For the first time since 2003, the Washington State Cougars have finished the season ranked and in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll, coming in right at No. 10 in the final ballot.
The Cougs improved to 11-2 in the Alamo Bowl, defeating the Iowa St. Cyclones 28-26, and that — combined with a couple of losses in front of them — was enough to propel them up two spots.
WSU finishes as the highest-ranked Pac-12 team; the only other conference foe ranked in the top 25 is the Washington Huskies, which finished the season ranked No. 13 after dropping to 10-4 after losing the Rose Bowl to the Ohio State Buckeyes. It’s the first time in WSU’s history that the Cougars have finished the year as the Pac-12’s highest-ranked team.
Although WSU had been ranked during each of the past four seasons under Mike Leach, this is the first time the Cougars have finished in the top 25 in his tenure. The last time it happened was 2003, which also was the last time they finished in the top 10 — WSU finished No. 9 that year after beating the then-No. 5 Texas Longhorns in the Holiday Bowl.
The 11 wins was the most in program history, and it’s the 12th time overall that WSU finished the season ranked.
The Stanford Cardinal, Utah Utes and Oregon Ducks each also received votes.
AP Poll - 2018 Final
The final coaches poll has not yet been released.
The Cougars also will likely begin next season ranked, which would be the second time in Leach’s tenure — no other WSU coach has ever done that. Although the losses on both sides of the ball are not insignificant — with special attention paid to graduations of Gardner Minshew II and Peyton Pelluer — there is confidence that a bunch of talent is returning and that Leach will be able to find a productive quarterback.