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Great (and not so great) moments in WSU vs. Utah history

Remember the zombies?

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WSU offensive line
They're not thrilled.
Screen Grab

I don't know why, or where I was, but this past summer I was going through the 2017 WSU schedule and thinking of past games with each team. The first one I thought of was the aftermath of the 2012 game in Salt Lake City, for some reason.

You know the one.

That was the, shall we say, inspiration for this weekly feature. Yes, I am a masochist.

WSU is 7-7 all-time in games against Utah. They've won the past two but haven't played the Utes since 2014.

Let's flip things around and get the hard part out of the way.

Not so great :(

Nov. 3, 2012: Utah 49 WSU 6

Let's start at the end, and I don't mean the meaningless touchdown Kristoff Williams hauled in on the last play of the game.

I'm talking about the post-game scene: Mike Leach tearing into his team, especially his offensive line, calling them zombies. He then trotted out his offensive and defensive lines to meet the media as if it was some kind of public stoning. Travis Long bailed before the end of his group's session, and I don't blame him one bit.

This was definitely the lowest point of that dreadful season. Things didn't get any better, either: Marquess Wilson stormed out of practice the next week, then accused the coaches of abuse (before recanting in a text message to Bill Moos).

Fans were shocked at what they witnessed: a coach publicly humiliating his team in such a manner. Leach did start his press conference saying, "It starts with our coaches. Our coaches, starting with me and starting with the assistants, we have to be able to reach our players and get a good effort."

But that comment was overshadowed, and it was Leach's own doing.

Oh yeah, the Cougs allowed the second half kickoff to be returned 100 yards for a touchdown, and saw John White rush for 108 yards and two touchdowns.

And try not to laugh reading this sentence in WSU's own recap, emphasis mine: "Utah held a 453-255 advantage in total yards, limiting the nation's 120th-ranked rushing attack to minus-4 yards."

Nov. 19, 2011: Utah 30 WSU 27 (OT)

This game had it all:

  • Controversial call? Check.
  • Lacerated liver? Check.
  • Snow globe? Check.
  • Touchdown pass by a receiver? Check.

Marquess Wilson caught a pass from a somehow still alive Connor Halliday on the goal line with 18 seconds left, down by three. The officials ruled he was short, and that will always be up for debate.

Since he was ruled down short of the goal line, the clock continued to roll, and the Cougs had to hurry and spike the ball. Andrew Furney then sent the game to overtime, where Halliday threw his fourth interception of the night on WSU's possession to open the extra frame.

Utah then kicked a field goal for the win.

This was a tough loss, because it seemed like Wilson's catch won it. Halliday then went to the hospital to basically be brought back to life.

That receiver touchdown pass? That was on a reverse where Kristoff Williams threw 47 yards to Bobby Ratliff.

This game ended WSU's bowl hopes for that season, which was a requirement for Paul Wulff to keep his job. But Bill Moos had already sent his spy named Joe Giansante to find Mike Leach by the time this game rolled around. Read The System if you don't know what I'm talking about.


Nov. 23, 2013: WSU 49 Utah 37

Utah v Washington State Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

Bowl eligible, baby!

It had been ten years since WSU had been to a bowl game. Coug fans like me sat down at the beginning of each season searching for six wins on the schedule and oftentimes had a hard time coming up with five.

Coming off a good win at Arizona, the Cougs had two games to win at least one to secure a bowl berth. They got 488 yards and four touchdowns from Connor Halliday, not to mention a pair of pick-sixes, one each by Damante Horton and Casey Locker.

Utah was starting Adam Schulz at quarterback due to an injury to Travis Wilson. Schulz was a former walk-on.

The Cougs held a 43-37 lead late when Halliday Connected with Dom Williams for a memorable 71-yard touchdown catch and run. That TD all but clinched the game and we all knew we were going bowling.

Let's not talk about that bowl game, though.

September 27, 2014: WSU 28 Utah 27

The Cougs looked like they were toast before this game really got off the ground. Utah scored on a pick-six, a 58-yard punt return and a 76-yard run by former Coug commit Devontae Booker to take an early 21-0 lead.

But Connor Halliday was nails in the second half. Halliday threw two touchdowns on fourth down—one a 20-yarder to Dom Williams on fourth-and-14 and another one to Williams from 35 yards on a fourth-and-9.

And then there was the clincher: an 81-yard catch-and-run to Vince Mayle that featured a sweet block from freshman Robert Lewis.

The Cougs definitely stole this one.

Dec. 29, 1992: WSU 31 Utah 28

This is among the best seasons in WSU football history, and it ended with a win over the Utes in the Copper Bowl.

The Cougs had a commanding 21-0 lead after the first quarter. Drew Bledsoe connected with Phillip Bobo for an 87-yard touchdown pass. The two would connect again for a 48-yard touchdown pass prior to halftime.

Aaron Price kicked a 22-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to give WSU a lead it would not give up.

Bledsoe and Bobo were named co-offensive MVPs.

Fun fact: Mike Leach is 1-0 at the Insight Bowl. His Texas Tech Red Raiders beat Minnesota thanks to a massive comeback. Current Director of Football Operations Antonio Huffman was the defensive MVP, while former assistant Graham Harrell was the offensive MVP.

For those wondering (I was), the Copper Bowl became the Bowl, then just the Insight Bowl, then the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, and it is now the Cactus Bowl.