Look out for the Washington State Cougars (7-2, 6-0 Pac-12). They’ve won seven games in a row, are completely dominating most of their Pac-12 opponents and after a 69-7 blowout win over Arizona this past weekend — they could be the most explosive college football team in the country.
And yes, that’s not unexpected considering that Mike Leach is their head coach and Luke Falk was expected to be not just one the best quarterbacks in the Pac-12, but one of the best quarterbacks in the nation this year.
So far, he hasn’t disappointed.
Though nine games, he’s thrown for 3,237 yards and 28 touchdowns compared to just five interceptions. He’s thrown four touchdowns in five contests and has thrown for over 400 yards in a game three times. Falk hasn’t thrown an interception since mid-October against UCLA, and against the Wildcats, he broke a Pac-12 passing record.
Falk was an incredible 32-of-35 against Arizona, completing 91.4 of his passes, which was the best single-game passing percentage in Pac-12 history for a quarterback who threw at least 30 completions. He tossed four touchdown passes and threw for 311 yards.
Washington State was extremely liberal with the football against Arizona, with 14 players catching at least one pass. Sophomore wide receiver Tavares Martin Jr. caught two touchdowns while Gabe Marks and River Cracraft each caught one. Isaiah Johnson-Mack and James Williams also got in on the touchdown fun.
As a whole, Wazzu threw six touchdown passes. Backup quarterback Tyler Hillinski got into the game and threw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter. It was the cherry on top of a dominant performance from the Cougars. They jumped out early on the Wildcats and never looked back.
“I thought we played together for the whole game, and I was proud of our guys for doing that,” Leach said after the game, per Michael Lev of the Arizona Daily Star. “I have a lot of respect for that team and think they do a lot of good things. It was more one of those things where everything that we touched worked.”
Leach was right, his team really did have the magic touch in front of the home crowd in Pullman, Wash.
As a team, Wazzu put up an astounding 615 yards. The Cougars were 11-of-14 on third downs and absolutely controlled the game clock. They held the ball on offense for 37:37 compared to Arizona’s 22:23, and this was despite of their high-powered passing attack offense, mind you. It’s not a system designed to eat up chunks of clock.
Though the Cougars were great — as usual — through the air, they also found a way to get things moving on the ground. Williams led the way with 72 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. Junior Gerard Wicks rushed seven times for 44 yards, scoring twice.
In all, the Cougars notched nine touchdowns in a truly masterful offensive performance.
Not surprisingly, WSU’s offensive prowess has been translating onto the national stage. The Cougars have the No. 2 scoring offense in all of college football, putting up 48.3 points per game. The only team ahead of them is Louisville, which is scoring 50.2 points per game. Wazzu also has the nation’s No. 2 passing offense, putting up 383.9 yards per game. Texas Tech does lead in that category, passing for an impressive 485.8 yards per game, but the Cougars have been better with the football. Tech has thrown 37 touchdowns compared to nine interceptions. Wazzu had thrown 30 touchdowns compared to only six interceptions as a team.
And as if Washington State’s offensive dominance against Arizona wasn’t enough, the Cougars also shut the Wildcats down with a very stout defense. It would have been one thing if the game was a shoot-out, something that’s not necessarily surprising in Pac-12 play. The game went from an impressive performance to a dominant one because of the strength of the Cougars’ defense, though.
Arizona was able to score only once against Wazzu, a 47-yard touchdown pass from Anu Solomon to Cam Denson late in the second quarter. Other than that, though, the Wildcats were utterly shut down.
Wazzu held Arizona to only 286 total yards as a team. The Wildcats were 2-of-10 on third downs and though they were somewhat effective moving the ball (5.6 yards per pass and 5.3 yards per rush) the Cougars shut them down with a handful of turnovers. Quarterbacks Khalil Tate and Brandon Dawkins both got some snaps, and both threw interceptions. Solomon also fumbled twice, losing one.
In all, it was a scary good performance from the No. 23 team in the latest College Football Rankings. In fact, some may say Washington State is nightmarish.
“Obviously, I’m embarrassed,” Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez said after the loss. “We should be embarrassed. … Gosh, it was a nightmare.”