  The Cougs redeemed themselves the next Boise State possession. Herc Mata’afa hit Rypien from behind and forced a fumble that Robert Taylor ran in to tie the game at 7.  The remainder of the first half was a defensive battle, the offenses couldn’t get much going and both teams went to the locker room tied up at 10.  Wazzu had only 148 yards of total offene and 116 through the air in the first half.  On how the receivers played in the first half, coach Mike Leach said,  “I thought they played timid.  They’ve got to go out there and play like they deserve to be there.”

The third quarter showed more struggles for the Cougar offense.  After Falk got hit hard a few times, back up sophomore Tyler Hilinski took over for good in the fourth quarter. “We were being cautious with Luke,”  Coach Leach said forllowing the game.  Falk took his final snap of the game late in the fourth when he was hit hard by Jabril Frazier and forced a fumble that was returned 55 yards for a toucdown by Curtis Weaver and the Broncos held a comportable 31 to 10 lead with only 10:53 to go in the game. 

Hilinski entered the game and made quick work on a 8 play, 75 yard drive lasting only 3 minutes and pulled the Cougs within two touchdowns.  The Cougs were in need of another huge defensive play, and they got it.  Bronco quarterback Montell Cozart was pressured and tried to shovel a pass and did so right to Wazzu’s Peyton Pelluer who took it back 18 yards to the end zone, and the Cougs were now within 7  with 5:44 to play.  Washington State stopped the Broncos on the next possession and the Cougs had just under 4 minutes to tie the game.  The Cougs were stopped and forced to put with 3 minutes to play.  On the Erik Powell punt, the ball landed on the back of a Bronco player and WAZZU recovered at the Boise State 24 yard line.  4 plays later, Hilinski connected with Jamal Morrow for 6 yards and the Cougs tied it up at 31 1:07 to play.  Neither team was able to score, so the game went to overtime in Pullman for the first time since the 2012 Apple Cup.

In the first over time, both teams came up with field goals.  Tavares Martin Jr. caught a 9 yard touchdown pass to put the Cougs up 7 in the 2nd overtime.  On Boise State’s possession, Cozart found Cedrick Wilson for 5 yards, and the score was tied again.  In the third overtime after the Broncos were held to a field goal, Hilinsky found Jamal Morrow in the flat on a screen pass from 22 yards out, who leaped over the pile on to give the Cougs one of their greatest victories in Martin Stadium history.

After this improbable win, the Cougs look to go 3-0 Saturday as they play the lowly Beavers who have looked terrible so far this season.  Washington State will have 2 more games to warm up for the mighty Trojans of USC.

 

 

Cougs Scratch Up Bobcats

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After 2 years of home opening losses to Big Sky teams, the Cougs put together a dominating performance on both sides of the ball and dominate Montana State 31-0 to start the season 1-0 for the first time since 2011. 

Senior quarterback Luke Falk threw for 311 yards on 33 of 39 passing, including starting the game with 20 completions in a row as the Cougs dominate the Montana State Fighting Bobcats 31-0.

There was sense of calm in this team throughout the game.  WSU has struggled with running quarterbacks made it a point early on not to give up the big play and to stay grounded defensively by defending for the long pass as well as the option.  Bobcats quarterback Chris Murray was running for his life most of the game.  The Cougs held Murray to 5 of 12 passing for 28 yards, most of which were in the second half when the game was all but over for the Bobcats.  Murray added 55 yards on the ground, but collectively, the Cougs held the Bobcats to 143 yards of total offense.

Coach Mike leach said following the game, “We had a steadiness and consistency that I thought was positive for a first game.”  The Cougs opening drive took over six minutes and saw nothing deep, just consistent 5 to 10 yard completions ending in a shovel pass to James Williams who took it in for the score.

