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Blanchette: Washington State’s bowl games, ranked from best to worst

WSU’s Marty Northcroft (96) celebrates the Cougs victory over Baylor in the Alamo Bowlm Saturday, Dec. 31, 1994, in San Antonio. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
WSU’s Marty Northcroft (96) celebrates the Cougs victory over Baylor in the Alamo Bowlm Saturday, Dec. 31, 1994, in San Antonio. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

2003 Holiday Bowl

The Washington State Cougars celebrate winning the Holiday Bowl NCAA football game on Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2003 in San Diego. (Christopher Anderson / The Spokesman-Review)
The Washington State Cougars celebrate winning the Holiday Bowl NCAA football game on Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2003 in San Diego. (Christopher Anderson / The Spokesman-Review)

WSU 28, Texas 20: Not since the pre-odds days of the 1931 Rose Bowl have the Cougars been bigger underdogs in a bowl game – nine points. WSU took control with a 19-0 third quarter that started with a 54-yard touchdown pass from Matt Kegel to Sammy Moore and ended with Jason David’s score off a Texas fumble.

1916 Rose Bowl

WSU 14, Brown 0: The Bruins were 2-to-1 betting favorites despite three losses – a 3-0 win over Yale was their resume builder. With the field muddy from rain and snow (in Pasadena!), yardage came hard. Touchdowns by Ralph Boone and Carl Dietz were the diffence, along with a stand by the Cougar defense at its own 4-yard line.

1988 Aloha Bowl

Washington State’s Timm Rosenbach is sacked in the first quarter of Aloha Bowl on Dec. 25, 1988 in Honolulu. (Associated Press)
Washington State’s Timm Rosenbach is sacked in the first quarter of Aloha Bowl on Dec. 25, 1988 in Honolulu. (Associated Press)

WSU 24, Houston 22: Christmas in paradise was fraught with drama even once the Cougars reeled off 24 second-quarter points. After two touchdowns by Victor Wood – on a fumble pickup and a reception – and another by Timm Rosenbach, the WSU defense took over, intercepting two passes and forcing a deciding fumble.

2001 Sun Bowl

Washington State’s Raonall Smith expresses himself to the WSU faithful after sacking Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton in the first half of the Sun Bowl NCAA football game on Monday, Dec. 31, 2001 in El Paso, Texas. (Christopher Anderson / The Spokesman-Review)
Washington State’s Raonall Smith expresses himself to the WSU faithful after sacking Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton in the first half of the Sun Bowl NCAA football game on Monday, Dec. 31, 2001 in El Paso, Texas. (Christopher Anderson / The Spokesman-Review)

WSU 33, Purdue 27: Two early big plays – Jason David’s pick six and a Jason Gesser-to-Mike Bush 46-yard touchdown – and 16 straight second half points decided this one. Or rather, Raonall Smith did when he knocked down Kyle Orton’s 74th pass on fourth-and-2 in the closing seconds to preserve the win.

1998 Rose Bowl

Michigan defenders Dhani Jones and Juaquin Feazell trip up Washington State quarterback Ryan Leaf in the first quarter of the Rose Bowl NCAA football game on Thursday, Jan. 1, 1998 in Pasadena, Calif. (Craig Buck / The Spokesman-Review)
Michigan defenders Dhani Jones and Juaquin Feazell trip up Washington State quarterback Ryan Leaf in the first quarter of the Rose Bowl NCAA football game on Thursday, Jan. 1, 1998 in Pasadena, Calif. (Craig Buck / The Spokesman-Review)

Michigan 21, WSU 16: The Two-Seconds-That-Weren’t Bowl. Officials ruled Ryan Leaf didn’t get the ball spiked before time expired and the Cougs had one more shot from the Michigan 16-yard line to upset the top-ranked Wolverines in WSU’s first Rose Bowl appearance in 67 years. Charles Woodson’s pick of a Leaf pass in the red zone with WSU up 13-7 was a key moment.

1992 Copper Bowl

Washington State QB Drew Bledsoe threw for 476 yards in the 1992 Copper Bowl. (FILE / The Spokesman-Review)
Washington State QB Drew Bledsoe threw for 476 yards in the 1992 Copper Bowl. (FILE / The Spokesman-Review)

WSU 31, Utah 28: Would you believe 1,131 yards of total offense? Drew Bledsoe threw for 476, including two long touchdowns to Phillip Bobo, but in the end it came down to field goals – WSU’s Aaron Price making his from 22 yards for the winner, and Purdue’s Chris Yergensen duck-hooking a 20-yard chip shot to tie.

