Gardner Minshew threw an interception on No. 25 Washington State’s first drive of the game against No. 12 Oregon, leading many in the frenzied crowd at Martin Stadium to wonder if the team had Coug’d it before they even could get going. As it turns out, there was nowhere to go but up on a wild day-turned-night on the Palouse.
Wazzu wound up getting back on track in a big way, bouncing back to the tune of a 27-0 lead at halftime and a growing national profile in the process as they look to take control of the Pac-12 North.
Minshew, the mustache-sporting grad transfer behind center, finished the half with 231 yards and three touchdowns on 36 attempts — one of which was a dime to Easop Winston just before the end of the second quarter that officially signaled upset alert. As is typical of Mike Leach’s Air Raid, the ball was spread around quite a bit to the tune of nine different receivers with a catch, including two tailbacks in James Williams and Max Borghi with six apiece.
The Cougars even got the ground game going, with Williams managing to break out of at least six tackles for a 24 yard scamper to the end zone that included him tight rope-walking along the sideline before diving past the pylon.
As a result of all that, Oregon QB Justin Herbert hardly looked like the guy many were touting as the top draft pick in the spring as he failed to develop much consistency on any of the team’s drives and finished just 4-of-11 for 36 yards in the half. Running back CJ Verdell did have 17 yards rushing but it was other wise four straight three-and-outs for the offense to open the game and go into the locker room in search of answers.
This game is far from other when you factor in both #Pac12AfterDark vibes and Leach’s penchant for throwing the ball at all costs so there’s still plenty of intrigue going on in Pullman. After a rough start though, the Cougars have to be feeling good about the direction the team is taking as their Pac-12 rivals suddenly find themselves in a deep hole with quite the fight on their hands.