The Tyler Hilinski era is getting started earlier than anybody at No. 18 Washington State wanted and as a result the team trails No. 16 Michigan State 21-3 at halftime of the Holiday Bowl.
The Cougars backup quarterback made his first start on Thursday night in place of record-setting signal-caller Luke Falk, whose career on the Palouse is over after injuring his wrist in the Apple Cup and being unable to recover in time for the team’s bowl appearance. The 6-foot-3 sophomore has made several appearances this season already so he isn’t totally inexperienced running Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense but he didn’t seem to quite live up to the stage with 72 yards passing on 22 attempts as WSU had four three-and-outs in the half.
On the flip side, Spartans starter Brian Lewerke looked like he was the one running a wide-open spread offense instead of the typical look you get from the team. He was sharp throughout the first two quarters and finished with 163 yards and a pair of touchdowns, one of which was a perfect throw to the back of the end zone that was hauled in by Cody White and the other off a terrific fake that left Felton Davis wide open for a 49-yarder.
Washington State is no stranger to having some crazy comebacks this season but they’ll need more out of their new starter if the want to make things happen against a Michigan State squad well on their way to hitting the double-digit win mark once again.