November 10th, 2007. That was the last time the Cougars beat a Pac-Ten team not named Washington. A 33-17 victory over a 3-6 Stanford team in front of 31,000 fans at Martin Stadium.
It's been 1,099 days since then.
Yes, it's been a long time since the Cougars could hold their heads high after a conference game against anyone other than their hated rivals.
Since that game, the Cougs have beaten the Huskies twice. I'm overlooking those games a bit, only because UW was probably the only division I team in the nation worse than us. It's been 3 years since we beat anybody in the conference that was better than us.
We've seen a season in which the Cougars broke the record for most points given up in conference history. We've seen them go 1-24 in conference play over three seasons. We saw blowout, after blowout, after blowout.
After the first season under Wulff, we said "rebuilding"
After the second season, we said "one more year"
After starting the third season, we said "oh no"
In that time, I have forgotten what its like to go into a game and expect to win. No matter who we were playing, I never expected to win. That's when you know you've gone from "bad team" to "bad program" You never want to be on the side of "bad program" because you know it means you've got a long ways to go until you get to "decent program" and even further for "good program"
The Cougs are a bad team. But I no longer have to worry about them as a bad program. I've seen the players grow as Paul Wulff said they would. As the season went along, despite still being one of the worst teams in the country, we saw what they could do with a full team. What they could do with a real number of good recruits on the field. And all along the recruits have been getting better and have made the future brighter.
Now the team has gotten the final monkey off of their back. No, they aren't all the way there yet, but we've finally knocked off one of the other 8 teams in the conference. Finally.
The Beavers aren't the best team in the conference. But they're good. They kept it close with two of the top four teams in the nation. They beat Arizona. They lost their two conference games by a total of four points. They've got a player in Rogers that should have ran all over us. They should have been able to score in bunches.
But they didn't.
They beat Arizona, Arizona State, and Cal - but they couldn't beat us. Not today.
They lost to TCU by 9 and Boise State by 13. They lost to us by 17. Their most lopsided loss of the season. I don't mean to rub it in and be malicious, but I haven't felt like this in years. No win that could come against Washington, or no win that could come next year will be quite like this win.
The casual fan looking over the box scores will see that an unranked WSU team beat an unranked OSU team and probably gloss over it. At most maybe a "huh" for those fans that know we don't usually win games. But for us, we know the amount of weight that has come off of our shoulders today. Only a Cougs fan could know what that feels like. We can breathe again.
We don't have to think about getting this win anymore when we enter conference play next year when expectations will be raised for the team. When Jeff Tuel plays his first pac-twelve* game next year, he won't be thinking about finally getting his first win in conference. He'll just think "win"
This was a tough week for a lot of us locals and I can only imagine that Dave was looking down on us today and wanted to give us a lift. Thanks Dave, we needed that. I can't stop smiling.
Now lets hope for Jake Locker to get healthy so he can finish his career 1-3 against the Cougs.