If this is how the Luke Falk era at Washington State University is going to go, Cougar fans have a lot to be excited about.
The redshirt freshman -- making his first start in place of injured starter Connor Halliday -- threw for 471 yards and five touchdowns as WSU upset Oregon State 39-32 on the road at Reser Stadium in Corvallis, Oregon.
To say Falk looked good would be the understatement of understatements. He looked absolutely masterful running Mike Leach's Air Raid, consistently finding open receivers to gash what had been a stout pass defense. He was 44-of-61 (72 percent) for 7.7 yards per attempt, the third highest mark against the Beavers this year (Stanford 9.6, USC 7.9).
His favorite target on the day was Tyler Baker, a transfer from Ole Miss who filled in ably for the injured River Cracraft at the Y receiver. Baker caught nine passes for 113 yards and a TD, while Vince Mayle was able to overcome some drops to post 143 yards and a TD on six catches, including an important first down on a screen as the Cougs were trying to salt the game away.
Falk had zero interceptions and threw his TDs to five different receivers.
"I thought he really did a good job," Leach said on the television broadcast postgame. "You know, he's a very calm guy, which I think rubs off on our unit, which I think was beneficial. ... I think it took a little bit of the panic and anxiety out of (replacing Connnor Halliday)."
Here's how it looked in chart form:
"I just wanted to go out there and give my best," Falk said on the television broadcast postgame. "Thought the team did a nice job. All cylinders of the game -- defense, special teams, offense -- just clicked today. You know, we're playing for Connor, so it was an emotional game, and I'm glad we came out on top."
The running game also did its part at times; Jamal Morrow rushed for 46 yards on nine attempts, good for a 5.1-yard average. In all, WSU posted a stellar 6.1 yards per play, the second most Oregon State had allowed all season (Stanford 6.7).
It wouldn't have been possible without a serviceable performance by the defense, and after some early jitters, Mike Breske's crew did enough.
Oregon State scored on its first drive in just four plays, starting with a deep pass from Sean Mannion to WSU transfer Rahmel Dockery. Mannion would end up throwing for 419 yards on 41 attempts, and the Beavers ended up moving the ball to the tune of 7.0 yards per play. But the defense often held tight in the red zone, forcing OSU into four field goal attempts, aided in large part by a pass rush that was able to sack Mannion four times.
"Our defense stepped up and did some good things," Leach said. "It was a good team win. I thought we competed well, really from beginning to end, other than maybe the first part of the game."