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The Good, Bad and Ugly of yet another bowl game loss

As reliable as the salmon of Capistrano

Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl Presented by Stifel - Fresno State v Washington State Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

It’s going to be ok. No, really, it is. Sure, WSU embarrassed itself in yet another bowl game. Sure, the team pulled consecutive rivalry and bowl game no-shows for the for the fourth time in seven seasons. And sure, the program now faces yet another offseason in which there are seemingly far more questions than answers. But Christmas is coming, and before you know it, spring practice will be here, blooming hope anew for 2023. Between now and then, there’s lots of losing basketball to watch as well! Just like old times!

Unfortunately, WSU’s bowl game face plant was yet another in a string of postseason disappointments. Even the wins, all two of them, weren’t exactly resounding triumphs. To wit:

  • 2013: New Mexico Bowl loss to Colorado State, which played out in a fashion that made Chernobyl look like a brush fire.
  • 2015: Sun Bowl win, in which WSU did not score a point in the second half, and needed several lucky plays - a bizarrely-called and horribly-executed Miami halfback pass among them - just to escape with a 20-14 win.
  • 2016: A WSU team that averaged more than 38 points-per-game, facing a Minnesota team going through massive turmoil and missing most of its starting secondary, scores all of six non-garbage time points and loses 17-12.
  • 2017: Not to be outdone by the 2016 non-effort, WSU goes back to San Diego and gets blown out of the stadium by a score of 42-17, making some slappy named Brian Lewerke look like 2010 Cam Newton in the process.
  • 2018: WSU builds a 21-7 lead in the Alamo Bowl, then scores all of seven second-half points (on a drive that totaled 30 yards), and hangs on to beat Iowa State by two, after a late ISU two-point try fails.
  • 2019: A WSU team that averages 39 points-per-game manages all of 21 against the Johnny Try Hards at the Air Force Academy, and its hapless defense can’t stop any run short of five yards in a 31-21 loss.
  • 2021: WSU faces noted juggernaut Central Michigan without a few star players - who had to get a head start on being drafted in the 7th Round or not at all - in El Paso, falls behind 21-0, then loses to Central Michigan while its quarterback quits in the locker room at halftime.

That leads us to Saturday.

The Good

  • The game began on ESPNNews, which means that casual viewers didn’t see Fresno State slice through the WSU defense for the game’s first touchdown.
  • I’ve watched more college football than any reasonable person should, by a lot, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a touchback following a safety. Well done, Colton Theaker! WSU player of the game! I’m not kidding, even a little.
  • Nice hit by Langford to force a fourth down. Can’t believe he wasn’t flagged!

The Bad

  • I don’t know, everything else?
  • I wonder what Daiyan Henley was thinking while watching plays such as the 3rd-and-20 Fresno screen pass that went for like 23 yards, or on the multitude of plays when his backups were getting their asses kicked.
  • Honestly curious whether Cam Ward has any idea that defenses are allowed to blitz. That performance on Saturday displayed nothing but monumental regression at the quarterback position.
  • Then again, he can’t even be bothered to tuck his shirt in, which caused a sack.
  • I haven’t played offensive line in years, and only did so in high school, but one thing I remember, that spans all levels: You block the closest threat to the quarterback, from the inside out. Apparently Christian Hilborn doesn’t care for such dogma, since he let a blitzer race right through the B gap on WSU’s 2-point try.
  • When taking a break from his increasingly creepy verbal love letters to Jake Haener, Greg McElroy noted that WSU was missing offensive coordinator Aaron McCoy. Greg took his game prep seriously, you guys.
  • But for real, the Haener drooling was bizarre. McElroy tried to make the case that Haener was the second or third-best quarterback...IN THE NATION! He wouldn’t even be in the Pac-12’s top three, Greg. Get off your knees, you’re embarrassing yourself.

The Ugly

  • Imagine spending one penny to watch that garbage. Many people bought plane tickets! Hotel rooms! Game tickets! And paid for parking! All to witness that trash performance. If that weren’t hilarious enough, some people bought luxury suites in the end zone, mostly for the privilege of staring at security guard butts for 3 hours, with the occasional interruption of a Fresno player running into the endzone. There’s an apocryphal quote attributed mostly to P.T. Barnum, which goes, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Lots of those types were clad in crimson on Saturday. Hell, all I did was watch the first three quarters from my couch, and I felt like a dupe.
  • I don’t often peruse the game threads, usually because I’m busy overreacting in the Slack comments. But I decided to check the bowl thread out after the game ended Saturday, and hoo boy, let’s dial things back a bit, team. From wishing injury upon the opposing quarterback (as big a d-nozzle as he may be), to predicting a 3-9 record next year, to saying WSU will be lucky to win one (!!!) game, to proclaiming WSU’s program is dead, it was something else. Hopefully a night’s rest has brought us back to reality. A reality in which WSU will win somewhere between five to seven of its first 10 games, and lose its final two in humiliating fashion. Same as it ever was.

So, if you’re scoring at home (or even if you’re by yourself), here’s one final tidbit. Beginning with the New Mexico Bowl in 2013, WSU is now 0-4 in bowl games against Group of Five teams.

The spring game is only about 115 days away. Take heart.


The Cougs take on the highly-ranked Baylor Bears Sunday evening. WSU is a 10.5-point underdog (seems short!), and you can watch the game on ESPN2 if you haven’t sat through enough WSU Athletics ineptitude this weekend.

This Week in Parenting

The 5th-grader took part in his elementary school’s gingerbread house contest this week. His partner and he decided on a football stadium, but unfortunately his pal was sick for much of the week, so it was up to him to put the thing together. He asked mom and me to help him, but we mostly left it up to him since the rules were pretty specific about adults not providing assistance. He did pretty well, I thought.

Displays had to be retrieved at the school by Thursday, so I went to pick it up. There were several others still there, and my god, you should have see these things. Most of them looked like they came straight out of a Food Network show. But yeah, a bunch of 10 year-olds were stringing Christmas lights from power poles to two-story houses all on their own. Sure thing.

When I went to the school to grab the gingerbread stadium, at about 2 p.m., I noticed that a bunch of cars were lined up out front to pick up their kids. So when I went inside, I asked the staff members if that was a regular occurrence, and what time the kids were released. One lady said the cars start lining up at 1:30, in advance of the 2:30 bell. My jaw dropped (this is not hyperbole). People so little to do that they sit in their cars for upwards of AN HOUR in front of the school? USA! USA! USA!

Later in the week, Saturday Night Live aired its annual Christmas episode. We got to see half of it, since breathless local news was providing wall-to-wall coverage of the impending apocalypse line of thunderstorms passing through. But one of the parts we got to see was the iconic Schweddy Balls sketch.

The 11 year-old lost his mind, howling throughout the entire thing.

While I was watching college football the other day, the 14 year-old was talking to his grandma. Apparently dissatisfied with my weekend viewing habits, he said, “Thankfully college football will be over soon.” The DNA test results are still pending.

I know I’ve said it many times in the past, but I am so thankful that my kids don’t really give a damn about the results of these stupid games. One kid did some volunteer work for Junior ROTC, while the other went to Avatar 2. Both were much better uses of time than mine.

Other Stuff

The Voyagers - The Atavist Magazine
In 1945, a father and his young son set out across the Bering Strait, fleeing Soviet Russia for a better life in America. Neither knew how perilous their journey would become.

Pay-to-play in youth soccer is more of a problem than ever before : NPR
When it comes to youth soccer opportunities, the U.S. lags the rest of the world, he says. "We are just structurally pushing aside kids who want to play a game that is accessible around the world to kids of all income categories."