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Cougars escape Corvallis with sixth straight win

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First half - bad. Second half - great. Bowl spot - secured.

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning. First, let's sum up what Saturday night's victory meant.

When WSU lost in Boise some time ago, could you have imagined that the Cougars would be bowl eligible before the calendar turned to November? If you did, you are almost certainly one of a precious few. This incredible run WSU is on is almost inexplicable. For the third season in a row, WSU won in Oregon. For the second year in a row, the Cougs really made it hard on themselves and their fans.

But how they got here doesn't matter nearly as much as the fact that they are here, still perfect in conference play. If I watched the first half of that game 10 times, I'd probably tell you that there was little-to-no chance WSU was coming back. I am honestly baffled by this team's mental makeup. On one hand, they rarely seem ready to play when the game starts. On the other hand, they don't get rattled, no matter how bleak it appears. With that, let's react to what we saw.

The Good

  • The second half (especially the fourth quarter) rushing attack - For reasons we will never fully comprehend, WSU ran the ball a total of five times in the first half, despite the fact that OSU has an abysmal run defense. That changed in the second half in general, and the fourth quarter in particular. In the final period, WSU ran the ball 13 times for 76 yards, moving the chains and bleeding the clock.
  • Luke Falk's toughness - Rinse. Repeat.
  • Second half defense - The only time OSU sniffed a scoring chance was when they were put in an impossible position after a #specialforces debacle. They made every stop they had to.
  • Piggybacking on that, Ngalu Tapa's stop on third-and-1 - After a very questionable decision to go for in on fourth down, the defense had to take the field in its own territory. With one yard needed for a first down, Ryan Nall got the ball. Ngalu Tapa beat his man and stonewalled Nall. Yes, the next play was huge too, but Tapa's stop on third down was vital.
  • Gabe Marks - What else can you say? I still have no idea how he caught that Falk Hail Mary, but Marks lived up to his Twitter handle Saturday, and then some. He's also quite adept at using an arm to create a little space just before he catches the ball.
  • The tunnel screen to Tavares Martin - I've missed that play this year, as they seem to rarely run it. I'm glad they did Saturday.
  • BOOBIE SPIN CYCLE
  • Isaac Dotson - That guy seems to be everywhere.
  • The middle of the third quarter - Three plays, 80 yards, touchdown. Four plays, 74 yards, touchdown. Six plays, 73 yards, touchdown. Not too shabby.
  • Fake punt defense - FINALLY
  • Cody O'Connell - I'm not saying that O'Connell was the reason the offense finally found itself in the second half, but I'm not not saying it either.
  • Late game clock management - For the second straight week, WSU bled the clock almost to perfection.

The Bad

  • Going from third-and-two to turnover-on-downs - The defense stood up and made this questionable decision moot, but man oh man. WSU had two plays to get two yards and couldn't do it. Also, the WSU defense was giving OSU next to nothing, and would almost certainly have made OSU go the length of the field. I'd have punted, but that's easy to say from my couch.
  • Head shots - In all my hours watching football, there is nothing close to the amount of head shots Luke Falk takes. It's like he's a magnet for them.
  • Turnover margin - Two turnovers for WSU, zero for OSU and their bad quarterback. That was almost the difference in the game.
  • Shalom Luani's gambling - Shalom, I like your aggressiveness, but man, if you make the easy tackle, OSU is facing third-and-10. Instead, your attempt at the interception cost dearly.
  • #pac12refs - They literally didn't know the difference between the offense and defense early on.

The Ugly

  • That first half...where to start?
  1. Offense refused to run the ball on an awful run defense
  2. Offense as a whole couldn't get out of its own way
  3. Defense looked completely lost without Robert Barber
  4. Jalen Thompson couldn't tackle
  5. Robert Taylor was the opposite of last week
  6. Erik Powell still can't kick well enough
  7. The defense on that OSU trick play was 2009 vintage, with no defender in the screen as the Seth Collins ran freely to the endzone
  8. I could go on, but I'm too happy
  • #specialforces - Bad decisions in the first half. An awful fake punt in the second half. A muffed punt when one more WSU drive/score would have put OSU away. A missed PAT. I mean, where does it end?

Bottom Line -

For just the second time in its history (if you count 2001-2003 as one bowl streak), WSU is going to the postseason in consecutive years. Given how this season started, that is thrilling beyond belief. There are still some wins out there and the Cougars are good enough to get them, starting next week.

Go Cougs.

Football

Washington State overcomes three-score deficit to win at Oregon State, 35-31 | The Spokesman-Review
WSU was brutalized during the first two quarters of Saturday’s game at Oregon State and trailed 24-6 at halftime. Even after they powered their way to a lead, they gave right back.

WSU at OSU: Postgame notes | The Spokesman-Review
Postgame notes from Washington State's win at Oregon State.

WSU notebook: Teammates pay tribute to suspended Robert Barber | The Spokesman-Review
“Robert will forever be a member of this team,” Mike Leach said after the game. “Robert belongs with us.”

Second-half collapse burns Oregon State in 35-31 loss to Washington State | OregonLive.com
Washington State outscored the Beavers 29-7 in the second half, including a 22-0 advantage in the third period that swung the game.

Penalties factor into blown Oregon State lead against Washington State | OregonLive.com
Andersen said some of the issues across the line came from "stemming," pre-snap movement by defensive linemen, which can draw opponents into false starts.

Oregon State Beavers see 21-point lead evaporate in loss to Washington State: Game at a glance | OregonLive.com
TOP PERFORMANCE: Washington State quarterback Luke Falk threw four of his five touchdown passes in the second half and finished 33 of 46 with 415 yards.

OSU football: Big first half not enough for Beavers | Football | gazettetimes.com
The Beavers had the fast start they were looking for but could not take advantage in a tough to take 35-31 Pac-12 football loss to Washington State on Saturday evening in Reser Stadium.

Pac-12 Week 9 Roundup, Rankings, Bowl Projections & What You Need To Know | College Football News
Luke Falk was beaten, battered and bruised, and Mike Leach once again made a crazy fourth-down decision when he didn’t need to, but his defense bailed him out.

Non-Revenue

Cougars Take Down No. 23 UCLA - WSUCougars.com | Washington State University Athletics
The Washington State swim team defeated UCLA, ranked No. 23 nationally by collegeswimming.com, 143-119, in Pac-12 swimming action at Gibb Pool, Saturday.

No. 18 WSU Volleyball Upset by California in Berkeley - WSUCougars.com | Washington State University Athletics
Kyra Holt tallied another double-double but it was not enough as the No. 18 Washington State volleyball team (17-7 overall, 7-5 Pac-12) was upset in three sets at California (9-13, 3-9) Saturday night at Haas Pavilion with set scores of 25-23, 25-17, and 25-22.

Beer

Best beer I had this week: As with last week, one of my favorites is finally back. This time, it's Cigar City Tocobaga Red Ale. Best red ale you'll find anywhere.

World’s Largest Brewer Says Craft Beer Market Slowing Down - Bloomberg
While many craft brands are still thriving, and few analysts expected the category’s supercharged growth to continue unabated, the cooling market isn’t welcome news for a brewing sector that’s desperate for growth.

Non-Sports

"Drunken Tacoma teacher" Klara Bowman committed suicide after media ran wild with her struggle | The News Tribune
When kindergarten teacher Klara Bowman was fired this year for being drunk at Larchmont Elementary, her struggle was a top story across the country. But when Bowman died by suicide, it went largely unremarked. Her parents want everyone to know that there was more to their daughter than her lowest moment.