Arrow-right Camera
Subscribe now

Recap and highlights: Washington State opens season with dominant 50-24 win over Colorado State

From staff reports

At times, Washington State left points on the table. In the end, the Cougars left no doubt.

Washington State’s defense took command and the offense found its groove, leading to a 50-24 rout of Colorado State at Canvas Stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado, on Saturday.

The start of the 2023 season was shaky for WSU – a quick punt and a long CSU drive for a field goal. That didn’t last, as the Cougars seized the lead on a seven-play 75-yard drive, capped by a Cameron Ward quarterback sneak.

From there, the Cougars defense locked down the Rams the rest of the first half, allowing 32 yards and forcing four punts and a turnover on downs.

There was mixed results for Ward, with WSU’s qb fumbling twice and missing a wide open receiver in the endzone.

Ward made up for the mistakes.

The second-year starter completed 37 of 49 attempts for a career-high 451 yards and three touchdowns. Lincoln Victor caught 11 passes for 168 yards.

Meanwhile the Cougs had two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown by Jaden Hicks. The Cougars led by 33 points early in the fourth quarter. WSU allowed two long touchdowns after that, a 98-yard kick return and a 75-yard pass by the Rams’ backup quarterback Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi. 


First quarter

12:50 – CSU 0, WSU 0: Washington State picks up a first down on its first play, but is forced to punt three plays later.

The Rams field the punt and begin driving, now across midfield early in the quarter.

The game is being livestreamed online here until the conclusion of USF-WKU on CBS Sports Network.

9:27 – CSU 3, WSU 0: Noyes boots a field goal for the Rams to open the scoring. The 31-year-old is the third-oldest player in FBS. 

7:35 – WSU 7, CSU 3: Ward keeps it up the middle for a 1-yard touchdown. Cougars answer with a 7-play, 75-yard drive. Ward is 4 of 6 for 48 yards, including passes of 26 yards to tight end Mathers and a 15 yards to Kelly.

3:02 – WSU 7, CSU 3: Ward tries to scramble up the middle and fumbles, giving the Rams the ball on their own 30 yard line. Ward didn’t seem to be hit on the play. 

Cougars’ end up with nothing after a 5-play, 52-yard drive.

1:50 – WSU 7, CSU 3: Cougars get the ball back quickly and in good field position, after Sheffield returns a punt 20 yards to the Cougars’ 37.

Second quarter

11:34 – WSU 14, CSU 3: Ward finds Williams in the back of the endzone for a 3-yard touchdown pass, capping a 13-play 63-yard drive.

Ward is 11 of 16 for 111 yards and has eight carries for 54 yards. The Cougars are 4 of 5 on 3rd down conversions. 

8:43 – WSU 14, CSU 3: Cougars stop the Rams on a fourth down attempt, but Ward fumbles a snap on 1st down and WSU punts it right back.

CSU ball on its own 20 after a touchback. Rams have jump 77 yards (22 since first drive) and are 1 of 5 on 3rd down conversions.

5:02 – WSU 14, CSU 3: Ward finds Victor wide open over the middle of the field for a 50-yard gain to the CSU 20. Victor has five receptions for 84 yards.

2:32: WSU 14, CSU 3: The Rams come up with a big stop on 4th down, stuffing Watson in the backfield on a run play at the goaline.

Ward overthrew Riviere on 3rd down, who was running wide open in the endzone.

0:00: WSU 17, CSU 3: Janikowski converts a 55-yard field goal as the first half expires.


Washington State has controlled its first game of the 2023 season, but has missed opportunities to build a comfortable lead against Colorado State, maintaining a 17-3 advantage at halftime.

The Cougars offense has gained 257 yards, but quarterback Cameron Ward fumbled deep in Rams territory and missed a wide open receiver on a short throw to the endzone.

Still, Ward has completed 19 of 28 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown. He adds 10 carries for 48 yards and a score. The Cougars running backs (Nakia Watson and Jaylen Jenkins) combined for eight carries for 14 yards.

Lincoln Victor leads WSU wideouts with six catches for 91 yards, including a 50-yard reception.

The Rams marched 55 yards on their opening drive to take a 3-0 lead, but haven’t done much since, being held by the WSU defense to four punts and a turnover on downs, gaining 32 yards on five drives.