2015 Sun Bowl

Washington State’s Peyton Pelluer (47) celebrates after he intercepted a pass intended for Miami’s Rawshawn Scott (11) during the first half of the 2015 Hyundai Sun Bowl on Saturday, Dec 26, 2015, at Sun Bowl Stadium in El Paso, Texas. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Washington State’s Peyton Pelluer (47) celebrates after he intercepted a pass intended for Miami’s Rawshawn Scott (11) during the first half of the 2015 Hyundai Sun Bowl on Saturday, Dec 26, 2015, at Sun Bowl Stadium in El Paso, Texas. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

WSU 20, Miami 14: The most misnamed bowl of 2015 turned into a snowy slog. Luke Falk’s passing led the Cougs to a 20-7 lead, but needed the defense to come to the rescue twice in the fourth quarter – on a fumble recovery by Marcellus Pippins and a pick by Shalom Luiani – after Miami had the tying touchdown called back.

1981 Holiday Bowl

BYU quarterback Jim McMahon raises his arms in celebration in San Diego, Dec. 19, 1981. McMahon was named Most Valuable Player in the game as he threw three touchdown passes for 342 yards. (AP Photo) (Associated Press)
BYU quarterback Jim McMahon raises his arms in celebration in San Diego, Dec. 19, 1981. McMahon was named Most Valuable Player in the game as he threw three touchdown passes for 342 yards. (AP Photo) (Associated Press)

BYU 38, WSU 36: The Cougars’ first bowl game in 50 years was a wild shootout that saw WSU fall behind 31-7, before the playmaking of Ricky Turner and running of Don LaBomme closed the gap. But the offense stalled and had to punt with three minutes to play, allowing BYU and quarterback Jim McMahon to run out the clock.

1994 Alamo Bowl

WSU running back Derek Sparks is tackled during the Alamo Bowl Saturday, Dec. 31, 1994, in San Antonio. (George Bridges / Associated Press)
WSU running back Derek Sparks is tackled during the Alamo Bowl Saturday, Dec. 31, 1994, in San Antonio. (George Bridges / Associated Press)

WSU 10, Baylor 3: Other than the Cougars’ winning, this was a mostly forgettable affair that saw WSU score on the opening drive – on a 1-yard run by Kevin Hicks – and then turn matters over to the Palouse Posse, which limited Baylor to a measly 151 yards. Little-used Todd Jensen sealed the deal with a late interception.

2013 New Mexico Bowl

Washington Staterunning back Theron West (24) celebrates his touchdown with teammate Marcus Mason during the first half of the New Mexico Bowl NCAA college football game against Colorado State (Associated Press)
Washington Staterunning back Theron West (24) celebrates his touchdown with teammate Marcus Mason during the first half of the New Mexico Bowl NCAA college football game against Colorado State (Associated Press)

Colorado State 48, WSU 45: A baffling meltdown in the final minutes spoiled WSU’s return to the bowl picture after a 10-year absence. Connor Halliday threw for 410 yards and TDs to six different receivers, but helped by brutal clock management Cougars blew an eight-point lead with two minutes to go, possession of the ball and CSU out of timeouts.

2003 Rose Bowl

WSU quarterback Jason Gesser gets sacked by OU linebacker Teddy Lehman during the Rose Bowl NCAA football game on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2003 in Pasadena, Calif. (Kevin German / The Spokesman-Review)
WSU quarterback Jason Gesser gets sacked by OU linebacker Teddy Lehman during the Rose Bowl NCAA football game on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2003 in Pasadena, Calif. (Kevin German / The Spokesman-Review)

Oklahoma 34, WSU 14: With coach Mike Price lame-ducking it after taking the Alabama job, the Cougars were thoroughly outplayed – managing just 243 yards and two meaningless fourth-quarter touchdowns. Oklahoma quarterback Nate Hybl was the game’s MVP, while WSU counterpart Jason Gesser was intercepted twice.

1931 Rose Bowl

Alabama 24, WSU 0: Monk Campbell’s two touchdowns helped the Crimson Tide ruin WSU’s undefeated season. Alabama controlled the action by rushing for 261 yards, and picked off three passes as the Cougars tried to get back into the game after falling behind 21-0 in the second quarter.

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