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The Good, Bad and Ugly of WSU’s win over Oregon State

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I still can’t process what happened here.

Oregon State v Washington State Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

Good morning. First thing’s first.

Ok, so now that we’re safe and secure in bowl territory, I uh...I just...can anyone tell me what the hell happened back there? In some sort of cosmic justice situation, the Washington State Cougars gained a measure of payback for kicking away the UCLA game, pulling off an almost-collapse hang on near-miraculous victory to clinch their sixth win.

The fourth quarter was so bizarre that I still don’t know if it was even real. It seemed like WSU was ahead by 11 and then roughly 15 seconds later OSU led by 11 and WSU was finished but wait no because WSU scored two touchdowns in the final 130 seconds which sandwiched the defense (the defense!) forcing an OSU four-and-out after the Beavers had been moving the ball at will and does this seem like a run-on sentence because I feel like I’ve been writing a lot without any punctuation but anyway what the hell just happened?

What I think happened is that the football gods finally tired of crapping all over WSU in 2019, and instead spotted the team and its fans a little good fortune. Lord knows we all needed it, because despite the fact that Washington is worse than it’s been in a long time, knowing that the only way to the postseason was by beating them would have been nothing short of week-long misery.

But let’s try, almost certainly fruitlessly, to make a little sense of what still seems unbelievable.

The Good

  • Damn near got dusty in here when Mike Leach embraced Tyler Hilinski’s parents during the Senior Night ceremony. Quite the emotional moment.
  • Let’s recognize your new Pac-12 single season record holder for both yards and touchdowns, Mr. Anthony Gordon. The guy doesn’t get phased, despite how bad things get. That is a huge asset with this year’s team.
  • Max Borghi, Joe Namath. Joe Namath, Max Borghi.
  • Great opening drive once again by the offense, except...we’ll get to that.
  • There was one great play on that drive though, when Anthony Gordon faded from the rush and delivered a dime to Brandon Arconado for a first down. It’s plays like that which keep us coming back to you, Anthony.
  • Good play by Marcus Strong to help break up a Jake Luton pass to Isaiah Hodgins on third down, despite a very blatant Hodgins push off. That was a critical defensive stop, with WSU trailing 7-0 .
  • Great catch-and-run, Dezmon Patmon, but please save us some stress next time and dive for the end zone with both hands on the ball.
  • Huge play by Justus Rogers, blitzing and getting a piece of the ball, which turned into a WSU interception.
  • Heck of a final (for 2019, probably) appearance by Calvin Jackson, Jr. It will be fun watching him streak across the field like that in 2020.
  • How about Renard Bell stepping up in Brandon Arconado’s stead? I get the feeling that Renard has been open a lot more than he’s been thrown to this season. Great player, and quite the gymnast.
  • Very nice play by George Hicks III to blow up an end-around for no gain.
  • While we’re on the defense, there was another huge stop when Will Rodgers destroyed his guy at the point of attack on third and short, allowing the defense to make a tackle for loss.
  • Quite a slick play by Gordon to sidestep a sure sack and find Bell for a huge gain in the third quarter. That sparked the touchdown drive that gave WSU its biggest lead at 35-24.
  • Well hello there, Deon McIntosh! Six catches for 93 yards and a touchdown, along with some great open-field running and a circus catch. It is a huge deal if he can spell Borghi with quality minutes.
  • 14-0 in the third quarter is the way you want to establish yourself after halftime.
  • I know Blake Mazza has been clutch this season, but I absolutely did not want Leach to kick on 4th-and-1 from the five. Thank heavens they went for it, and were in the end zone shortly thereafter.
  • Props to our man Oscar, who has had one chance in the last two weeks and uncorked a 51-yarder.
  • The Cougars held their penalties down for the second straight week, which is critical for a team with almost no margin for error.
  • I know I have cut the defense to ribbons at nearly every turn this season, but even though they weren’t exactly reliable Saturday, they did come through when it was absolutely critical, and for that, they deserve a lot of credit. OSU was a combined 6-17 on third and fourth down, including that final possession where a conversion would have ended the game.
  • Meanwhile, the Cougars were a combined 6-10 in those situations, including the aforementioned conversion. Those six also included 4th-and-8 and 3rd-and-10 conversions on WSU’s game-winning drive.
  • Speaking of that drive, WSU ran 10 dang plays in 70 seconds without the benefit of a single timeout, which is impressive. I will say that I was pretty upset when Gordon spiked the ball on 2nd-and-8 from the OSU 43. The Cougars needed to maximize their chances, and they wasted a chance by doing that even though they had a reasonable amount of time. Luckily everything worked out.
  • I know he didn’t come out on the right side, but major kudos to Beavers coach Jonathan Smith for taking chances, both with the offense and in the kicking game. That kind of aggressiveness is why Oregon State has won so many more games this season.
  • I’ve heard a semi-wise man named Brock Huard say it before, and it was hammered home Saturday - Throw to score, run to win. The Cougs did just that, and they even scored on the run! It was interesting to see Anthony Gordon say after the game that the plan was to go to Arconado (probably the same play they ran at the end of the Oregon game), but OSU was ready for it, so they called Borghi’s number.
  • While we’re at it, great surge by the offensive line to leave no doubt.
  • I’ve been at this a while, and I don’t ever remember WSU trying to corral a last-play kick return like that, which we see every once in a while during football season. Someone smarter than I should overlay yakety sax to that one.

