The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Newly ranked Cougs welcome Northern Colorado to the Palouse

Following a historic win, No. 23 Wazzu has one more tune-up before Pac-12
Dean Janikowski lines up an extra point attempt to maintain Cougs lead against Wisconsin, Sept. 9.

This is not the first time the Cougs have secured a momentous win over a ranked Wisconsin program. In fact, it happened just last season, and unfortunately, the momentum only lasted so long last time.

WSU now turns around to face FCS Northern Colorado (0-2) Saturday in a game many might view as a chance to tighten the screws before jumping into conference play. For the Cougs, however, this is much more than just a tune-up.

“Let’s make sure we’re setting a high standard,” head coach Jake Dickert said. “I think we do have a mature team and I think, you know after a big win, are you still hungry? Are you full? I know I’ve digested that win and I’m starving again. So [the team] needs to be the same way. That’s what good teams do. Like I said, this is another step in our journey and we need to make sure we take it that way.”

The message has resonated with the players. Attack this week like any other week, said wide receiver Kyle Williams.

“We just don’t think that we’re just gonna dog walk anybody. We approach it like it’s one of the biggest games of the season like it’s the Apple Cup, and that’s our mentality the whole season, and if we approach it like that then there’s no game we can lose,” Williams said.

UNC comes in off of two losses at the FCS level to Abilene Christian and Incarnate Word, quarterback Cam Ward’s previous school. The last time the Cougs and Bears faced off was in 2019, a 59-17 WSU win. 

The UNC offense has been led the past two weeks by quarterback Jacob Sirmon, a former four-star recruit who started his career at the University of Washington. The unit has only scored 11 and seven points in their first two contests of the year and is yet to convert a third down.

The defense for UNC is allowing 36.5 points per game, including 42 last week in the loss to IWU. It appears to be a great matchup for the WSU offense that is 34th in the country in points per game with 40.5, and 10th in passing yards per game at 358.5.

As the numbers show, the Cougs are heavily favored this week. To add to it, the Cougs following last week’s ranked victory jumped into the AP top-25 poll for the first time since 2019. The recognition is an honor, but not the end goal, Dickert said.

“We haven’t even talked about it,” Dickert said. “It is cool, it means a lot in recruiting, it shows the hard work that our guys are putting in the dark and to get recognized for that I do think is important. But, I want to be ranked at the end. That is the culmination of the journey.”

As the Cougs prepare for UNC this week, notable performances from receiver Lincoln Victor, edge Ron Stone Jr. and safety Jaden Hicks against Wisconsin gained national recognition.

Although favored, there is still plenty for the Cougs to work on this week. While there were no turnovers against Wisconsin, there were two wayward snaps, a lack of efficiency from the run game and a few apparent miscommunications. The Cougs have a chance not just for a win, but to take a huge step forward.

“I have a lot of respect for Northern Colorado. They’re building a program, first-year head coach, but it’s about us. The biggest opponent we face every week is challenging to be our best,” Dickert said. “We got a lot to get better at and we’re going to respect Northern Colorado to come in here and get the win and we gotta go show who we are and do it for 60 minutes.”

The pass rush was a strength for WSU last week, but unfortunately lost junior edge Quinn Roff to a shoulder injury for an undisclosed amount of time. Still, Roff has been taking the young guys under his wing and setting the standard, WSU edge coach Frank Maile said. 

To try and fill Roff’s gap, Maile expects backup edge rushers Raam Stevenson and Andrew Edson to step up this week. Also, true freshman edge Isaac Terrell will be getting his first shot at the college level this weekend, both Dickert and Maile said.

Last year, the win over a similarly ranked Wisconsin team was the “peak” of the Cougs season Dickert said. And with a Pac-12 conference featuring a nation-high eight ranked teams, the in-conference schedule will be a gauntlet. 

When the Cougs welcome UNC to Martin Stadium at 2 p.m. Saturday, more than just winning a game, the focus will be preparing for the long haul.

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About the Contributors
LUKE WESTFALL, Evergreen sports co-editor
Luke Westfall is a junior in Broadcast News from Custer, WA. He is an avid fanatic of the many sports at many levels who spends all his available time indulging in them. Luke began working at the Evergreen in Spring 2022.
BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be the Editor-in-chief starting in summer 2023 and served in the position from May 2023 to February 2024 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.