The following drive was more of the same mixed in with more running plays.  On third and goal from the Bobcat 6, Falk connected with Tavares Martin Jr. over the middle and gave the Cougs a 14-0 lead.  Just before the half, Isaiah Johnson-Mack fumbled Falk’s screen pass at the WSU 43 yard line.  A missed 42 yard field goal by the Bobcat’s Luke Daly kept Montana State off the board.

The Cougs went up 21-0 early in the 3rd on a Jamal Morrow 29 yard run.  Their fourth touchdown came early in the fourth on another shovel pass from Falk to Williams who scampered 29 yards for the touchdown.

The Cougs used short passes combined with the running game for much of the night.  They used up a lot of clock and didn’t feel like they really tapped into their offense.  It was a balance attack with 150 yards on the ground and 351 yards through the air.  Wazzu welcomes in Boise State next week and it feels like we will see more of their arsenal against the Broncos.  This was a great warm up game for the Cougs who had 2 heartbreak openers to start the season the past 2 years.  Kickoff will be at 7:30 on ESPN.

 

WSU 2017 Preveiw

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The Washington State Cougars look to improve on the last couple of seasons and take another step closer to the PAC-12 title.  The Cougs finished 9-4 in 2015 and 8-5 in 2016. In 2016 they got off to a slow start losing their opening 2 games to Eastern Washington and Boise State, but they ran off an 8 game winning streak following that before losing their last 3 games of the season including a Holiday Bowl loss to Minnesota.  This season hopes to be different for WAZZU and they have a favorable schedule to start the season.

WSU’s leading receiver Gabe Marks and River Cracraft moved on, but there are plenty of new guys looking to take that role.  One of the big shockers on signing day was California 4-star wide receiver Jamire Calvin signing with WSU after committing to Nebraska.  Isaiah Johnson Mack is 6’3 target who is now wearing number 9 like Gabe Marks, and has looked good so far in fall camp.  Redshirt Freshman Renard Bell stands 5’8, but has shown great speed and illusiveness during the scrimmages.  6’5 receiver CJ Dimry is also a big target for quarterback Luke Falk.  CJ was a senior last season but because of a medical redshirt, he is able to play one more season and look to see him used more this time around.  Kyle Sweet will step into River’s role more this season, as the junior has continued to get more targets.  The three headed monster of James Williams, Gerard Wicks, and Jamal Morrow who helped WSU to their most rushing yards in the Leach regime will be back for one last hoorah.  The Cougs only 1st team pre-season all-American for 2016 and 2017, Cody O’Connell will be back on the offensive line to protect Luke Falk. Defensively, the Cougar secondary has gotten quicker which was a huge problem the last few games of the season.

Sept. 2nd – Montana State- W 52-17, 1-0

Although the Cougs have opened up the past 2 seasons with losses to consecutive Big Sky teams, this one should smooth sailing.  The Bobcats finished 4-7, but have a returning sophomore quarterback in Chris Murray.  That won’t be enough as the Cougs will cruise in their home opener.

Sept. 9th- Boise State- W 45-35, 2-0

The Broncos are always tough and this is a rematch of last year’s game where the Cougs had a chance to win with a minute to go but couldn’t cash in.  Brett Rypien out of Spokane is dangerous, but being a home game at Martin Stadium, the Cougs offense will be too much and will hold on and start the season 2-0.

Sept. 16th- Oregon State- W 59-21, 3-0

The Beavers coming off 2 disappointing seasons have former Idaho quarterback and JC transfer Jake Luton that stands 6’7 and returning running back Ryan Nall who was one of the leagues leaders in yards per carry at over 6 yards.  The Beaver defense is still suspect and the Cougs have way too much talent.

Sept. 23rd- Nevada- W 62-17, 4-0

The Wolfpack finished last season 5-7 and have questions in the quarterback and running back positions as well as a new coaching staff.  This will be a good warm up game for the Cougs before the face one of the nation’s top teams.  Cougs cruise in this one and should have all their ducks in a row for their matchup the following week.

