Cougs gun down Cal

On a day filled with upsets in college football, No. 23 WSU debunked the nationwide trend and steamrolled the visiting California Golden Bears 56-21.

With the win over Cal (4-6, 2-5) and a Washington loss, WSU (8-2, 7-0) takes sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 North Division and is 7-0 in conference play for the first time since 1930.

The scoring effort was led by wide receivers senior River Cracraft and redshirt senior Gabe Marks, who combined for five touchdowns with Cracraft hauling in three and Marks two. One of Marks’ touchdowns marked the 295th reception of his career, making him the Pac-12’s all-time leader in pass receptions.

“I knew (the record) was going to happen, but I wanted to do it here,” Marks said.

Marks set the record Saturday night, but his counterpart, Cracraft, left the game with leg injury at the end of the third quarter. reported Saturday that Cracraft suffered a torn ACL and will be out for the remainder of the season, ending his career at WSU.

WSU started strong on both ends, forcing a three-and-out on the Golden Bears’ opening drive, and took the ensuing punt for a touchdown to jump out to an early 7-0 lead.

Sophomore wide receiver Kaleb Fossum also made a mark in WSU football history on the play, becoming the first WSU player to return a punt for a touchdown since 2005.

“Credit to the other 10 guys on the field,” Fossum said. “I just kinda ran straight, they blocked their butts off and gave me a huge lane.”

From that point, WSU seemed to take control of the game and quickly built a three-score lead the Cougs never relinquished. The Cougars took a 28-7 lead into the break and cruised from there.

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WSU scored four more touchdowns in the second half, allowing Cal only two more and holding the Golden Bears to their lowest point total of the season.

The Cougars’ defense made important stands multiple times throughout the game, including an interception in their own end zone late in the first half to keep the lead at two touchdowns and give the offense another chance to score with less than four minutes left in the half.

Statistically, WSU’s biggest advantage in the game was the rushing attack. California outgained the Cougars through the air, but a 254-yard rushing performance from the WSU running backs helped the team separate itself from the Golden Bears.

WSU averaged 8.3 yards on 31 carries and was led by redshirt junior Gerard Wicks, who ran for 123 yards on eight attempts.

Wicks credited the offensive line and a “take what they give you” mentality for the explosive running game.

Cal’s passing game was led by a six-catch, 141-yard performance from freshman wide receiver Demetris Robertson and an 11-catch, 139-yard performance from redshirt junior wide receiver Chad Hansen. Robertson and Hansen accounted for more than half of the Golden Bears’ total offensive yardage and a third of their total points scored.

Despite moving into first place in the division, WSU Head Coach Mike Leach made it clear that the team remains focused on the upcoming game at Colorado and not the Apple Cup on Nov. 25.

Regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s game against No. 12 Colorado (8-2, 6-1), WSU is guaranteed to play for the Pac-12 Championship with a win over No. 7 Washington.

Saturday’s game against the Buffaloes is set for 12:30 p.m. and will be broadcast nationally on FOX.