Washington State’s 37-27 victory over Arizona State late Saturday night was the sort of thing that happens almost every week in the Pac-12.
It just doesn’t happen very often to Washington State. Indeed, the win was something of a benchmark for the Cougars, showing just how deep their miseries have been in recent years.
It was the first victory for the program against a Football Bowl Subdivision (old Division 1-A) program that finished its regular season with a winning record since the SMU win in early 2009. That SMU team went 8-5 and won its bowl game.
But more meaningful is that it was the first victory over a BCS-league team that finished with a winning regular season since late October of 2006 — a year from the end of the Bill Doba regime. That came against UCLA, a 37-15 road win. The Bruins went 7-5 in the regular season.
(Of course, this is predicated on Arizona State, which is 6-4, finishing with a winning record. It should, with two more chances against Arizona and Cal coming up.)
I can’t remember a game in which a quarterback and his receivers had better games in concert — and since the quarterback was redshirt freshman Connor Halliday, it all came out of the blue. Halliday was magnificent, completing 27 of 36 for 494 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Receiver Marquess Wilson (eight catches for 223 yards) was superb as well, and Isiah Barton (7 for 155) and Jared Karstetter came up big, too.
Some quotes that didn’t make it into our coverage, and a final thought about Halliday and fifth-year senior Marshall Lobbestael: The Lobster, as he’s affectionately known by WSU fans, has been a standup guy and a serviceable backup when the Cougars needed it this year. But there was a crackling sort of connection between Halliday and the receivers, and it seemed to energize the whole team. This shouldn’t go unnoticed: After Halliday tossed that pass to Wilson, the first guy off the bench to give the quarterback a massive, leaping body bump was Lobbestael.
WSU Coach Paul Wulff
— “I’m very, very proud of our players. We don’t have the kind of guys that are going to cash it in. And I want to mention the fans. Think of the snow coming down four hours prior to the game. They stayed ’til the end. And we gave them reason to stay, obviously.”
— “We were going to be real aggressive in our play-calling. We had it in our game plan to take a lot of shots. We thought we could take a lot of passing-game shots, the way they play their defense.”
— “(Halliday) throws the ball very well. It’s always a concern, with some guy who hasn’t played very much. But when he gets into the game, he just plays.”
— (On the 85-yard bomb to Wilson on his first snap in the game) “We’ve been looking to get that play for about five weeks. How lucky can you be — my first meaningful college snap, and I’ve got a guy running wide-open. I’m just lucky I’m the one who got it.”
— (On the pregame talk from ALS-afflicted former Cougar Steve Gleason) “It’s so sad, to think he was playing in the NFL a couple of years ago. To have him talk to us meant the world. That guy is awfully tough. That’s a great role model.”
ASU Coach Dennis Erickson
— “We have not played very well the last two weeks. The same thing happened to us last week (at UCLA), and the bottom line is, we aren’t playing well.”
ASU WR Gerell Robinson
— “I just know people need to look in the mirror, from the top to the bottom — coaches, players, everybody. Everybody needs to re-evaluate themselves and see if they’re really putting forth their best effort out there on Saturdays.”
— (On whether the talent is better than the record reflects) “I would definitely say so. Since I’ve been here, it’s been like that. That is the problem, and I don’t get it.”