The Pac-12 North still goes through the Palouse.
Behind a record-setting day from quarterback Luke Falk, No. 25 Washington State held on to beat No. 21 Stanford 24-21 in a bizarre game that had a little bit of everything on a snowy afternoon in Pullman.
Falk threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns on the Cardinal’s stingy defense a week after getting benched in a loss, setting a new Pac-12 career record for passing yards in the process by moving past the 13,600 yard mark set by Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion. It’s the fifth conference record Falk has set this season in uniform for the Cougars and came in a win Wazzu desperately needed to remain in control of their division title hopes.
Just as impressive as the signal-caller’s performance was, so too was his team’s defense in containing Stanford running back Bryce Love. The Heisman Trophy candidate did break off a 52-yard touchdown by breaking tackles left and right but finished with only 69 yards on 16 carries. They also harassed and confused young quarterback K.J. Costello, who made the start but threw for only 105 yards and an interception on nine completions. At least he did run for a touchdown, bouncing a fumble to himself before taking the ball across the goal line.
The loss figures to knock Stanford out of the top 25 and seriously imperil their hopes to make it to the conference title game. While it is still possible they can reach the game in Santa Clara, they’ll need to beat No. 12 Washington at home next Friday and hope the Huskies (or somebody else) can deal Washington State some additional losses along the way.
That seems unlikely if the Cougars play the way they did in the adverse conditions on Senior Day in Pullman to move to 8-2 on the year and complete a perfect home campaign in 2017. We’ll see how the rest of the schedule plays out but it seems the pirate ship has been righted and Washington State is back in the mix to win the conference once again.