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

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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

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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

Washington State leads Colorado at the half

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No. 22 Washington State holds a 17-14 lead over No. 10 Colorado at the half in Boulder.

Colorado struck first, stopping Washington State on the opening possession — the Buffs haven’t allowed a point this season on such drives — then moving 81 yards in 12 plays, culminating in a 9-yard Phillip Lindsay run.

Washington State added the next two scores — a 14-yard pass from Luke Falk to Robert Lewis and a 46-yard strike from Falk to Jamal Morrow — to hold a 14-7 lead through one quarter.

Colorado knotted the game midway through the second frame, a 3-yard dash by quarterback Sefo Liufau.

The Cougars see-sawed back in front on a 28-yard Erik Powell field goal, then survived a 1-yard punt late in the half when Davis Price sailed a field goal wide right with eight ticks left before the horn.

Falk closed the half hitting only 16-of-34 throws, but netting 248 yards and two touchdowns, while Liufau completed 14-of-25 throws for 183 yards.

Colorado holds a 103-64 rushing edge. The Buffs will receive to open the second half.

 

Wazzu loses WR River Cracraft to ACL tear

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Gabe Marks is now the Pac-12’s all-time leading pass-catcher, and he’s going to have to continue catching even more balls if Washington State is to continue its 8-game winning streak.

The Seattle Times has confirmed a fan site’s report that senior wide receiver River Cracraft will be lost for the season to a torn ACL.

The injury came toward the tail end of one of Cracraft’s best games. He caught nine passes for 87 yards and three touchdowns before leaving the Cougars’ 56-21 blowout of California with the injury.

In addition to having one of the most colorful names in college football, Cracraft teamed with Marks to provide one of the deadliest pass-catching duos in the sport. They’re the only pair in Pac-12 history to combine for 200 career catches.

Cracraft trailed Marks as the team’s leading receiver, but was a key cog in extending drives with numerous third down catches. He’ll close this season with 53 grabs for 701 yards and five touchdowns, and finish his career snatching 218 balls for 2,701 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Wazzu employs five other wide receivers with at least 16 catches but will have to make up for Cracraft’s, uh, craftiness in a hurry, as the 8-2 (7-0 Pac-12) Cougars conclude their improbable Pac-12 title hunt with Colorado and Washington.

UCLA offense nowhere to be found without Josh Rosen, WSU leads 10-0 at half

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UCLA is playing without quarterback Josh Rosen, who hurt his shoulder in a game last week against Arizona State. With Rosen out of action, the Bruins have been running the offense with Mike Fafaul. With Rosen out of the game, it has been up to the Bruins defense to keep this one within reach. Through one half, they have done that despite trailing Washington State by a score of 10-0 at the halftime break.

Washington State has been riding high the past few weeks with big wins against Stanford and Oregon, but the offense has been off the mark at times against the Bruins tonight. Luke Falk has passed for 125 yards but has struggled to get in a rhythm and has been picked off once. That interception came in the end zone (UCLA’s Jayon Brown came up with it). The only touchdown of the first half was scored by Gerard Wicks from the goal line for the Cougars.

UCLA’s offense has been locked down by Washington State as well. The Bruins have rushed for just 16 yards as a team, with Bolu Olorunfunmi leading the team with nine rushing yards on seven carries. UCLA is just one for six on third downs too.

The first half has been far from pretty, but fortunately, most people were probably too invested in a few other games going on at the same time (Ohio State and Wisconsin in overtime, for example). But we are now entering Pac-12 After dark territory, where anything can happen in the second half.