WSU entered tonight's game as a heavy underdog, but a trio of fumbles by the No. 2 Oregon Ducks -- including one that was returned for a touchdown -- have the Cougars within striking distance at halftime, 34-24.
The Ducks have had their way on offense when they've been able to hold onto the ball, racking up an astounding 483 yards in the first two quarters. But once the initial burst passed in the first quarter, the Cougar defense started to stand up a little bit. A sack of Marcus Mariota forced a punt, then Mariota started getting loose with the ball in the pocket as the Cougars recovered a pair of strip sacks.
One of those resulted in this touchdown by Xavier Cooper:
Meanwhile, the Cougar offense got off to a rocky start, but Connor Halliday has found his stride, which he hopefully will continue as long as his arm doesn't fall off -- he's 27-of-43 for 319 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. That's good for an excellent 7.4 yards per attempt, a testament both to Halliday finding his receivers down the field and also guys running after the catch - Gabe Marks had a long gain on a shallow cross, while Isiah Myers had a long gain on an inside screen.
The Cougars finished off the scoring in the first half when Andrew Furney hit a 49-yard field goal as the clock expired.
Whether the Cougars can truly make a game of it in the second half will largely depend on the defense. It's unlikely that Oregon, which is on pace for nearly 1,000 yards(!!!) of offense, will continue to turn the ball over -- they had three turnovers this year coming into the game.