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Cougars outplay Stanford, but can't close the deal

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It was a night of promise that ended in heartbreak.

William Mancebo/Getty Images

I don't even know where to begin. That was some performance our Cougars put on in front of a damn good crowd Saturday night. WSU outplayed Stanford, and that is despite a first quarter in which the offense clearly looked like it was playing scared. This game was there for the taking several times, but due to a variety of factors, the Cougars walked off the field with their third loss of the season.

That defensive performance was pretty damn incredible. Stanford had been steam-rolling opponents since conference play began, and the WSU front seven stood up to them time after time. Christian McCaffrey is a legitimate Heisman candidate, but if I'd never seen him before Saturday night, I never would have known. That's how well the Cougar defense contained him. But Stanford went into the locker room at halftime and did what great teams do, they adjusted. They used WSU's aggressiveness against it, and Kevin Hogan made them pay, dearly.

The thing that sucks about close losses for me, and I'm sure more than a few of you, is that the next few days or more are spent replaying certain situations in your mind, wondering how the game would have gone if a play here or there had turned out differently. We can all say that the refs monumentally screwed WSU, and we'd be right, but what did you expect? Officiating throughout the country seems to be getting worse (see: the derp-fest at the end of the Duke game), so it's up to WSU to overcome those dopes in stripes. They damn near did it.

I keep going back to WSU's penultimate possession. Dom Williams drops a pass that would have put WSU inside the Stanford 30, and Luke Falk is intercepted on the next play, setting up Stanford's winning field goal. I'll be thinking about those two plays for a while. Next, I'll think about possession after possession that could have been a touchdown but instead ended with a field goal. Convert even one of those and the story of this game is almost certainly written differently.

In the end, it's obvious to everyone that WSU can compete with anybody in the conference. Of course, we all thought the same thing after the Oregon game last season, and we know how that turned out. Even so, this WSU team seems different. This week will tell us alot about Mike Leach and his staff's coaching ability. They have to get the players to flush this game and move on to another tough opponent in Arizona State, because there is nothing worse than letting a team beat you the week after you played them. I think the coaches are up to it, and I think the players are up to it. The best part is that we get to find out next Saturday. Go Cougs

Football

Cougars just miss against No. 8 Stanford - Spokesman.com - Oct. 31, 2015
WSU (5-3, 3-2 Pac-12) would have sat a game behind Stanford (7-1, 6-0) in the conference standings with a win, because of the Cardinal having played one more game against a Pac-12 opponent. But with a win the teams would have had the same number of losses, and right now the Cougars should own the tiebreaker.

John Blanchette: Plenty of reasons to be optimistic in loss - Spokesman.com - Nov. 1, 2015
But in the space of a month, the Cougars have proved they’re up to it, too – something no one saw on Labor Day. They may have been just short on this night, but there’s another month to achieve great things.

Pain of loss to No. 8 Stanford is a sign of progress for WSU, Mike Leach | The Seattle Times
Still, the Cougars could have survived all that had that last kick been just a little straighter. ESPN’s "Game Day" may have chosen Philadelphia over Pullman, but the atmosphere at Martin Stadium was electric, right until the plug was pulled.

Stanford Cardinal 30, Washington State Cougars 28 - Pac-12 Blog - ESPN
Washington State could’ve become bowl eligible Saturday night, upset a top-eight team as an unranked squad for the first time since 1992, and truly put the rest of the conference on notice as a legitimate contender for the Pac-12 title. Instead, the Cougars came close, gave up a late lead, and lost.

Beer

Legally, Bud Light Lime Is a Craft Beer - The Daily Beast
Gonna go ahead and file this under: wut

Non-Sports

How Salad Can Make Us Fat - The New York Times
The mere presence of a healthy menu choice gives us permission to pick something wicked.