Sept. 29th- USC – L 41-30, 4-1

The Trojans, who won their final 9 games of the season after starting 1 and 2, looked to be one of the most dominant teams in the country by season’s end.   USC’s top recruiting class each year brings them with their 1st team pre-season All American quarterback Sam Darnold who is going to give the Cougs defense fits.  Good offensive teams like Washington and Colorado, had their way with the Cougar defense last year.   This is an improved Cougar defense but USC has one of the best defensive fronts which will play havoc on the Cougar line.  USC starts off the season by playing Stanford and Texas in their first 4 games, so they will be ready for what the Cougs will bring.

October 7th- at Oregon- W- 45-31, 5-1

The Ducks are coming off an extremely disappointing season going just 4 and 8.  Oregon will be returning 4 year starter Royce Freeman at Running back who had some big runs against the Cougs last year.  They also have a new coaching regime and running a different offense then we are used to seeing at Oregon.  It’s always tough playing a game at Autzen Stadium, but the Cougs will pull away late to beat the Ducks.

October 13th- at California- W 52-35, 6-1

The Golden Bears are coming off an average season but lost their quarterback and it is a toss between three who is actually going to start.  Tre Watson and Vic Enwere will anchor the back field, but another new coach and Cal will not be able to hang with the Cougs potent offense and WAZZU becomes bowl eligible.

October 21st- Colorado- W 48-31, 7-1

The Buffaloes won the Pac-12 South last year, but lost their 4 year starter at quarter back as well as 9 starters on a top 20 defense last season.  They are going to be decent, but not as good as last year, and playing on the road will just be too much for Colorado.

October 28th- at Arizona- W 45-20, 8-1

The Wildcats won only 3 games last year including a 69-7 loss last year to the Cougs.  Arizona was the conference’s best rushing team last year, and J.J. Taylor is the guy, but they don’t have much of a passing game.  It is going to be a struggle for them this year as well.

November 4th- Stanford- W 35-31, 9-1

The Cardinal start the season ranked 14th in the nation and are always tough under David Shaw.  Stanford is returning 8 starters on both sides of the ball, and finished last season off very strong.  Stanford did lose their Heisman candidate Christian Mccaffrey to the NFL, but his replacement Bryce Love appears to be a good fill in behind the strong offensive front.  Look for this to be a battle similar to the 2015 game, but if the Cougs can control the game defensively, they should be able to pull it off.

 

November 11th- at Utah- W 30-27, 10-1

The Utes have had 9 wins the past 3 seasons and return starter Troy Williams. Utah has been good defensively but not much offense. The Cougs will pull this one out late in a low scoring affair for Cougar standards.

November 25th- at Washington- L 45-38 10-2

The Huskies made it to the college football playoff a year ago, but lost quite a bit on the defensive side and their top receiver John Ross to the NFL.  The Cougs have only won the apple cup once under Mike Leach, and playing at Husky Stadium is always a struggle.  The last two years have been lopsided victories for Washington.  The Cougs will close the gap, but still will struggle giving up points.

The Cougs finish 10-2 and lose the Pac-12 North to the Huskies who have an easier schedule by avoiding USC this season.  There are a few games that could go either way and boost the Cougs momentum.  The USC game is possible for the Cougs, but will be a tough one.  If they can pull that off, they may win the Pac 12 North.

 

 

 

 

 

Buffs Trip Cougs, Apple Cup Looms

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The Colorado Buffaloes used a quarterback/running back combination to rush for 250 yards and power through the Cougs in Boulder 38-24.  In the first ranked matchup the Cougs have had since early October, they were looking to make a statement and come away from the high altitude with their biggest win of the season over the tenth rank buffaloes.

On the first drive of the game for the Buffaloes, quarterback Sefo Liufau drove the Buffs down the field in 10 plays giving the ball to the back Philli Lindsay in the last 3 plays to gather up 34 yards as Colorado took the early 7-0 lead.  The Cougs answered back the following drive when Falk found Robert Lewis from 15 yards out to tie the game at 7.  The next drive for WSU, Falk threw a nice ball over the shoulder of Jamal Morrow and he took it in for the 46 yard touchdown completion to put the Cougs up seven at the end of the 1st.

