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Cougars hang on to defeat Arizona 45-42, Stanford next

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It got a little, make that a lot, stressful at the end, but the Cougs came through and won their third straight.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Good morning, Cougar fans. As this post is written, ESPN still has not announced whether College GameDay will originate from Pullman next weekend, before WSU takes on Stanford with first place in the Pac-12 North (yes, not technically, but work with me here) on the line. Think about that for a minute. Who on earth would have believed, on September 6th, that the second sentence of this paragraph could ever be written? And yet, here are the Cougars less than two months later, coming off their third straight win and facing the biggest game this program has seen in years.

How did the Cougars get to that third straight win? Well, they certainly didn't make it easy, but they made every play they absolutely had to make. There were times when they could have thrown their hands up, such as when Arizona surged to tie the game at 14, or when Arizona all but erased a 38-21 fourth quarter WSU lead. Then there was the special teams, needing to come through with an onside kick recovery late in the game. Despite a nearly perfect onside kick, Dom Williams came down with the ball.

The Cougs then closed the game out by...running the ball? You read that correctly. WSU needed a first down to to end the game, as Arizona had preserved all three timesout. WSU ran the ball three times. WSU got its first down. WSU won the game. In the past, heck, even this season, this has often been a game WSU lost. There have been so many instances when the team played well enough to win but, due to many self-induced errors, came up short. Heck, this game shouldn't even have been very close.

But close it was, even with the Cougars having their way with Arizona's depleted defense. Falk completed over 75 percent of this throws and the running backs combined for 128 yards, averaging a robust 6.4 yards per carry. The defense established itself early, coming up with a couple big stops and getting the ball back to the offense. The defense seemed to regress as the game wore on, but did come up with a momentous fourth down stop when Arizona was inside the 10 yard line late in the third quarter. All in all, it was a great team effort, and another huge win.

Likes:

  • Another opening drive touchdown - This is a welcome departure from last season, when it seemed like it took the offense a few drives to figure things out.
  • Peyton Pelluer absolutely stoning Jared Baker less than a yard from the endzone.
  • The pressure the front four generated early - They were all over Anu Solomon, and probably hastened the change to Jerrard Randall.
  • Gabe Marks' hands. Gabe Marks' feet. Gabe Marks' everything.
  • The downfield blocking on the second touchdown - Marks had himself a convoy.
  • Special teams forcing a fumble and giving the offense a short field.
  • Nick Wilson entered the game with 115 rushes for 683 yards (six yards per carry). Nick Wilson exited the game with 121 rushes for 691 yards.
  • Jeff Casteel's defensive alignment on Luke Falk's sneak in the fourth quarter - I mean, thanks for handing the offense a first down, Jeff.
  • Red zone efficiency - So much better than it has been in the past.
  • Kyle Sweet - So Tavares Martin was out despite being happy and healthy? Not to worry. They'll just insert another true freshman who catches a critical 28 yard pass on 3rd and 19, setting up another touchdown.
  • The part about Glenn Parker calling each game in the three game winning streak.

Dislikes:

  • Everything else about Glenn Parker's analysis
  • Another special teams gaffe - I mean, Arizona had maybe two guys blocking on the punt return, and the guy still scored. It would probably just be easier if WSU started every game down 7-0, in exchange for the opponent calling for a fair catch on every punt, and downing every kick.
  • The officials -There aren't enough words in this space or hours in the day.
  • Taylor Taliulu's ball skills - He diagnosed that reverse pass perfectly, then just stood there and watched Griffey catch the pass.
  • Defending Jerrard Randall's passing - Yes, Randall is a very good runner, but he came into the game completing 48 percent of his passes. He was 11-16 for 138 and two TDs Saturday, and led Arizona to a lightning-fast score after WSU had seemingly put the game away.

All in all, it's yet another great day to be a Coug. Hey coach Belichick, close it out for us. "We're on to Stanford."

Football

Luke Falk-guided Cougars hold off Arizona for fifth victory - Spokesman.com - Oct. 24, 2015
Once again the Cougars built an early lead. And again they muddled around for most of the second half, placed their fate in quarterback Luke Falk’s hands and were rewarded, this time with a 45-42 victory on Saturday at Arizona that leaves them one win shy of bowl eligibility.

WSU notebook: Cougars show strong traits for bowl representatives - Spokesman.com - Oct. 24, 2015
The Cougars are tied with Utah for the second-best record in the conference, hold a tiebreaker win over Oregon and still play many of the teams near them in the standings. It’s conceivable that WSU could be in position at the end of the season for the Alamo or Holiday bowls’ consideration.

What we learned from WSU Cougars’ 45-42 win over Arizona | The Seattle Times
Ten different receivers caught passes, and Kyrin Priester is developing nicely. He had his first career touchdown against the Wildcats, and looks to be a fine replacement for Dom Williams next season.

Falk, Cougars’ air attack shatter Wildcat defense : Arizona football
It was death by a thousand razor burns, as Cougars quarterback Luke Falk displayed the precision of a diamond-cutter. It helped that the Wildcats’ defensive interior showed more cracks than a broken vase.

FB: Highlights vs. UA - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
Victory highlights!

Hansen: Dreary day may get Wildcats dreaming of Hawaii
"Arizona will not win another football game until Sept. 17, 2016. Mark it down. That’ll be the day Hawaii visits Tucson." Well at least you're not overreacting, Greg.

Arizona football: Report card for 45-42 loss to Washington State
Wazzu quarterback Luke Falk wasn't pressured much and feasted on Arizona's young secondary.

Pac-12 Week 8 helmet stickers: A record-setting week
Gabe Marks, WR, Washington State: Marks was the recipient of four of Luke Falk's five touchdown passes in the Cougars 45-42 win over Arizona.

Luke Falk powers Washington State Cougars over Arizona Wildcats
Mike Leach and Rich Rodriguez teams come together, points are expected. And neither the Washington State Cougars nor the Arizona Wildcats disappointed as the Cougars pulled away in the closing minutes to wrap up a 45-42 win over host Arizona.

Beer

Does It Matter Who Owns Your Favorite Brewery?
Monopolies, or at least serious market concentrations, hurt consumers. And it’s even worse when the companies involved are deeply committed to making cruddy beer.

Non-Sports

There’s Just One Problem with Those Bin Laden Conspiracy Theories | Vanity Fair
Here's a response to the story linked last week regarding this subject.