Jamal Morrow

Associated Press

No. 11 Washington State too much for undermanned Oregon

1 Comment

Imagine reading this sentence as recently as, oh, 2014: an undefeated and top-15 Washington State team went to Eugene and beat an unranked Oregon by 23 points, and it was kind of an underwhelming performance. Such is life in the Pac-12 now, where Mike Leach‘s 11th-ranked Cougars cruised to a 33-10 win over an Oregon playing without its top two quarterbacks.

Washington State looked like it was going to cruise early. After forcing a turnover on downs inside Oregon territory to open the game, the Cougars grabbed the lead on its first snap of the game, a 41-yard strike from Luke Falk to Jamal Morrow.

From there, though, Oregon settled in. The defense forced three straight three-and-outs, and the offense mounted two straight scoring drives, a 20-yard Aidan Schneider field goal and then a 30-yard touchdown pass from third-string quarterback Braxton Burmeister to Jacob Breeland, giving the Ducks a 10-7 lead with 3:37 to play in the first quarter.

That would be the high point for Oregon’s offense, though, as the game proved to be too much, too soon for Burmeister. He finished the night 12-of-24 passing for 131 yards with the touchdown and two interceptions. Royce Freeman led Oregon (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12) with 62 yards on 12 carries.

Erik Powell gave Washington State a 13-10 halftime lead with two second quarter field goals, and Falk put some distance between the Cougars and Ducks with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Renard Ball on the opening drive of the second half.

Falk would fire a third touchdown pass in the fourth quarter and Powell would kick in one more field goal to provide the final score. Falk finished the night with a ho-hum 24-of-42 passing for 282 yards with the three scores and no interceptions. Gerard Wicks and James Williams combined to rush 18 times for 106 yards.

In its first trip outside Pullman this season, the win pushed Wazzu to 6-0 on the year (3-0 Pac-12) and 16-5 in conference play since the beginning of the 2015 season. That 16-5 mark includes a 3-0 record against Oregon, Wazzu’s first 3-game winning streak over the Ducks since 1982-84.

Depleted Oregon hanging tough with No. 11 Washington State

Associated Press
Leave a comment

Oregon is playing without its top two quarterbacks but not backing down, trailing Washington State 13-10 at the half in Eugene.

Oregon turned the ball over on downs in its own territory to open the game, and Washington State immediately capitalized with a 41-yard scoring strike from Luke Falk to Jamal Morrow.

The Ducks, though, rallied to take the lead with a 20-yard Aidan Schneider field goal and a 30-yard touchdown toss from third-stringer Braxton Burmeister to Jacob Breeland

Washington State regained the lead on a pair of Erik Powell field goals, a 25-yarder at the 11:54 mark of the second quarter and a 52-yard blast with 6:59 to play.

Oregon advanced the ball to the Wazzu 34 after falling behind 13-10, but Taj Griffin‘s 4th-and-1 run was short of the line to gain.

After starting hot, Falk completed the half hitting 14-of-22 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown, or 109 on 21 attempts after his first throw. Washington State hasn’t tried to run the ball, amassing 44 yards on 10 carries.

Burmeister is 9-of-14 for 59 yards and a touchdown with six carries for 24 yards. Royce Freeman leads all runners with 54 yards on eight totes.

Washington State will receive to open the second half.

Palouse Power: No. 16 Washington State upsets No. 5 USC to halt Trojans’ win streak at 13

Getty Images
7 Comments

Despite playing each other for decades in conference play, Washington State only managed to beat USC nine times over the years in a lopsided series. If the Cougars were to chalk up win No. 10, it wouldn’t be easy with a top five team coming to town and the Heisman Trophy favorite looking to do damage.

It wasn’t pretty at times, but Mike Leach‘s squad managed to get it done and set off a wild celebration on the Palouse late Friday night, pulling off the upset of No. 5 USC 30-27 and shaking up the Pac-12 and national title race in the process.

Though you would think it would be the Air Raid offense that propelled Wazzu into the win column, it was the Cougars’ defense that was the star of the show. Alex Grinch’s unit managed to contain USC quarterback Sam Darnold better than anybody has in two seasons, limiting the potential No. 1 pick to just 164 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. Oh, and he was forced into fumbling to seal the victory as well.

Of course, it didn’t help that USC lost three of their starting offensive linemen (and were down another coming in to the game) in the first half and were rather lackluster in the run game outside of a handful of plays — such as a Ronald Jones 86-yard touchdown.

While perhaps not the sharpest outing for Cougars quarterback Luke Falk, it was a record-setting one as he moved into second place in Pac-12 history for career passing touchdowns (105) and took the top spot for career completions. All told, the signal-caller finished the night with 340 yards, two scores and an interception despite facing a ton of pressure on every drop back (five sacks). His backfield-mate Jamal Morrow stepped up with a quality performance as well, rushing for 91 yards and a touchdown while catching five passes for 47 yards and another score.

In doing so, the combo played a huge role in capturing one of the biggest victories for Washington State in years and possibly make them the team to beat in the Pac-12 title race ahead of the highly anticipated Apple Cup. Leach has done a terrific job transforming the Cougars into a budding powerhouse and the team finally has that signature victory to hang their hat on after a perfect 10 on Friday night.

No. 20 Washington State scores bizarre win over Boise State in triple OT

Getty Images
3 Comments

Strange games and Mike Leach seem to go hand-in-hand but even he would have to admit that what happened Saturday night on the Palouse was bizarre even to him.

