Sun., Sept. 8, 2013
Tale of the tape: WSU 10, USC 7
FROM LOS ANGELES -- It will be a happy flight home for WSU, which pulled off a 10-7 upset of No. 25 Southern California at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday night. We have our usual tale of the tape below.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME -- It's hard to choose one, given that each team's defense kind of dominated this one. But it will go to Tre Madden, the USC freshman running back who took 32 carries for 151 yards, and was more or less the Trojan's only source of offensive production. Compare his 151 yards to USC's 193 yards of total offense as a team, and ... yeah.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME -- A few candidates, certainly, but none stands out more than Damante Horton, whose 70-yard interception return provided the Cougars their only touchdown. And his interception of Max Wittek in the game's final minutes gave WSU the ball back for the final time, and the Cougars' offense was able to ice the game and claim victory in a stadium it rarely does.
PLAY OF THE GAME -- Again, there are only a handful from which to choose. But the biggest was probably Dom Williams' 49-yard catch and run on third down, the play that set up Andrew Furney's eventual go-ahead -- and game-winning -- field goal with 3:03 to play. Quarterback Connor Halliday said USC had presented a defensive look all game that suggested they should throw that screen pass, and Williams had to break a tackle behind the first-down marker to make it happen. He did, and wasn't tackled until he had made it to USC's 30-yard line, the one big play WSU needed to give itself a chance to win this thing.
STAT OF THE GAME -- How about this: USC finished with just 54 yards passing, the second consecutive game in which WSU's opponent has failed to crack triple-digits in that category.
QUOTABLE -- "“There’s a lot of ghosts in this stadium and it’s an exciting place to play. You’re talking about a school that’s got Twitter account numbers next to their two-deep.” -- WSU coach Mike Leach
WHAT IT MEANS -- That WSU is learning how to win. USC didn't play like a top 25 team -- usually, you have to possess a functioning quarterback to qualify -- but the Cougars had plenty to do with that. Their defense was stout, even as the Trojans tried chipping away with Tre Madden, who wound up carrying the ball 32 times for 151 yards. But WSU stood its ground and also allowed receiver Marqise Lee virtually nothing. There were no explosive plays allowed. Even as the Cougars' offense sputtered and stalled, Daquawn Brown, Damante Horton and company made enough plays to give WSU a chance to win. That it came up with what it needed speaks volumes about the growth this team has experienced since last season. And all of a sudden, a goal of six or seven wins doesn't seem so far-fetched.
Christian Caple can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ChristianCaple