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Washington State blows through Northern Colorado, 64-21


NCAA Football: Northern Colorado at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The #23 Washington State Cougars had no trouble with the Northern Colorado Bears, cruising to a 64-21 victory.

WSU (3-0) came into the game as huge favorites and delivered. The Cougs opened with 43 unanswered before surrendering a great touchdown grab before the half to kill the shutout. Holding a 43-7 halftime lead, Jake Dickert sent out the second string for the entirety of the second half as WSU cruises to a 3-0 start.

Things didn’t start quite as easy as the scoreboard appeared. After surrendering a 3rd down conversion on the games opening set of downs, the Bears held the Cougs just short of the marker on an eight yard pass to Carlos Hernandez. WSU elected to go for it at their own 44 and got it after Cam Ward saw the three man front, ran up to the line and took the QB sneak three yards from under center for a first down. A pass interference and a deep strike to Lincoln Victor set the Cougs up inside the 10. Ward capped off the drive with an eight yard scamper to give WSU the early lead. Rather than take the easy PAT, WSU wanted to try out a two-point play and got it work as Jaylen Jenkins ran the play to perfection finding Billy Reviere for the two points to put WSU up 8-0.

It was more of the same the rest of the way. After a NCU three and out, WSU quickly gashed through the Bears defense again as Ward found a wide open Kyle Williams across the middle who did the rest, running for another 18 yards for another Cougar touchdown.

WSU’s third drive was even quicker, lasting just four plays and 1:07 coming off the clock. Sitting at the NCU 28, Ward had all day to find Victor open over the middle who made a couple Bears miss along the way to give WSU their third touchdown of the first quarter.

The Bears managed to get their first first down of the game on their third drive, but would go no further. WSU made it a perfect four for four on touchdown drives on their sixth play when Josh Kelly went up and over a Bears defender for the touchdown.

WSU got the run game involved on the fifth drive when Nakia Watson capped off the seven play drive with a six yard hand off to push WSU up 36-0. On the sixth drive, Victor made up for a dropped touchdown on the previous drive, taking a drag route across the line of scrimmage for 31 yards all the way to the house to give WSU a 43-0 lead before the halftime whistle had even been blown.

With less than 15 seconds to go in the first half, WSU’s defense finally caved when former Pac-12 QB Jacob Sirmon hit Jamarii Robinson on an incredible catch in the endzone that looked like a likely WSU interception to break the shutout at 43-7.

Ward and the rest of the first-teams day was done after a QB kneel to end the first half, but the second string kept the route on. Dylan Paine and Djouvensky Schlenbaker set the tone on the ground while John Mateer dotted up the Bear defense in the air, including a perfect dart to Josh Meredith for a 15-yard touchdown to give WSU their second 50 bomb of the young season.

David Afari gashed the WSU second string defense on the following drive with back-to-back rushes for a combined 63 yards to help set up a Bears touchdown on a QB sneak six plays later. On just the second play of the next drive, Mateer dropped a perfect pass right into the bread basket of Tsion Nunnally for a 62-yard house call, making WSU a perfect 8 for 8 on touchdown drives.

Dylan Paine made it 9 for 9 on the next drive with a short touchdown run, but the Bears responded with a 52-yard catch and go to Darius Stewart that would prove to be the final points of the game. A low-stress, 64-21 victory for the Cougs.

A lot of good for WSU as was the expected outcome. If there was anything to nit-pick, WSU still had troubles with the ground game with their first stringers in. However, they were still able to cash in for 236 yards on the ground, led by the second string duo of Paine and Schlenbaker combining for 11 carries and 122 yards. Ward finished the first half 20/26 for 327 yards and four touchdowns while the leading receiver, Victor, grabbed six catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns. Overall, WSU did exactly what they needed to, win big.

With the non-conference slate out of the way, WSU will look forward to hosting their only fellow Pac-12 member, the #16 Oregon State Beavers next Saturday in Pullman.