Winning changes everything

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WSU junior running back Marcus Mason carries the ball during a game against the Wildcats in Arizona Stadium, Saturday, Nov. 16.  Mason rushed for 63 and a touchdown on the day in the Cougars’ 24-17 victory.

Amid all the attention surrounding the infamous sports editor for The Daily Wildcat, WSU is at a point in the season that most of the current students have yet to witness.

Most seniors by now would have entered WSU in 2010 and the last time WSU had five wins in one season and three conference wins was 2007. The last bowl game the Cougars were in was the Holiday Bowl in 2003 against Texas.

With 100 yards in the first quarter on the ground and a 15-yard rushing touchdown from Marcus Mason, the Cougars are doing things differently this time around.

It is amazing how one win can change the atmosphere and mindset of a football team and its fan base. After a 4-2 start to the season bowl games were high and many believed the team should have beaten Auburn, who is now ranked No. 7 in the nation.

However, the schedule and poor play from the Cougars made it appear as if they just weren’t quite ready to take their game to the next level. A three game losing-streak against Oregon State, Oregon and Arizona State made many rethink their predictions of going to a bowl game.

Throughout this season fans were frustrated with Connor Halliday, the coaching staff, the offensive line, and the defense.

The Arizona win rejuvenated the team and brought a glimmer of hope back to Pullman. Around here it doesn’t take much more than that to get Cougar fans amped up.

Think back to last season, which was Mike Leach’s first stint with the program when prior to the Apple Cup the Cougars held a record of 2-9. Irrational fans wanted Leach gone already and others believed it was a failed season.

That all changed when WSU upset the Huskies in overtime.

This Arizona game is more or less the same way. A win against Arizona made fans forget about the last three games and made them realize the Cougars are one away from achieving bowl eligibility.

It reminded everyone that they deserved to be 4-2 in the beginning of the year, but the schedule was something no one chose to factor in.

“Well I think there has to be an account of our schedule. If it was so easy to beat Oregon everybody would; if it was so easy to beat Stanford everybody would; if it was so easy to beat Arizona State everybody would,” Leach said after defeating the Wildcats.

When you take a look at the upcoming opponents, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. No other game has been more important game than these two coming up for Washington State: Utah this Saturday and then the season finale against Washington in the Apple Cup.

Utah is a fantastic team at home, but has yet to win a conference game on the road. Also, their star quarterback Travis Wilson is out for the rest of the season.

With UW, Keith Price has not been ruled out of this week’s game, but his status is unknown and could affect his play when WSU goes into Seattle. It is almost as if the college football gods are looking out for the Crimson and Gray.

Although these next games are not guaranteed, the matchups are looking more favorable by the day and it appears as if a bowl game birth is on the horizon.