Cougs get blown out by Washington

After winning eight games in a row this season, WSU football crashed and burned in its final two regular-season games, falling to No. 9 Colorado on Nov. 19 by a score of 38-24 and to No. 4 Washington 45-17 in the Apple Cup on Friday.

It was a disappointing day for the Cougars (8-4, 7-2) as they watched their hopes for a Pac-12 title fade away as the Huskies marched up and down the field, all but silencing a potent WSU offense.

Sophomore quarterback Jake Browning led the Huskies with 292 passing yards and was able to pick apart a WSU defense that looked nearly panicked after some early trick plays got the Huskies in a rhythm.

The Cougars’ highly-touted offense was stonewalled by the Washington defense in the red zone. Two possessions inside the 5-yard line led to no WSU points and a solid drive at the end of the first half was cut short by an interception in the end zone.

“If you can’t get one yard and score a touchdown three times in a row in one game, you don’t deserve to win,” redshirt senior wide receiver Gabe Marks said.

Between red-zone inefficiency and a minus-three turnover margin, the Cougars fell too far behind to catch up. Fans and media alike have said for most of the year that a slow start similar to the Oregon State and Arizona State games would be insurmountable against a top team like Washington, and those theories were proven correct.

After a 28-3 first quarter, the Cougars showed intermittent signs of life but could not string together enough drives to compete.

The Cougars had some decent performances including Marks’ 11-catch, 112-yard day through the air and a few explosive plays in the kick and punt return game. Redshirt junior running back Jamal Morrow brought a 64-yard punt return within feet of the goal line only for the offense to come up empty.

The WSU defense struggled Friday as it surrendered 45 points and could not slow down the Huskey’s numerous threats. After a brutal first quarter, the defense seemed disjointed and struggled to make necessary tackles, which lead to UW averaging nearly eight yards per play.

“(As UW pulled away) I thought we started pressing, and I thought we started doing too much,” Head Coach Mike Leach said. “I think as coaches we’ve got to get that out of (the players).”

While Washington generally had its way, the Cougar defense made a stand coming out of the half, as it allowed just 13 yards in the third quarter. It provided short-lived hope for the Cougars that was doused with the lack of offensive success throughout the quarter.

The lack of success continued into the fourth when the game was all but over. Washington was able to keep the ball for 13 minutes in the final quarter of play and looked to boost its playoff résumé by taking numerous shots to the end zone.

Overall, WSU failed to meet expectations, as the spread for the game was Washington favored by six points. A failure to convert goal-line opportunities and a few turnovers in key situations would be the ultimate nail in the Cougars’ coffin. Once UW got out to a big lead early, hope seemed to drain out of the stadium with each passing snap and it seemed that the game was all but over after the half-ending interception.

“Any loss to a team hurts, especially to a team like that, but we did it to ourselves today,” said redshirt junior offensive lineman Cole Madison.

The Cougars will have to improve on both sides of the ball to rebound in their bowl game next month. It could be any number of dates in any number of locations but, either way, it will likely take a stronger performance than Friday’s to win.