Good morning. You’re well aware by now that we’re in the vast desert of #content between the conclusion of spring athletics and the beginning of fall training camps. There isn’t a lot of live sports viewing to be done right now, unless you’re a baseball sycophant, so what to do? Yours truly has begun to carve out 45-60 minutes per night to re-watch a Washington State Cougars game from the last few seasons, which has led to all kinds of thoughts.
One of those spurred the topic for today, as I watched a replay of the 2019 win over the Colorado Buffaloes. I kept thinking about how close that team was to being really good, only to be constantly sabotaged by a frighteningly bad defense. For some reason, I kept reverting to the game against the eventual Rose Bowl champ Oregon Ducks, and how WSU absolutely had them beaten for the fifth consecutive year, only to give it away.
So that got me to thinking about all the close call losses that could have changed the trajectory of a season over the last five years of the Mike Leach era. I thought it might be a fun little exercise to share with you all in case you have thought about the same once or a thousand times like I have. First, I eliminated the Apple Cups, since those were never really close. 2018 maybe sorta kinda was, but that’s a stretch. Along those lines, I also eliminated the blowout losses such as Cal in 2017, since WSU was never in that game.
To me, the top two are pretty easy. After that, it gets rather arbitrary. Here goes:
1) 2018: USC defeats WSU, 39-36
Comment: Where to begin? WSU was the better team, but too many self-induced mistakes and one too few targeting calls combined to do them in. If WSU wins this game, they’re 11-0 going in to the Apple Cup, and have already clinched the Pac-12 North. They’re also probably #4 in the CFP standings. A loss to Washington likely eliminates them from the CFP, but they’re still going to the Pac-12 Title game to face a Utah Utes team missing its starting quarterback and star running back. A win there (likely) and it’s back to Pasadena. Alas.
2) 2015: Stanford defeats WSU, 30-28
Comment: If only one more field goal had gone in. WSU led 12-3 at halftime, and clung to a 22-20 advantage after a 3rd quarter that saw Stanford score 17 points. Unfortunately, the final kick sailed wide. With a win, WSU would have - stop me if you’ve read this before - clinched the North before the Apple Cup. In the title game, they’d have faced a decidedly “meh” 8-4 USC team for a spot in the Rose Bowl.
3) 2016: Colorado defeats WSU, 38-24
Comment: Leading 14-7, Luke Falk delivered a 9-route dime to Gabe Marks in the end zone, and Marks promptly dropped it. Go up 21-7 there and I’m willing to bet WSU wins. This is ranked high for selfish reasons, as I was at the game with some other fellow CougCenterers, and a win would have made a great weekend all the more amazing. It also would have given WSU its ninth consecutive win, a feat which I’m not sure they’ve ever accomplished in a single season.
4) 2016: EWU defeats WSU, 45-42
Comment: It wasn’t so much that it happened, but more that it happened again. I also considered the Boise State loss here, because WSU should have won that game as well. Oh, and there was the controversial suspension of starting defensive lineman Robert Barber mixed in. What a fun start to the season!
5) 2015: Cal defeats WSU, 34-28
After the nonsense of 2014, this was probably mild by comparison. A disastrous third quarter that began with classic #specialforces ineptitude gave way to a WSU offense that couldn’t score over the final 21 minutes. A win here would have eventually meant 10 wins for WSU, and would have stemmed the tide of Cal nonsense for a whole two years! This was also the game that led to Jeff Nusser’s epic screed in which he repeatedly called for WSU to fire Mike Leach and start over.*
*This may or may not be true
(Dis)honorable mention: 2015 Portland State (nearly melted our website), 2016 Holiday Bowl (stunningly awful offense), a cornucopia of 2019 frustration (pick one between UCLA, ASU, Oregon, Air Force).
So, what would you pick among this ocean of misery? Let’s hear it!
Which close WSU loss since 2015 would you like to change?
This poll is closed
2016 Eastern Washington
Other - State your case!
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I mentioned last week that most of Team Kendall spent Memorial Day weekend on a Spanish island. When I was in Madison a couple years ago, I got them a Badgers football, and they decided to take the football with them (they are my kids, after all). You won’t believe this, but two boys, ages nine and 12, did a poor job of accounting for said football when it came time to leave. I saw an opportunity to pounce, taking up the mantle of #disappointeddad.
Now that the knife was in, I figured that was enough, and had no interest in twis...lolol of course I had to turn that blade.
Later on in the week, Mrs. Kendall was cleaning out the Superfund site also known as the nine year-old’s backpack, as the school year is drawing to a close. First, let’s pour one out for the dearly-departed Coug folder.
It had a good run, and given the way he treats his possessions, I’m stunned that it isn’t in worse shape. But that was a mere palate cleanser compared to the next discovery.
Yep, that’s an email address from a girl in the class, who clearly wants to keep in touch over the summer. When asked about this discovery, Mrs. Kendall reports that his face “turned 16 shades of purple.” His explanation was flimsier than that torn piece of paper, as he insisted that “she just wanted to see a picture of the cat!” Yes, and Godzilla “just wanted to take a look around” Tokyo.
Reading this article made me think of Team of Rivals, and once again boosted my appreciation for Abraham Lincoln.
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