Vince Grippi’s Keys to the Game
What went right
For the first time since the Bill Doba era, the Cougars rushed for more than 200 yards – 221 in fact. That rushing game allowed them to control the clock, finishing with 39 minutes of possession. Washington State had drives that lasted 7:42, 5:52, 4:39 and 8:20. The last, which started late in the third quarter and finished in the fourth, resulted in Andrew Furney’s 37-yard field goal that pushed the Cougars’ lead to three scores at 24-7.
What went wrong
Not much. Even when Washington State wasn’t perfect, good things happened. Nico Grasu’s third-quarter kickoff, which was meant to be a squibber down the field, instead bounced off OSU’s Uani Unga and was recovered by Hallston Higgins. It was the Beavers’ first fumble of the year. The Cougars had four Saturday, but recovered two as the ball bounced their way. Which hasn’t happened much recently.
Aire Justin muffed a punt early in the second quarter that gave OSU the ball on the Cougars 24. WSU led, but it was only 7-0 and it looked like a perfect opportunity for the Cougars to cave. But the defense gave up just 6 yards, forcing a Justin Kahut 35-yard field- goal attempt. He missed. The offense took over, drove 80 yards in 12 plays and scored despite losing Tuel for the final two plays to a slight head injury.
No argument here. Tuel had his most complete game as a Cougar, coming through on third or fourth down eight times. He finished with a career-high 79 yards rushing and was 10-of-15 passing for 157 yards. It was the second straight game Tuel was held under 200 yards passing – he passed that mark in the first nine games – but it didn’t matter. “Jeff did a good job of staying one step ahead of them,” offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy said.