Good evening, Coug fans. My fellow CougCenter writers are otherwise occupied with housewarming parties and whatnot. So while my wife drinks wine with a neighbor on our lanai, I volunteered to write the game recap while sipping on one of the greatest beers ever made, Ballast Point’s Victory at Sea.
WSU’s matchup with Nevada was not supposed to be competitive. Turns out, WSU’s game with Nevada was never competitive, as the Cougs beat up on the Wolf Pack, 45-7. WSU kicked to open the game, and exerted its will immediately with two sacks on the first three Nevada plays. After a first drive that came up empty, capped by an, um, curious decision to go for it on 4th and 20, WSU decided they’d had about enough.
The rest of the first half went like this: Nevade punt, WSU touchdown. Nevada punt, WSU touchdown. Nevada punt, WSU touchdown (sense a pattern here?). Nevada punt, WSU touchdown. WSU interception, WSU touchdown. End of half. So after that first possession, WSU scored every time they had the ball in the first half. That seems ok. Four of those five Cougar touchdown came through the air, as you can see here:
Luke Falk has 4 TD in the first half. Oh, and he just passed Matt Leinart for 3rd most in Pac-12 history! #NEVvsWSU pic.twitter.com/YPiyPwv7b7— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) September 23, 2017
In the midst of this murderkill, Luke Falk surpassed Matt Leinart, throwing the 3rd-most touchdowns in Pac-12 history. Falk’s touchdown pass total now stands at 103. He is two behind Marcus Marriota’s 105, and 13 behind the all-time record of 116, held by Matt Barkley.
Oh, and Falk also threw for 478 yards, along with those five TDs.
Have yourself a day Luke Falk!!! #NEVvsWSU pic.twitter.com/pe4vKRXVSB— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) September 24, 2017
The Cougars began the second half with another scoring drive, though this one ended with an Erik Powell 28-yard field goal. Once again, Nevada punted. Once again, WSU marched down the field and scored another touchdown. As you might have guessed, it came via the air, as Falk hit Tavares Martin, Jr for a 19-yard touchdown pass.
As you might expect, it got a little disjointed after that, as WSU began to substitute (though not at quarterback, more on that Sunday). Tyler Hilinski came in for WSU’s next possession and things went south, as there was some serious fumble buffoonery, culminating in a Hilinski interception.
WSU’s shutout seemed in peril, as Nevada had sort of lucked into their first red zone possession. This should give you an idea of how dominant WSU’s defense was throughout the game. Not to fear, though, as Jalen Thompson intercepted one of the nameless Nevada quarterbacks who was terrible, briefly preserving the shutout.
The shutout was not to be, however, as the Wolfpack capitalized on yet another bizarre Mike Leach decision. Facing fourth-and-two at their own 42 yardline, WSU bypassed a punt (which would have almost guaranteed their second whitewash in four games) and went for it. WSU didn’t make it, and Nevada took over on downs.
Eight plays and 38 yards later, including a fourth-and-three conversion, Nevada finally found the endzone against WSU’s backups, as Leach and Grinch opted against the 2013 Idaho tactic of throwing the starters back in to preserve the goose egg. How many backups were playing? So many that when Will Rodgers III drew a flag the announcers didn’t know who he was.
If you’re looking for a sign that the game is going pretty well, “we have no idea who that player is” is probably one of them. So now it’s on to the meat of the schedule, with unbeaten USC headed to Pullman in six days. The game will take place in front of a sellout crowd. See you there.