If you watched Washington State outlast Arizona State 28-18 Saturday on the Pac-12 Networks, you probably saw the commercial for the Jimmy Kimmel Los Angeles Bowl more than once.
Maybe. With the win over ASU at Martin Stadium, the Cougars assured their seventh consecutive bowl game in non-COVID years. And, maybe, they will spend Dec. 17 at So-Fi Stadium.
Their bowl-assuring sixth win of the season was described by Roxy Bernstein and Lincoln Kennedy, who were working another Cougars game.
What they saw
• Bernstein was doing his second consecutive Washington State game. And other than Stanford’s fumble largesse the week before, this one played out pretty much the same as that rout.
The Cougars (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12) broke quickly, putting 210 yards of total offense and 13 points on the board in the first 15 minutes. But Cameron Ward and the offense left points on the board throughout the first half, failing to convert a fourth down from the ASU 2-yard line, dropping a handful of passes and giving up a blocked PAT.
Still, WSU led 28-0 at halftime thanks in large part to a defense that kept Arizona State (3-7, 2-5) in negative yardage numbers until the second quarter.
Bernstein focused on Nakia Watson’s second consecutive more-than 110-yard rushing day – he finished with 119 on 19 carries – and expressed some amazement when WSU went away from the running back.
The most obvious one? The fourth-and-1 play that came up empty.
As soon as Ward threw behind Tsion Nunnanly, resulting in a turnover on downs, Bernstein expressed his surprise.
“I am as surprised as you are,” said Kennedy, the former Washington star offensive lineman, who then talked about how well WSU’s offensive line had played up to then. He didn’t mention, but could have, that Watson was averaging 9.1 yards per carry at that point.
Watson, who scored three touchdowns , was also featured in a fourth-quarter segment that included Bernstein and Kennedy singing the junior’s praises while showing statistics from his past two games.
• We’ve all heard about the mythical announcer jinx. And it’s just that, a myth. Until it actually happens. It did in the first quarter, when Bernstein mentioned after the Cougars’ second touchdown that Dean Janikowski had been perfect in his 32 point-after attempts.
“Had” being the operative word. The kick was blocked.
At least Bernstein had the good sense to joke about it.
“Yep, the gasbag on television did it again,” Bernstein quickly said as Kennedy chuckled.
What we saw
• We knew we had seen ASU’s X Valladay before. We just couldn’t place it. Until we did a little research.
While Valladay was in the middle of rushing for 134 yards on 21 carries – he came into the game first in carries and third in the Pac-12 in rushing yardage – we delved into his college history. And ended up in Laramie, Wyoming, back in September 2018.
You might have watched. We did. Some new guy named Gardner Minshew led the Cougars to a season-opening 41-19 victory. It was the beginning of a special year.
On the other side of the field was Valladay. He carried four times. Gained 15 yards. Four years and two months later, he got a chance to play in Pullman.
• The game was awfully chippy, especially early on. And it may have contributed to at least one injury.
That was the one suffered by WSU receiver Robert Ferrel, who didn’t play the second half after leaving the game with a hip issue. It happened after Ferrel caught a short pass from Ward and was driven into the turf. While there, the Sun Devils’ Nesta Jade Silvera twisted Ferrel’s head and shoulders violently. It was extracurricular conduct that seemed aimed at nothing more than to cause some sort of issue.
Whether it contributed to Ferrel’s injury is debatable. What isn’t is that the action wasn’t necessary and should have been penalized.