WSU (5-4, 2-4 in Pac-12) scored a touchdown on each of its first three possessions, taking a 21-0 lead and never looking back. When Stanford (3-6, 1-6) did have the ball, they could barely hang on to it — the Cardinal fumbled four times in the first half, one of which was scooped up and scored by the Cougar defense.
With five wins under their belt, the Cougars now just sit one win away from securing bowl eligibility for the seventh straight full season.
WSU’s offense looked the best it had all year, gashing Stanford’s defense all day long and taking advantage of nearly every Cardinal mistake.
The Cougars were happy to get Nakia Watson back and he made his presence known immediately. On his first carry, Watson flew right by the Cardinal defense for a 65-yard dash all the way to the Stanford 13. Leyton Smithson capped off the game’s opening drive, diving into the end zone for a three-yard touchdown.
On the next Cougar possession, Cam Ward got his chance to chop down the Cardinal defense. Ward used his legs and his arm to push WSU in the red zone and scoring on a touchdown pass to Anderson Grover.
Stanford again couldn’t muster even a first down on the next possession and again, Ward punished the Cardinal defense. On the sixth play of the drive, Ward used his legs to motor into the end zone from 15 yards out to push the Cougar lead to 21-0 in just the first quarter.
On their third go, the Stanford offense finally got the ball moving. Elijah Higgins put the wheels in motion with a 31-yard catch and run. On second and goal from the one, Stanford brought in freshman quarterback Ashton Daniels to punch in his first collegiate score. After WSU’s first non-touchdown drive of the day, the Cardinal fumbled it right back to the Cougars near the end of the first quarter. A few punts later, Stanford again fumbled the football. The ball tumbled around for a few yards before landing into the hands of Jaden Hicks, who scooped it up and took it to the house for a touchdown.
The case of the butterfingers continued to spread around the Stanford offense. On the fourth play of the next drive, Stanford fumbled it away for a third time. The rejuvenated Cougar offense struck again. Taking advantage of the short field, the Cougars drove inside the Cardinal 10 and faced a fourth and short. The hard-count got the Cardinal to jump offsides. The penalty didn’t end up mattering as Ward fired a dart to Donovan Ollie for the touchdown, pushing the lead to 35-7.
For the fourth time in five possessions, the Cardinal coughed up the football on yet another fumble with just over a minute left in the half. The Cougars wasted no time in turning another butterfingers into a payday. Watson completed his stellar first half with a 41-yard touchdown run. He ended the day with 166 rushing yards.
Stanford ran the clock into the half before they could fumble again and WSU had their highest scoring game of the season in just the first half alone. The Cardinal wiped the grease off their gloves at halftime and took the first possession of the second half 74 yards on seven plays to make it a 42-14 ballgame. WSU tacked on a short field goal before the backups entered the game early in the fourth quarter.
John Mateer checked in and delivered a historic touchdown pass on his inaugural drive. The touchdown to Orion Peters secured WSU’s first ever 50+ point game against Stanford. WSU also eclipsed over 300 team rushing yards for the first time since 2006.
After getting through the gauntlet of the schedule against four teams ranked in the initial college football playoff poll, the Cougars are finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The offense looked much more in control with Watson back in the mix and facing the worst defense they’ve seen since the month of September.
The Cougars will look to carry the momentum back home as they welcome in the Arizona State Sun Devils next Saturday.