That No. 20 Washington State went to overtime against regional rivals Boise State is not exactly surprising as each are pretty evenly matched teams and they played a close thriller last year. That the Broncos were even in a position to win the game was the result of 21 straight points in the third quarter using an, ahem, Kansas transfer Montell Cozart at quarterback was a bid odd though. So it was probably appropriate (and equally bizarre) therefore, that the Cougars used their own 21 point run to tie the game, force free football and eventually secure a 47-44 triple overtime victory in a manner only possible well after midnight has rolled around across most of the country.

Hey, it was one of those games.

Cozart was in the game as part of the team’s normal rotation but took over full-time after Broncos’ starter Brett Rypien (7/8, 76 yards pre-injury) was knocked out with a concussion. He returned in street clothes after halftime while his understudy returned to lead the team’s charge, rushing for one touchdown from 14 yards out and then hitting a 47 yard bomb for another score to finish the game with nearly 300 yards of total offense off the bench.

Leach and the Cougars understand what it’s like to send in the backup too, although the first time the team went to second string QB Tyler Hilinski it was a head coach’s decision after starter Luke Falk was simply ineffective. The second time came after Falk was slammed to the turf and injured, though the senior managed to set the school record for passing yardage before doing so.

But to get back to things being strange in this one, both backup signal-callers managed to score for both themselves — and the opponent — in the fourth quarter. Hilinski’s error came on an attempted (and ill-advised) shuttle pass that was returned by BSU’s Curtis Weaver 55 yards the other way. As if to one-up his opposite number, Cozart came right back and threw a pick-six off a shuttle/flip pass that wound up in the hands of linebacker Peyton Pelluer all the way to the end zone.

But let’s take it to another level with the Broncos leading by a touchdown. That’s when they forced a stop and appeared to get the ball back with a tad less than three minutes to go to try to ice the game. But of course the ball hit a Boise punt returner and Wazzu recovered in the red zone, setting up a game-tying score four plays later. File it under #Pac12AfterDark or just plain weird football but it certainly was something late into the night of a wild day in college football.

And that’s not even getting into overtime.

Eventually Hilinski dumped it off to Jamal Morrow for a 22 yard touchdown in the final extra frame, a play that included the tailback soaring over the pylon to score the game-winner. It was a fitting ending to a game full of moments that only college football could produce.

The Cougars and their pirate-loving head coach will wake up Sunday with their team likely remaining in the top 20 of the polls but certainly capable of making more noise out West in the wild Pac-12. And, oh yeah, plenty of weirdness.

Doak Walker Award watch list highlighted by 2016 semifinalists Barkley and Pettway

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images
1 Comment

A watch list of the top running backs in the nation has been released by the PwC SMU Athletic Forum on Thursday. The Doak Walker Award watch list is full of great players, including 2016 Doak Walker Award semifinalists Saquon Barkley (Penn State) and Kamryn Pettway (Auburn).

Among those included on this year’s initial Doak Walker Award watch list (more players can be added at any time) are LSU’s Derrius Guice, Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, LJ Scott of Michigan State, Mike Weber of Ohio State, and Bo Scarbrough of Alabama, Washington’s Myles Gaskin, and Western Michigan’s Jarvion Franklin.

D’Onta Foreman of Texas beat out both Barkley and Pettway last season for the award. The Doak Walker Award has been presented to the nation’s top running back annually since 1990. Among the winners over the years have included Ricky Williams, LaDainian Tomlinson, Reggie Bush, and Montee Ball.

To be included on this watch list, the university athletic department must submit a nomination.

2017 Doak Walker Award Watch List

Josh Adams, Notre Dame
Ryquell Armstead, Temple
Kalen Ballage, Arizona State
Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Alex Barnes, Kansas State
Jamauri Bogan, Western Michigan
D’Angelo Brewer, Tulsa
Nick Chubb, Georgia
Jordan Chunn, Troy
Justin Crawford, West Virginia
Damarea Crockett, Missouri
Rico Dowdle, South Carolina
D’Andre Ferby, WKU
Kendrick Foster, Illinois
Jarvion Franklin, Western Michigan
Myles Gaskin, Washington
James Gilbert, Ball State
Derrius Guice, LSU
Damien Harris, Alabama
Kyle Hicks, TCU
Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
Jon Hilliman, Boston College
Justin Jackson, Northwestern
Chris James, Wisconsin
Ty Johnson, Maryland
Ronald Jones II, USC
Ray Lawry, Old Dominion
Phillip Lindsay, Colorado
Tonny Lindsey Jr., Utah State
Bryce Love, Stanford
Sony Michel, Georgia
Dedrick Mills, Georgia Tech
David Montgomery, Iowa State
Jamal Morrow, Washington State
Ryan Nall, Oregon State
Jacques Patrick, Florida State
Kamryn Pettway, Auburn
Demario Richard, Arizona State
Diocemy Saint Juste, Hawaii
Bo Scarbrough, Alabama
Jordan Scarlett, Florida
LJ Scott, Michigan State
Bradrick Shaw, Wisconsin
Armand Shyne, Utah
Justin Silmon, Kansas State
Ito Smith, Southern Miss
Rodney Smith, Minnesota
Benny Snell Jr., Kentucky
Terry Swanson, Toledo
Shaq Vann, Eastern Michigan
Akrum Wadley, Iowa
Mark Walton, Miami
Warren Wand, Arkansas State
Tre Watson, California
Ralph Webb, Vanderbilt
Mike Weber, Ohio State
Braeden West, SMU
Devwah Whaley, Arkansas
Aeris Williams, Mississippi State
Shaun Wilson, Duke
Marquis Young, Massachusetts