Just when the Cougs looked like they had found their stride, the Buff defense tightened up. Colorado tied up the game early in the second on a quarterback keeper from Sefo Liufau.  The Cougs took a 17-14 lead into the locker room.  The Cougs seemed to be just be a little off this game.  Luke Falk finished under fifty percent passing for the first time in his college career, and they just didn’t seem to have control of the game like they did for most of the year.  The Pac-12 all time leader in catches, Gabe marks dropped an easy touchdown in the first half, and also misread a fade pass for another touchdown which could have had something to do with the thin air.  “I didn’t think we consistently did our job on offense, defense, either one,” Coach Mike Leach said following the game. “There were some key downs that they rose to better than we did.”

In the second half, the Buffaloes took control and put together long drives, and controlled most of it on the ground.  They took the lead on their first drive of the second half when Liufau rushed the ball for 16 yards and 7 yards respectively to put the Buffaloes up 21-17.  The Buffaloes cruised from there, with no punts in the 2nd half and the thin air of Colorado appeared to tire both the offense and defense of WSU out.   Midway through the 4th Philli Lindsay had a 13 yard rush that put the Buffaloes up 38-24 and put the game out of reach for the Cougs.  “I think we definitely missed some opportunities early on,” Luke Falk said after the game.  “We gotta look at the film tomorrow, and move on.” 

In the grand scheme of things, the loss doesn’t hurt the Cougs, because they have the chance to win the Pac-12 north and play for the Pac-12 championship with a win against the Huskies on Friday in the Apple Cup.  It seemed to me that the Cougs may have been looking ahead to the Apple Cup and if they play the Buffs in the Pac-12 championship in Palo Alto, the game will go better for the Cougs.

 

Cougs Roll Cal, Ascend to 1st in Pac-North

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Senior River Cracraft pulled in 9 catches for 87 yards and 3 touchdowns and Gabe Marks hauled in 2 of his own including a record breaking catch to dominate the Cal Golden Bears 56-21.  After losing their first 2, the Cougs have rolled off 8 straight wins and after the Huskies loss at home against USC, are in sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 North. 

Another late night game for the Cougs, and they got it started early.  Kaleb Fossum returned the first punt of the game 75 yards to give Wazzu the early 7-0 lead.   This was the first punt return for WSU since the 2005 season. “It was an awesome moment, I’ll remember it for the rest of my life,” said Fossum.  “I kind of blacked out, almost forgot to hold for the PAT.” 

In the second quarter, Cracraft started to take off.  After an 8 yard touchdown pass from Davis Webb to Jordan Veasy for Cal, Falk threw a 22 yard touchdown pass to put the Cougs up 21-7.  A  Couple of drives later, Cracraft caught another touchdown, this time from 5 yards out to give the Cougs a 28-7 halftime lead over the Bears.

Cracraft continued to do work in the third catching an end zone fade from 9 yards away to give him his third touchdown pass of the game.  The next offensive possession, River tore his ACL on a 3rd and 5 which has ended his career as a Coug.  Leach did not comment on this after the game, so we will hear more from Coach about river during Monday afternoon’s press conference.

When Cracraft went out, Gabe Marks took the spotlight.  Late in the third, Marks caught a 16 yard fade route in the corner of the end zone to break the Pac-12 record for catches in a career.  Marks said following the game, that he kept the ball despite the referees’ efforts to get it back.  Luke Falk finished the game with 373 yards on 36 of 50 passing and 5 touchdowns.

The Cougs go on the road, in their toughest game of the season to face the number 12 Colorado Buffaloes who are early 4.5 point favorites.  The Cougs are going to need to be careful not to take this team lightly and have a let down game before going into the biggest Apple Cup in history.

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