Nearly everyone expected a shootout between Washington State and California and it's safe to say they were not disappointed. The Cougars and Golden Bears went back-and-forth in a record-setting affair with a missed chip-shot field goal giving Cal a 60-59 win. The game was a nightmare for defensive and special teams coordinators. Connor Halliday set a NCAA FBS single-game passing record, throwing for 734 yards. California returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.
For the third time this season, Halliday and the WSU offense had the ball in its hands with a chance to march on a drive and win the game. The Cougars came up short against Rutgers and again against Oregon.With A little more than three minutes to play, WSU needed to drive into at least field goal territory to win. Halliday hit Mayle for a big gain early and had Isiah Myers for a huge pickup over the middle, but Myers was unable to come up with the catch. Two plays later and the Cougars faced a forth down. Just like against Oregon, the Cougars needed a conversion to stay alive. This time, Halliday hit River Cracraft to move the chains and keep the hope alive. Shocker, the Cougars needed a play and went to Cracraft.
Sleep-deprived thoughts on a record-breaking loss
Connor Halliday and the WSU offense broke records last night, and we shouldn't let the rest of the team's failures tarnish that.
Calvin Green nearly came up with a leaping touchdown reception, but was unable to secure the ball. He hauled it in on the next reception, moving the Cougars inside the 25. Now, WSU was within field goal range. Field goals have been less than automatic this season, so WSU stayed in attack mode. A quick hit to Mayle gave Halliday the single-game passing record and moved the Cougars inside the Cal 10-yardline. Gerard Wicks appeared to score on the first down run, but was ruled down. The play was not reviewed. Another failed run and the Cougars turned to Quentin Breshears for the game-winning kick.
It was all there for the taking, and Breshears missed a 19-yard chip shot.
Game over. Cougs lose.
The Air Raid vs. Bear Raid matchup promised to put the ball in the air and boy did it ever. The teams took turns ripping off chunks of yardage through the air. WSU connected on a 90-yard touchdown early in the game and added an 85-yarder later on. Cal gashed the Cougars over and over, holding tough against the pass rush and finding open space in the secondary. Whatever good will the Cougar defense built up with recent solid performances was completely thrown out the window. While Jared Goff sat back and made some good throws under pressure. The Bears absolutely shredded the Cougar defense both through the air and on the ground. Sulaiman Hameed left the game early with an apparent injury and while his absence was surely a detriment, the Cougar defense was still an embarrassment. They didn't tackle, they didn't cover. They didn't do much well.
The game would have been a complete blowout, except for an absurd performance from Halliday and the offense. The senior quarterback was dialed in, finding Mayle, Cracraft, Dom Williams and the rest of the receivers for big play after big play. He nearly threw for 300 yards in the third quarter alone and began threatening the FBS single-game passing record of 716 yards during the third quarter.
There are going to be a million things to look back on. Blown coverages, missed catches. Dozens of shoulda-coulda-wouldas. The Cougars whiffed on a missed opportunity here. No other way to put it. WSU drops to 2-4 on the season, well off the pace they likely need to be to reach a bowl. The Cougars will now head on the road to face Stanford.