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Cougars slay one of their biggest dragons in Tempe

Once again, WSU didn't make it easy. Once again, WSU came away with a win.

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning. Last night was...something. As WSU fans, we are used to seeing our fair share of bizarre performances and endings, but Saturday night was near the top. Nearly every game has an ebb and flow, with some points where you feel like the walls are caving in and others where the team is unbeatable. WSU's game in Tempe seemed to have scores of both.

I don't know about you all, but here's a little timeline of my emotions last night. Apologies in advance for the questionable grammar. I went from "not the best start" to "oh boy" to "here we go again" to "WSU housed a kick return my laptop is clearly malfunctioning" to "it's halftime and I have no idea how the Cougs are winning" to "holy cow WSU might blow them out" to "ASU is somehow in the game running nothing but gimmicks WHY WHY WHY?"

Then it was "Luke Falk may die soon" to "yep, here we go again...again" to "two first downs wins it" and finally to "I don't know what just happened but the Cougars are 4-0 AND I AM TOO TIRED TO TRY AND PROCESS THIS BUT WHATEVER THE COUGS WON IN TEMPE AND JIM MORA AND TODD GRAHAM PROBABLY EAT AT THE SAME TABLE DURING MEDIA DAYS."

Brian Anderson put it well last night when he wrote "survive and advance." For nearly the entire night, it felt like the Cougars just needed to weather one more storm. For the entire night, there seemed to be yet another storm around the corner. In the end, the Cougars got a giant monkey off their backs, and remained one of only two unbeaten teams in the Pac-12. I don't know whether even the most optimistic WSU fan would have seen this coming. If you did, get yourself to Nevada.

The Good

  • #specialforces - WSU got one chance to return a kick Saturday night. Robert Taylor sure made the most of it. The spin move/tip toe/hesitation combo was incredible. More importantly, it came at a time that WSU desperately needed a big play.
  • The middle of the game - Starting with Taylor's kick return in the second quarter, WSU's possessions went touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, punt, touchdown, touchdown. Not bad!
  • Luke Falk's toughness - But seriously I don't know how he made it back to the plane.
  • Positive turnover margin - WSU got away with a few, particularly Falk's fumble and a couple dropped interceptions, but winning the turnover battle almost always portends victory.
  • Gabe Marks - He hadn't really had a "wow" moment in a while, but he broke out Saturday. He burned that DB on his long catch, then implanted his fist in the guy's facemask until he reached the endzone.
  • WSU's final drive - The Cougs got the ball, up five, with 4:36 to go. They needed two first downs to seal it, and didn't exactly have the running game working. Falk-to-Cracraft got one first down, and Falk-to-Marks got the other. Game, set, match. Special thanks to Todd Graham for taking two of three precious second half timeouts on offense.
  • Mike Leach - The Leach family moving truck parked beside the curb in Todd Graham's brain this week, and unloaded all the household goods Saturday night. Leach would not confirm whether his barrel of chickenbullshit survived the move.

The Bad

  • College kickers - Erik...buddy. One point may not seem like much, but the difference between a 16-point lead and a 17-point lead is immense.
  • The run fits on Kalen Ballage's long touchdown - One guy out of position, and Ballage goes 52 yards untouched.
  • Marcellus Pippins' physicality - You may or may not have seen that one replay that showed Manny Wilkins leaping a defender to score a touchdown. That defender was Marcellus Pippins. Why he thought he needed to go low on a quarterback is beyond me, but had he just tried to make the tackle, it would have been fourth down.
  • Late game math - WSU had a first down with 1:59 left, and ASU was out of timeouts. With a 40-second play clock, all they had to do was kneel three times. For some reason, Falk was told to roll out and run around on first down, before sliding down. Guys, I don't need to tell you how badly we need Luke to survive. Giving an angry defense a chance to take a cheap shot, when it isn't at all necessary, is suboptimal.

The Ugly

  • #specialforces Part Two - Enough of the rugby punts. Just stop it already.
  • The big uglies - I don't know what happened to the offensive line, but if you see them, please tell them that Luke really needs them to show up. Saturday night was easily their worst performance of the season.
  • Related: The absence of a rushing attack - It looked like ASU was geared up to stop the run, but WSU almost totally abandoned the running game.
  • The one drive that ended in a punt amid all those touchdowns - The defense gave the offense its best field position all night after a fumble recovery. The offense took the field and promptly turned first-and-10 at the ASU 34 into fourth-and-27 at the WSU 49.
  • Sunday mornings - I'm old. I rarely stay up past 11 at night. Next week, for the fifth straight Saturday, I'll be up well past two in the morning. This is getting rough. Please, broadcasting gods, schedule the Arizona game for the afternoon. Thanks in advance.

The Gorgeous - 4-0. First Place. Go Cougs


Washington State overcomes Tempe troubles, wins at Arizona State for first time since 2001, 37-32 | The Spokesman-Review
Washington State effectively exorcized 15 years of demons at Sun Devil Stadium, with the Cougars eventually dominating in every football phase during their 37-32 win at ASU on Saturday.

Cougars-SunDevils players of the game | The Spokesman-Review
Robert Taylor scored WSU’s first kick return touchdown since 2003 and the Cougars’ first touchdown of the game. He also made four tackles on defense, broke up a pass and did not give up many big plays from his free safety position.

WSU-ASU notes: Robert Taylor’s kickoff return for TD first for Washington State since 2003 | The Spokesman-Review
A spin long enough to dry a rain-soaked pair of jeans, an extra burst of speed and needlepoint footwork were what Taylor used to end Washington State’s 13-year kick return scoring drought.

CFN College Football Rankings No. 1 To 128 After Week 8 | College Football News
Don’t look now, but the Cougars are on a five-game winning streak and should be 8-2 going into the road trip to Colorado.

ASU can't overcome injuries in loss to Washington State
"Obviously, this one hurts," ASU coach Todd Graham said, mentioning several of his seniors by name. "It felt like we could’ve won the game. Just made some critical mistakes at critical times."

Boivin: Mike Leach goes low, Arizona State goes high
The unintentional comedy in this article is pretty high on the charts.


Cougar Rowing Has Strong Showing at Spokane - | Washington State University Athletics
he Washington State University women's rowing team made the short trip to Spokane to face rival Gonzaga, Saturday morning at the Head of the Spokane at the Spokane River.


Best beer I had this week: Ballast Point Victory at Sea is back in stores, and back in my life. This is some of the best beer news I've received in a long time.

Forget Craft Beer. Craft Liquor Is the Next Big Thing


Liquid assets: how the business of bottled water went mad | Sophie Elmhirst | Business | The Guardian
The long read: How did a substance that falls from the air, springs from the earth and comes out of your tap become a hyperactive multibillion-dollar business?