How WSU Beat Oregon State (In Visual Form)

One of the things we've been marveling at here at the site has been just how WSU won this game over Oregon State. It was stunning enough that they won; that they did it by rushing the ball, stopping the run and more or less dominating the line of scrimmage -- leading to a tremendous advantage in time of possession -- sort of blew my mind, frankly.

If you thought it was impressive while watching it, check it out represented this way:

FULL SCREEN VERSION

Animated Drive Chart brought to you by Gameday Depot.

Look at all those long red lines. Pretty insane, especially when you compare it to previous games.*

*If you want to see just how insane, make sure you follow the jump when you get to the end, as I've also embedded the drive charts from the previous four games. Watch those and compare. Oh, and a major hat tip to Joel at SB Nation's Rocky Top Talk for the animated drive charts!

One of the more interesting conversations to flow out of this game -- at least, interesting to me, and since I'm one of the authors here, I get to decide which "interesting" things we talk about -- was just how "dominant" (readers' words, not mine, which is important) WSU was, especially offensively as indicated by that ridiculous advantage in time of possession.

I actually had a pretty opposite interpretation of our statistical dominance in the immediate wake of the victory. In chatting with Brian, I called it ...

A fluke.

Yup, you read that right.

Now, I'm probably using a different definition of "fluke" than many of you, so let me clarify. When I'm assessing whether something is a "fluke," I'm simply asking this: Is it repeatable? Can we expect a reasonable facsimile of this sort of performance going forward? Can we count on winning games this way in the future?

I think the answer to that one is pretty clear. We're not likely going to win the Apple Cup (or any game next year) by rushing the ball 61 times. Jeff Tuel, for all his amazingness, is unlikely to continue to be able to scramble that way; in the continued face of pressure from defensive linemen with pretty poor pass protection in front of him, most of those are generally going to be sacks. And those were the two driving forces behind the offensive "dominance."

EDIT: Upon re-reading this, I fear that I'm not giving the offensive line enough credit, so I'll say this -- they were VERY good at times in the run game. Physical, tough, and they got to the second and even third level at times. For that, they deserve a lot of credit.

So, in that respect, I certainly was happy for a win, but I wasn't as elated as some of you in the immediate aftermath. (Like, say, someone who got so excited they actually injured themselves celebrating. Not looking at anyone in particular, though ...) This is sort of my curse: I'm not able to turn off my analytical brain. I'm always -- I mean always -- thinking about what things mean, thinking about the big picture. While I was happy to win, I wasn't convinced it really meant as much as we all wanted it to. Which made me feel sort of crappy.

BUT! BUT! BUT! Before you go all crazy on me and call me a Negative Nancy/Nellie or whatever, I've actually thought a bit more about this and flipped 180 degrees.

The more I think about it, the more impressed I am with this win. Is it repeatable? Heck no! But that's what's so amazing!

Many of us assumed there would have to be a certain formula for this team to pull off a win -- something akin to a minor miracle. You know, a game where the other team turns it over six times, we get a handful of big plays and maybe they miss a FG at the end. We really assumed it was going to take some heavy combination of skill and luck for these guys to finally make it happen. And we all assumed Jeff Tuel was going to have to have a heroic day through the air.

None of that happened. And this team still won. 

So, was it a fluke? In my book, yes. But it's an incredibly encouraging fluke. Because if they can win a game like this by this kind of margin without all the stuff we know they can do better? 

Watch out when they finally do put it together. And let's hope it's in two weeks. 

And, as promised, the other drive charts:

FULL SCREEN VERSION

Animated Drive Chart brought to you by Gameday Depot.
FULL SCREEN VERSION

Animated Drive Chart brought to you by Gameday Depot.
FULL SCREEN VERSION

Animated Drive Chart brought to you by Gameday Depot.
FULL SCREEN VERSION

Animated Drive Chart brought to you by Gameday Depot.
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