PULLMAN – The now 16th-ranked Cougars destroyed Nevada Saturday at Martin Stadium 45-7 to improve to 4-0 on the season. Washington State is winning its games by an average of 25.2 points, rank No. 29 nationally in scoring defense (18.5 ppg allowed) and No. 12 in scoring offense (43.8 ppg).
It wouldn’t be a Saturday without Luke Falk breaking more records and climbing another rung up the Pac-12’s all-time passing ladder. We recap the rest of the “Falk News” you may have missed from Saturday’s game and compile all of the leftover notes, quotes and nuggets from Martin Stadium.
Luke Falk continues to put the conference’s all-time greats on notice and worked his way up the charts on Saturday. Here’s a breakdown: Falk entered the day No. 5 all-time in career passing yards, but jumped USC’s Carson Palmer and Cal’s Jared Goff to move into third with 12,266. Falk threw five touchdown passes to move ahead of USC’s Matt Leinart and into third place with 103. Falk also moved past Palmer and UCLA’s Brett Hundley in total offense to take sole possession of fifth place (11,972 yards).
It’s Falk and another former walk-on who rank No. 1 and 2 among active FBS players in career touchdown passes. The WSU quarterback and Oklahoma standout Baker Mayfield both came into Saturday with 98, but Falk’s five TDs moved into sole possession of first place. Mayfield threw three TDs against Baylor, giving him 101.
Falk drew some postgame praise from a childhood friend, Nevada linebacker Korey Rush. Rush said this about the WSU signal-caller: “Luke Falk’s a great player. I’ve known him pretty much my whole life. We’ve played sports together – he’s from Logan, I’m from Salt Lake City. He’s a competitor, he’s going to make a lot of great plays for them.”
Only Jason Gesser has won more games in a Cougars uniform than Falk. Falk now has 22 wins, but it won’t be long before he catches Gesser, who won 24 times.
The Cougars are 4-0 to start the season for the first time since 2001. They’d have to win three more times to match the ‘01 Cougars’ 7-0 start, though.
Sunday morning, the Cougars moved up two places in the AP Top 25 rankings to No. 16. Had WSU jumped up one more spot, it would’ve matched the school’s best ranking since 2001. The Cougars entered the Holiday Bowl against Texas ranked No. 15 in the country that year.
Injured middle linebacker Peyton Pelluer, who’s reportedly out for the season with a foot fracture, didn’t suit up for the Cougars for the first time since redshirting as a true freshman. Pelluer had played in 41 consecutive games and started in 34 straight. The fifth-year senior spent the game in the coaches’ booth.
Jahad Woods made the first start of his college career, playing the Will linebacker spot. Isaac Dotson had started at Will three times this season, but moved over to Mike linebacker with Peyton Pelluer out.
Woods spoke about playing the Will vs. the Mike. “I came here as a Mike and they moved me to Will, I would say probably spring ball. I think I’m more comfortable at Will, but I can play both positions. Whatever the team needs me to do.”
It’s been a productive few weeks for WSU wideout Tavares Martin Jr., who caught four passes for 114 yards – his second straight 100-yard game. Martin Jr. has five touchdown catches in the last two games, which is the most in a two-game span by a WSU player since Gabe Marks had four against Arizona and one the next week against Stanford during the 2015 season.
Renard Bell’s been somewhat overshadowed by Martin Jr., but the redshirt freshman has also been stellar. He caught four passes for 113 yards –– the second time this year Bell has hit the century mark.
Brandon Arconado had the first reception of his career. It was a 16-yarder in the second quarter.
Washington State safety Robert Taylor had the first interception of his career, picking off Cornwell in the second half.
Nevada receiver Kaleb Fossum returned to Pullman for the first time since transferring from WSU this offseason, but didn’t play for the Cougars because of a knee injury. Fossum still caught up with most of his former teammates either before or after the game.
Former Alabama quarterback David Cornwell took his first FBS snaps since a 2016 game with the Crimson Tide. Cornwell replaced starter Kaymen Cureton in the second quarter and finished 13-of-25 with 97 yards and three interceptions. Said Cornwell about dusting off the cobwebs: “It was great, it was fun. You forget what it’s like to be on the field, just you and your guys playing ball.”
The Wolf Pack were held to their lowest point total of the season, but WSU coach Mike Leach is seeing improvement from the Mountain West program, which employs his one-time pupil, Matt Mumme, as offensive coordinator: “I think they’re getting better, I think they’ve got some speed out there. I think the battle’s always, can you get everybody on the same page? And you never do that perfectly and you get more consistent at it. But I think they really run some good things.”
Four WSU players made their debuts on Saturday afternoon. Those were Dominick Silvels (LB), Skyler Thomas (S), Josh Watson (RG) and Will Rodgers III (DL).
The Cougars are aiming for 24 turnovers this season. Two per game gives them a great chance at winning nine games, according to defensive coordinator Alex Grinch. The Cougars are on pace to do that, having forced 10 turnovers – five interceptions and five fumble recoveries – in just four games this year.
WSU debuted a new uniform combo against the Wolf Pack. One week after unveiling their “anthracite” jerseys, they paired the dark grey tops with white helmets and white pants.
Jamal Morrow lost the coin toss and fell to 19-7 all-time. The Cougars are also 19-7 with Morrow as the team captain.