Posts tagged: Friday Flashback
Merrily, the 2013 Cougars rolled through their first four games, emerging from the season's first chunk of games 3-1 with a surprising win over. Mike Leach's offense had started to match the hype, putting up 90 points in wins over Southern Utah and Idaho after some early hiccups.
But Washington State fans expected to score points – Leach had had been received in Pullman as an offensive rainmaker, and not a cheap one. The welcome surprise was the Cougars defense that had given up just 17 total points in the previous three games, including a single touchdown on the road at No. 25 USC.
The WSU Football team was rolling, on a three-game winning streak and with one of its tougher conference games already happily in the rearview mirror. Not even running into the wall of muscle and discipline that is the Stanford football team could put a damper Cougar fans' spirits, or so they thought.
If you thought 2013 was fun, you should have seen 2003.
You can tell things are getting better for the Washington State football program because the Cougars are starting to do things that haven't been done since the halcyon days of 2003, when Marcus Trufant was young, Oregon and Stanford were gimmes and the streets of Pullman were paved with Cougar Gold.
That year was the last time the team went to a bowl game until last season's trip to the New Mexico Bowl. It was also the last time the Cougars shut out an opponent, opening the season with a 25-0 victory over sometimes rival Idaho.
Well, if Cougars fans started to get a sense of déjà vu while watching the Cougars last season the nostalgia likely began in the team's fourth game, when WSU sent those same Vandals home with nary a point to show for their pillaging.
Flash back to WSU's 48-0 beat down of Idaho, after the jump.
Where to start with this one? When Washington State upended USC a week before the Southern Utah game, it effectively guaranteed a 3-1 start to the season. Following tough road games at Auburn and USC, the Cougars finished out the first third of their schedule with gimmes against Southern Utah and Idaho.
The Cougars were expected to win this one, their home opener, and win big. So they did, pretty easily. The offense piled up some impressive statistics, but it was the defense that turned some heads, allowing just one touchdown for the second consecutive week.
Follow the jump to find out what happened.
(Cornerback Damante Horton had a pair of picks in WSU's 10-7 upset of USC)
The Cougars may have played better than expected in their season-opening loss at Auburn, but they were still 0-1 as most analysts had predicted they would be. As if Washington State's foray into SEC country wasn't daunting enough, the next test for the Cougars was No. 25 USC at Memorial Coliseum, a venue they had not won in since 2000 against a team they last beat in 2002.
But there were signs that Troy was ready to tumble. Los Angeles partisans were growing weary of coach Lane Kiffin's style over substance approach and the coach faced enormous pressure to produce despite heading into the season with two mediocre options at quarterback (spoiler alert: he didn't).
Injuries had necessitated that true freshman cornerback Daquawn Brown play with the No. 1 defense the week leading up to the game and he had played well enough to give them confidence he would succeed in his hometown return (he did).
And WSU's passing defense had just held Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall to 99 passing yards on the road. If the defensive backs could summon another monster performance against quarterbacks Cody Kessler and Max Wittek, then maybe they could keep the score close enough to stay in reach of the upset (yep).
More on WSU's game at USC is after the jump.
It was the first game of Washington State's best season in a decade, it was nearly the Cougars' most improbable upset, in hindsight, in at least that long. Auburn played in the BCS championship game last season, but its breathtaking run was almost undone from the start at home by an upstart team from the country's northwestern corner.
The muggy affair was a game of superlatives. Jeremiah Laufasa – since transferred to UTEP for want of a scholarship – scored two touchdowns. Auburn's Corey Grant rushed for 146 yards – twice as much as teammate Tre Mason, who was drafted 75th overall in the NFL draft.
Instead, Mason's impact was felt on a 100-yard second quarter kickoff return for a touchdown.
The WSU defense held Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall to 99 passing yards and just 10 completions in 19 attempts. Cougar counterpart Connor Halliday said afterward that, “If (Auburn) had a quarterback they'd be a top five team. They just don't have a guy that can throw it.”
They were bold words coming from Halliday, who threw three interceptions in the 31-24 loss, but they were prescient. Marshall was better after that first game and Auburn finished second in the AP rankings after a close loss to Florida State in the last championship game of the BCS era.
Follow the jump for more on WSU's 2013 season opener.