This game wasn’t a message so much as a declaration: “Hey, Huskies — we’re not the same old Cougs.”
PULLMAN — It was 28 degrees at kickoff Saturday, but that didn’t stop the majority of Cougs from warming up shirtless. You can’t help but think this intimidated the Arizona Wildcats, whose home town of Tucson has had highs of 75 all week.
But this sort of thing won’t work on Washington players, who endure their own frigid conditions this time of year. So Washington State used another intimidation tactic for the Huskies — they scored 69 points to beat Arizona by 41 points, 69-28.
Yeah, if I were a UW fan, my nerves would have just tripled in population. I’d be having nightmares of mustaches and wilting roses.
The Cougs should have to serve time after the beating they put on Arizona. Those weren’t just fans in the Martin Stadium stands, they were potential eyewitnesses.
Thirty minutes into WSU’s 10th victory of the season, it led Arizona 55-14. In the first two quarters alone, its instantly iconic quarterback, Gardner Minshew, completed 28 of 33 passes for 311 yards and five touchdowns. That first half also included 97 rushing yards on 11 carries by the Cougars.
No doubt the Wildcats committed some unforced errors. A fumbled kickoff that the Cougs ended up recovering in the end zone put them up 41-14, as they scored 14 points in four seconds. And a muffed punt in the second half set up WSU’s penultimate touchdown. But that stuff was inconsequential. The fact is, if Wazzu’s offense was on the field, “touchdoooooooooooown Cougs!” blaring over the intercom was imminent.
Washington State (10-1, 7-1 Pac-12) opened the game with a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that took less than five minutes. It followed with a six-play, 53-yard TD drive that took less than two minutes.
The Cougs’ third possession ended in a foreign concept known as a punt, but that wouldn’t happen again for the rest of the half.
Whether it was Minshew to Calvin Jackson from the 27, Minshew to Dezmon Patmon from the 11, or Minshew to James Williams from the 9, WSU kept putting the officials’ arms in the air. And because Wazzu scored 48 first-half points the last time Arizona came to Pullman, it capped the second quarter with a two-play 80-yard touchdown drive to make it 55.
WSU’s record for points in a half, by the way, is 56 — which came against Southwestern Louisiana (now Louisiana Lafayette) in 1997. But to fall one point short of that against a Pac-12 team that came into the game with a 4-3 conference record, a two-game winning streak and a recent 29-point victory over Oregon?
That wasn’t a message so much as a declaration: “Hey, Huskies — we’re not the same old Cougs.”
Whether that will remain true on Friday night remains to be seen. But the Huskies, who have won the past five Apple Cups, have never faced anyone like Minshew during that stretch.
Just when you think his stock can’t get higher, it spikes another 50 stories high. The guy came into the game with 3,852 passing yards, which was 438 more than anyone else in the country. He added 473 yards Saturday, completing 43 of his 55 passes while throwing a school-record seven touchdown passes. He might have had eight had Tay Martin been able to reel in a ball that hit his hands in the end zone, but that’s irrelevant.
What’s relevant is that the Cougs continue to do things people simply can’t believe. What’s relevant is they have a transfer behind center who not only holds the scepter to Pullman, but is captivating the country. What’s relevant is that Washington State is the No. 8 team in the country according to the College Football Playoff Committee, and seems hellbent on moving up.
Before the game, I was talking to a writer about the Apple Cup and told him that until the Cougs actually beat the Huskies, I have to pick Washington every time. I don’t know anymore.
This team feels different. This team feels special.
No doubt Wazzu fans stayed up all night celebrating. Washington fans might have stayed up all night sweating.