EDIT: HOLY CRAP SOMEBODY ACTUALLY DID IT THIS IS THE BEST

  • Since I was watching on dvr, I didn’t see many commercials. However, that ad for the Pop n Play cat toy may have been the greatest commercial in the history of Pac-12 Networks.

The Bad

  • Man, I know we need to take the bad with the (almost all) good with ol’ Gordo, but those turnovers were damn near a death knell. The first one was a good play by the OSU DB, but it was a poor throw as well.
  • And of course the defense allows a touchdown drive of 99 yards in five freaking plays right afterward.
  • Dez, buddy, please stop letting passes bounce off your chest and into the hands of a defender.
  • Gordon and Tay just can’t seem to connect on those vertical routes. Something is off.
  • As good as Borghi is, sometimes his vision could use some work. He took a handoff and had a hole that nearly spanned the middle of the hashmarks to the left, but cut right into the defense.
  • Has anybody ever seen Gordo and Dave Krieg in the same room? Old Seahawks fans will get that one.
  • My stomach developed quite the pit when Arconado went to the injury tent. I know he came back, but hopefully he’s ok going forward.
  • I don’t know how they can solve it, but Skyler Thomas just doesn’t seem capable of covering wide receivers down the field.
  • Justus Rogers was great on the play mentioned above, but man, there are multiple times when he should be making tackles in the hole and the running back goes right by him. Also would’ve been nice if he’d caught that pass that hit him in the hands.

The Ugly

  • Two straight games, two straight plays where a WSU receiver got hit in the face by the crown of the defender’s helmet, two straight times that the play either wasn’t reviewed or was overturned. Complete garbage, and compelling evidence that a) nobody knows what Targeting is and b) the rule itself isn’t helping a damn thing.
  • Oh, and extra credit for flagging Renard Bell because he was excited and decided to celebrate 50 yards from the play after his team scored with two seconds remaining to pull off a miracle win. NO FUN ALLOWED HERE, RENARD.
  • Incredibly fortunate to somehow get a win despite a -4 turnover ratio. Gonna go ahead and declare that they won’t win the next time that happens.

Somehow, some way, after all this team has been through this season, they managed to carve out six wins in their first 11 games. As stressful as it’s been, and as many years as it’s robbed from my life, it feels pretty damn great. Go Cougs.

Football

Deon McIntosh picks perfect time for breakout game as Washington State earns bowl eligibility | The Spokesman-Review
Lost, perhaps, in the frantic ending of Washington State’s 54-53 victory over Oregon State was that junior running back Deon McIntosh quietly had his best game of the season.

Difference makers: Max Borghi has last laugh as Washington State downs Oregon State in instant classic | The Spokesman-Review
When Brandon Arconado left the game with a wrist injury in the first half, Bell filled in at “Y” receiver and did so admirably.

