Grading WSU football games at the season’s half

Oct. 19—From soaring to No. 13 in the nation to enduring its most devastating defeat in a decade, the Washington State football season has already been a rollercoaster of highs and lows. As we reach the midpoint of the season, let’s take a game-by-game look at how the WSU Cougars (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12) have fared:

At Colorado State, 50-24 win: B

Putting up 50 points on the road and witnessing a breakout performance by beloved team captain Lincoln Victor (11 catches, 168 yards) was an encouraging start for a team with a dozen new starters and numerous new faces in key reserve positions. However, the Cougars did allow three touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

Vs. No. 19 Wisconsin, 31-22 win: A+

In this thrilling victory, sixth-year seniors Ron Stone Jr. and Brennan Jackson solidified their Cougar legacies with a pair of Stone strip-sacks and Jackson fumble recoveries, one resulting in a defensive touchdown. Since then, this particular play has become a staple in the compilation video that accompanies the song “Back Home” by Andy Grammer during the break between the first and second quarters—an enduring Gesa Field tradition.

Vs. Northern Colorado, 64-21 win: A

There isn’t much to dwell on here. The Cougars dominated a winless Big Sky school and provided several bench players with valuable playing time.

Vs. No. 14 Oregon State, 38-35 win: A+

The Cougars receive extra credit for flair in this victory. Wide receiver Josh Kelly pulled off two extraordinary one-handed catches and a 44-yard touchdown reception, in which he eluded about five Beavers defenders. WSU needed every single one of Kelly’s heroics to secure its second ranked win of the season and experience a second field-rushing moment in September.

At UCLA, 25-17 loss: C-

Kapena Gushiken’s 88-yard interception return for a touchdown deserves accolades, but this game marked the first disappointment of the season for WSU. The offense struggled to sustain drives, and the defense ran out of steam in the end. The only silver lining for the Cougars was that they only lost by eight points.

Vs. Arizona, 44-6 loss: D-

This game was equivalent to studying for the wrong exam. WSU was unprepared in every aspect of the game, except perhaps on special teams. The final margin of defeat was the most lopsided in Pullman since the 69-0 trouncing by USC in 2008. Talk about unfortunate timing for an off day.

Season as a whole: B+

Despite the recent setbacks, the Cougars have still exceeded expectations this year, given their performance in the first four games. With a young team and many new faces, WSU only needs to win two of their remaining six games to secure a spot in their eighth consecutive bowl game. This should be well within reach if the players can regain the confidence they had during their 4-0 start.

Contact Wiebe at (208) 848-2277 or [email protected], and follow him on Twitter @StephanSports.


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