When Luke Falk and the Washington State offense got the ball back with a little over a minute left, needing a touchdown to beat No. 19 UCLA, I yelled to my buddies next to me in the crowded bar "LUKE'S GOT THIS." There was no doubt in my mind. We've seen this story before.
And sure enough, a minute later: Falk to Marks from 21 yards out and the game-winning score.
Falk's gutsy performance, in which he was briefly knocked out of the game prior halftime after taking a sack, may have been a ho-hum statistical performance by his standards, but it was the stuff legends are made of. This kid — just a redshirt sophomore, for crying out loud — plays with the calmness of a seasoned vet and still has yet to meet a moment too big. With two years of eligibility left, we're running out of superlatives.
Falk ended up throwing for 38-of-55 for 331 yards two touchdowns, each of which went to Gabe Marks, who finished with 12 catches for 92 yards. The pair each set school records in the win, as Falk passed Connor Halliday for the most touchdown passes (35) in a single season while Marks set the school's all-time receptions record with 204, passing Cougar great Michael Bumpus' 195 receptions mark.
Next up for the Falk and Marks is a date with Colorado in Pullman in what's likely to be a frigid environment inside Martin Stadium. With that in mind, let's continue our look at Falk's record pace with some Marks and Dom Williams bits sprinkled in.
As always, thanks to Kirt Onthank for the graphs. One not from him: He's using linear regression for the projections, rather than simple extrapolation, which reduced the effect of an outlier performance.
Pac-12 single-season touchdown touchdown record: Marcus Mariota - 42
As mentioned above, with two touchdowns in the win over UCLA, Falk now owns the Washington State single-season record for touchdowns with 35, but he's not even close to finished yet. With three games to play, Falk remains on pace to throw for 47 touchdowns in 13 games. According to our model, Falk should tie Marcus Mariota's Pac-12 record of 42 touchdowns somewhere around the third quarter of the Apple Cup.
At his current pace, Falk's 47 touchdowns would tie him for ninth on the all-time NCAA single-season touchdowns list, trailing the likes of Graham Harrell, Sam Bradford, B.J. Symons, Derek Carr and Colt Brennan. The 47 touchdowns would be the third-most for any Mike Leach quarterback, trailing Symons and Harrell, which will become a theme here.
Pac-12 single-season yards record: Sean Mannion - 4,662
Despite throwing for well-under his season average for passing yards in a game (406.7) against UCLA, Falk's bowl-game pace of 5,337 passing yards will shatter Mannion's Pac-12 record. The former Oregon State quarterback, in 13 games in 2013, finished with 4,662 yards, a mark Falk should break by halftime of the Apple Cup, according to our model.
Falk's current pace would wind up being the sixth-most passing yards in a single season, trailing Colt Brennan (5,549), Case Keenum (5,631 and 5,671), Graham Harrell (5,705) and Symons (5,833). It would be the third-most passing yards in a single-season for a Leach quarterback trailing, of course, Harrell and Symons.
NCAA single-season attempts record: B.J. Symons - 719
Falk missed about the equivalent of a drive against UCLA, but still managed to nearly even his season-average for attempts in a game (55.6) with 53 against the Bruins, marking the seventh time this season that Falk has attempted 50-plus passes in a game. Last week Falk was on pace to attempt 727 passes, and that didn't change much, dropping down to 726.
Falk's current pace would break Connor Halliday's school record of 714 while also setting the NCAA record, passing Symons' record of 719 set in 2003. Falk will surely become the sixth Leach quarterback in the NCAA top 10 for attempts in a single season.
NCAA single-season completions record: Graham Harrell - 512
When you throw it a lot, it's not always a given that you're going to complete a lot of passes, but that hasn't been an issue for Falk, who is now on pace to edge Harrell for the most completions in a single season in NCAA history. After completing 38 more passes against UCLA, again nearly dead on with his season average (39.1), Falk is on pace to finish with 515 completions, three more than Harrell's record of 512. Falk should pass Halliday's school and Pac-12 record of 449 completions by halftime of the Apple Cup, according to our model.
Graphical look at Leach quarterbacks' passing yards in a season
Not much has changed on this graph from last week, as Falk's season-long yardage pace dropped just 10 yards from last week. Symons, as mentioned, holds the record with 5,883 yards in a 13-game season, while Harrell's 2007 and 2008 seasons of 5,705 and 5,111 yards, respectively, round out the top three. Falk is still on pace to throw for the third-most yards for any Leach quarterback at 5,337, as detailed previously.
*** As you can see in the graph above, Halliday, prior to his broken leg last season, was on pace to throw for 5,809 yards, which would be the second-most yards thrown by any quarterback ever. He was also on pace to throw for 48 touchdowns and shatter the NCAA record for attempts (789) and completions (538) in a single season. ***
Pac-12 single-season touchdown receptions record: J.J. Stokes and Mario Bailey - 17
After not finding the end zone against Arizona State, Marks made up for it in a big way with two touchdowns against UCLA, including the biggest of his career as he hauled in the game-winner with three seconds left. Marks, now with 13 touchdowns on the season, is still on pace to tie the long-standing Pac-12 record of 17 touchdown catches in a single season set by Washington's Mario Bailey (1991) and UCLA's J.J. Stokes (1993). With his next touchdown catch, Marks will pass Jason Hill for the most touchdown catches by a Cougar in a single season at 14.
With the weapons around him that need to be accounted for, Marks simply cannot be covered and Falk knows it. Marks will face a Colorado secondary this week that's breaking in a true freshman, though the Buffs' top cornerback, Akhello Witherspoon, is expected to be back from a concussion suffered against USC. Marks is scoring this week, regardless.
WSU all-time receiving touchdowns record: Jason Hill - 32
Another new graph this week will look at the Cougars' all-time receiving touchdown record, which senior Dom Williams is quickly approaching. After catching another one of his signature fades on Peyton Bender's first career touchdown toss, Williams now has 28 career touchdown catches, four shy of Jason Hill's all-time record. At his current pace, Williams, who has nine touchdowns on the season, will finish with 31 touchdowns. This one is going to go down to the wire.