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Cougars end another successful season in disappointing fashion

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Last night was bad, but a lot of good happened in 2017 too

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SDCCU Holiday Bowl - Michigan State v Washington State Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Washington State football season ended in familiar fashion Thursday night in San Diego. The Cougs, who a month ago played for a spot in the Pac-12 championship game, suffered another frustrating loss in the Holiday Bowl.

The opponent was different, and the score worse than last year, 42-17 to Michigan State, but the feeling was similar. The Cougs looked uninspired in a game many of us were excited to watch and that was a let down.

A bad bowl game performance coupled with three other blowout losses has many fans feeling understandably down about the season. But going back and looking at preseason expectations may make you feel a bit better.

Of the CougCenter contributors, only one picked the Cougs to win more than nine games in the regular season, and five correctly predicted a 9-3 finish. So unless your Jeff, it’s hard to say this team didn’t at least meet expectations.

Ending the year with back to back blowouts is naturally going to put a sour taste in people’s mouths, but perspective is important. The Cougs just wrapped up the second winningest three year stretch in program history, and left fans with a collection of good memories from 2017.

There was the epic comeback against Boise St starting with Peyton Pelluer’s pick six. A win over Orgeon on the road to push the Cougs to 6-0 and into the AP top 10. And the magical Friday night game against USC where all of Martin Stadium emptied onto the field after Jahad Woods stripped Sam Darnold to secure the victory.

2017 didn’t end as any of us wanted, and didn’t go as any expected. It had a few signature moments, and a few too many resounding losses. But it was entertaining, and at least we didn’t lose to another FCS team.

*****

Football:

Cougs could have confirmed their program is rebuilt, but Holiday Bowl a bust | The Seattle Times
With a chance for Washington State to record its first 10-win season since 2003, things fell apart in San Diego on Thursday night.

Vince Grippi’s three takes: Washington State’s secretive nature regarding Luke Falk was the first of many poor decisions | The Spokesman-Review
This one may have been decided before the first kickoff, which featured the first of many poor Washington State decisions.

Abysmal second quarter, rash of injuries doom Washington State in 42-17 Holiday Bowl loss to Michigan State | The Spokesman-Review
Washington State’s history in the Holiday Bowl against the Big Ten Conference and the Cougars’ well-documented inability to contain quarterbacks with the ability to run and pass morphed into one big catastrophe Thursday at SDCCU Stadium on a still night in San Diego.

Washington State backup Tyler Hilinski gets first career start in Holiday Bowl | The Spokesman-Review
Starter Luke Falk was seen wearing a cast when he arrived at the Cougars’ bowl practice Tuesday at Southwestern College and the Cougars’ fourth-year senior starter was careful to keep his left hand in his pocket at bowl events throughout the week.

Mike Leach mum on future of Washington State junior defensive tackle Hercules Mata’afa | The Spokesman-Review
The Lahaina, Hawaii, native and consensus All-American didn’t play in the first half of the game because of his targeting ejection in WSU’s previous game against Washington.

2018 NFL Draft prospect watch: Holiday Bowl | NFL Draft news and analysis | Pro Football Focus
Examining the top draft-eligible prospects in the Holiday Bowl between Washington State and Michigan State, with eyes towards the 2018 NFL Draft.

Alex Grinch to Ohio State has not been 'finalized,' Urban Meyer says
Alex Grinch could still be headed to Ohio State, but nothing is final yet ahead of the 2017 Cotton Bowl.

John Blanchette: All the world’s a stage and Mike Leach’s Cougars are merely players | The Spokesman-Review
It was a couple of weeks ago in a TV interview here that Mike Leach claimed to have booted wide receiver Tavares Martin Jr. from Washington State’s football roster “because he created drama.”

Michigan State football wins Holiday Bowl - 3 quick takes from Couch
This turned into steamrolling, with Washington State appearing resigned to its fate — until a couple misleading scores late. But it didn’t begin that way. Michigan State made it happen.

Basketball:

How To Watch Washington State at UCLA: Game Preview, Time, TV & Stream - Bruins Nation
Coming off an impressive win over number seven Kentucky, the UCLA Bruins now open conference play against the Washington State Cougars.