Analysis: Records fall, promises kept as Washington State outlatsts Oregon State in thriller to earn bowl berth | The Spokesman-Review
Max Borghi called his shot. Then made his house call.

John Blanchette: Max Borghi delivers on guaranteed satisfaction | The Spokesman-Review
In one of the most improbable – and certainly goose-bumpable – finishes in WSU football history, the Cougars overcame an 11-point deficit and pulled out a 54-53 victory over the Beavers with 2 seconds on the clock.

OSU football: Beavers can't hold late lead in tough loss to Cougars | Football | gazettetimes.com
Washington State running back Max Borghi guaranteed the Cougars were going to go bowling and said they were going to beat Oregon State to do it.

Oregon State comes up one play, one point, one first down short in 54-53 loss to Washington State - oregonlive.com
If it’s possible to eliminate who won, who lost and the stakes, Saturday night’s shootout at Martin Stadium was as entertaining as it gets in college football.

Pac-12 recap: CFP chances shrink as Oregon loses to ASU
The Ducks' loss leaves Utah as the Pac-12's only playoff contender, but the Utes need help after a wild weekend in the Pac-12 that saw Cal defeat Stanford and WSU outlast Oregon State.

Soccer

Football aside, there’s kind of a big soccer game happening Sunday in Virginia! Your Sweet 16 WSU Women’s Soccer team is taking on the West Virginia Mountaineers for the right to advance in the NCAA Soccer Tournament. This has a chance to be a pretty great WSU sports weekend!

A Chance at History - Washington State University Athletics
The Cougs head back to the Sweet 16 for just the second time in program history, repeating their run from 2017, after defeating No. 1 seed Virginia.

This Week in Parenting

Gardening Club Update: So we’re three weeks in to “Gardening Club” now, and the eight year-old has done the following: pulled dead plants out of the soil around the school grounds and raked leaves in front of the library. I gotta admit, that’s quite the racket they’ve got going at that school.

The kiddos came home with their report cards recently, and the 11 year-old did pretty well. I’m not writing this to brag on him, but to illustrate how hare-brained kids can be. He got all A’s, with the exception of Reading, where he had a B. Now, you might think that’s great, and it is. However, this kid has already read more books in the last five years than I will ever read in my entire life. It gets so bad that I find myself accosting him at times because he’s got his face in a book when he needs to be doing something else. “Put the book down!” is never something I thought I’d have to tell my kids.

So, why did he get a “B” in his strongest subject? Well, because despite the fact that he reads and reads and reads, he did not complete his class-mandated reading log. As a result, that portion of his grade was in the gutter and pulled down his overall grade with it.

It’s like I told him...long ago in a galaxy far away when I flew on planes for a living instead of building PowerPoint slides, we had to log our training events after every flight. If you didn’t log it, you didn’t do it. I tell him this repeatedly, because it’s been an issue elsewhere with him, too. And still, AND STILL, he overlooks it. Long story short he’s grounded forever.

And finally, I came home the other night and Mrs. Kendall was cooking dinner is something called a Shark Ninja or Ninja Shark or whatever. It’s basically like one of those Instapots. Anyway, as I looked it to see what was cooking, the 11 year-old goes, “mom’s playing with her favorite toy again.” I’m here to tell you, unintentional innuendo is one of the top five reasons to have kids. It provides us adults with a tremendous amount of laughter.

Beer

Best beer I had this week: Chimay is good, but whisky barrel-aged Chimay to celebrate a fifth straight bowl game is really great!

I may or may not have gone for a 4-mile run shortly after finishing that beer, mostly because I had no idea how I was going to try and articulate what happened. Pretty sure I failed but oh well.

These Beers Are What Experts Are Bringing To Thanksgiving Dinner
Looking forward to sitting down to a big meal on Thanksgiving is something that many people dream about all month.

Non-Sports

Carrie Fisher Book Excerpt Recalls John Belushi Relationship
In an excerpt from the new book Carrie Fisher: Life on the Edge, author Sheila Weller describe’s Fisher’s hard-partying days with SNL’s John Belushi.