Third quarter

14:05 – WSU 17, CSU 3: Quick 3-and-out forced by the Cougars defense. Impressive showing thus far by the WSU unit, keeping the Rams from showing any threat on offense.

11:18 – WSU 23, CSU 3: Ward comes out of the game in the redzone and Mateer, the backup qb, scores a 3-yard rushing touchdown. Conversion failed.

Ward was stopped for no gain on the previous play and drove the Cougs down the field with a pass of 17 yards to Jenkins and 28 yards to Victor.

Victor has eight receptions for 128 yards.

10:50 – WSU 29, CSU 3: Hicks snags an interception and runs it back for a touchdown and the Cougars have quickly blown this game open. Cougs fail another conversion.

5:34 – WSU 29, CSU 3: Ward coughs up his third fumble of the day, second recovered by the Rams. This time it was on fourth and short. CSU will start on its own 20.

3:10 – WSU 29, CSU 3: Rams put Fowler-Nicoloski in at quarterback, but there’s a similar result, with Lataimua grabbing an interception.

Cougars start on their own 32.

Fourth quarter

14:50 – WSU 36, CSU 3: Ward flips a pass out to a wide open Watson, who strolls into the endzone for another touchdown. Cougars in full control.

Ward is 31 of 42 for 374 yards and two touchdowns.

14:38 – WSU 36, CSU 10: Colorado State didn’t seem like it was going to get anything else from its offense. It special teams picked up some slack, with Johnson returning the kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown.

11:22 – WSU 43, CSU 10: Ward completes a 25-yard touchdown to Kelly and its safe to say, the Cougars quarterback has made up for any mistakes today.

Ward is 36 of 47 for 447 yards and three touchdowns.

11:12 – WSU 43, CSU 17: Rams get another quick touchdown, as Ross-Simmons scores a 75-yard reception from Fowler-Nicolosi. 

7:35 – WSU 43, CSU 17: Call is overturned after Lampkin scoops a fumble and returns it for a touchdown. It would have been the second touchdown by the Cougars defense today.

5:57 – WSU 43, CSU 24: Holker hauls in a 20-yard touchdown from Fowler-Nicolosi in garbage time.

0:42 – WSU 50, CSU 24: Mateer runs in a 1-yard touchdown to cap the game.


For at least one afternoon, Washington State and its fans can turn focus from conference realignment back to the reason for realigning.

It’s time for football.

The Cougars open their season at Colorado State in Fort Collins, Colorado, at 4 p.m. The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.

Washington State begins its second season under head coach Jake Dickert with a strong defensive line and a hope to see progression from quarterback Cameron Ward, who made exciting plays in his first season in Pullman, but failed to make them consistently.

The Cougars throttled the Rams last season and are favored by 10½ points, according to

Colorado State hopes to see growth under its own second-year coach, Jay Norvell, who returns a number of players on the offense. 

Series history

Washington State and Colorado State have played twice, splitting games in 2022 and 2013.

The Cougars cruised to a 38-7 victory in Pullman last year, completing a sweep of its nonconference schedule under first-year coach Jake Dickert.

The Rams defeated the Cougars in the 2013 New Mexico Bowl, 48-45, overcoming a 15-point lead with less than 3 minutes remaining. 

2022 team stats

Scoring WSU CSU
Points Per Game 26.1 13.2
Points Allowed Per Game 22.9 26.9
Total Yards 360.6 285.8
     Yards Passing 253.8 196.8
     Yards Rushing 106.8 89.0
Yards Allowed 402.3 354.9
     Pass Yards Allowed 267.7 191.3
     Rush Yards Allowed 134.6 163.6

Returning individual leaders

PASSING Att.-Comp. Yards TD Int.
Cameron Ward (WSU) 320-497 3,231 23 9
Clay Millen (CSU) 169-234 1,910 10 6
RUSHING Carries Yards TD
Nakia Watson (WSU) 144 769 9
Avery Morrow (CSU) 173 834 4
RECEIVING Receptions Yards TD
Lincoln Victor (WSU) 26 245 0
Tory Horton (CSU) 71 1,131 8

Game preview

More on the Cougs