The ridiculous stretch of games against top-25 teams is finally over for the Cougars and we all survived it. Against a physical Stanford team, Washington State started slow, but ended with a bang, scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter before falling 38-28.
The first half was filled with mistakes. Logwone Mitz had a costly fumble, James Montgomery put the ball on the turf twice and Jeff Tuel forced a ball into coverage for an interception. The defense, as expected, couldn't stop the power running attack of the Cardinal, getting torched up the middle behind Stanford's unbalanced offensive line.
The only bright spot* came from an eight play, 58 yard scoring drive capped by a Jared Karstetter fade route. With the game in reach, Stanford scored two touchdowns to end the half and leave us all wondering what happened.
*Kevin Kooyman started the drive, making what I hear was a ridiculous interception with Stanford deep in WSU territory.
Jeff Tuel and the offense came alive in the second half and made it a game late, something that was completely unexpected after three quarters of near-total domination. Tuel passed for 198 yards and three scores after the half, hitting Marcus Richmond, Jared Karstetter again and Marquess Wilson -- on a bomb, of course -- for fourth quarter touchdowns.
Wilson was over the 100 yard mark for fifth time this year and Karstetter had a team-high nine grabs for Tuel. The Cougar running backs, on the other hand, were again slow on the ground, gaining only 90 yards on 23 carries. While the total was low, the backs averaged 3.9 yards per carry, a significant improvement over the first seven games of the year. Carl Winston -- the only sure handed tailback today -- led the Cougs with 31 yards on 6 carries. Marcus Richmond was a factor today, catching three balls for 39 yards and a nifty score.
The defense simply couldn't stop the run again this week. When he had to throw, Andrew Luck was efficient, passing for 190 yards and three scores. The Cardinal running backs rushed for 249 yards on the ground, paced by Stepfan Taylor's 142 yards and two scores. Deone Bucannon was again a steady presence, recording a ridiculous 11 tackles in the first half. I don't know what he ended up with, but he was all over the place again. The kid just makes plays.
Another week, another moral victory, but that isn't a bad thing. Washington State not only survived the last three games, but they improved in each of them. John Fullington held his own at left tackle and Jeff Tuel made it out alive. With the tough part behind them, the Cougs move-on to four winnable games to close the season. What happens in those will show us what this team is made of.