FROM SEATTLE -- The WSU Cougars came into tonight's game hoping to prove they were ready to play with the big boys, but so far, they've proved no match for the No. 5 Stanford Cardinal, who lead 17-3.
The run defense has held up very well, as expected, allowing just 89 yards on 21 attempts on the ground. But facing a competent quarterback for the first time, the Cougs have gotten burned regularly.
Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan missed his first throw -- a pass on which Ty Montgomery had his man badly beaten deep -- but he hasn't missed many since, connecting on 57- and 33-yard touchdown passes to tight end Devon Cajuste. He's 12-of-17 for 222 yards which works out to a superb 13.1 yards per attempt.
The score would have been worse if not for the one big mistake Hogan made in the first half. In the midst of a 16-play drive that had eaten up around eight minutes of game clock, Hogan looked for Cajuste again. The big tight end had beaten Damante Horton badly and appeared to be wide open in the end zone, but Hogan -- thinking he had lots of time to get the ball there -- put a ton of air on the throw, allowing Deone Bucannon to run under it for his third interception of the season. He also has eight tackles.
Offensively, the Cougars have been content to dink and dunk the ball underneath, save for one big play: A 43-yard toss to Kristoff Williams a few plays after the interception that got WSU past midfield to the Stanford 38. Halliday had another shot at a big play -- likely a touchdown -- when Stanford blew a coverage. But he saw John Thompson -- who was standing all by himself to Halliday's left -- too late after he'd already been flushed from the pocket and couldn't quite get the ball there, throwing across his body.
The drive ended with a missed field goal by Andrew Furney.
Halliday has been pretty good, showing excellent command of the offense and (or the most part) displaying accuracy. He's 18-of-27 for 153 yards -- with zero interceptions -- but the subpar 5.7 yards per attempt is exactly what Stanford hopes to do to opposing quarterbacks. There are plays to be made downfield if he can hit them.
The weather hasn't been too much of a factor, as the rain stopped shortly before kickoff, and the wind down on the field is fairly mild. Clearly, neither quarterback has had too much difficulty throwing the ball.
Stanford has outgained WSU 311 yards to 165.
WSU gets the ball to open the second half. A touchdown there would make this interesting once again.