Whatever it is that the state of Oregon has done to Luke Falk, it needs to atone for what was an apparently heinous crime.
Falk, for those who don’t pay much mind to the annual bottom feeders in the Pac-12, like Washington State, is the quarterback of the Cougars. Last year, he made his first collegiate start. This came against Oregon State, and Falk was so intimidated by the pressure of starting for the first time that he threw for five touchdowns and 471 yards.
This is whom we like to refer to as “Oregon Luke Falk.”
On Saturday, he was under center against those poor, unsuspecting Beavers again, the second team in as many weeks he has played from the state of Oregon. The other, the previously mighty and shockingly vulnerable Oregon Ducks, didn’t fare so well.
Falk threw for 505 yards and five touchdowns in a stunning, 45-38 double-overtime win over the Ducks. Most, though, wrote this off as a sign of the rapidly deteriorating state of Oregon’s football team, not a sign of things to come for the team that had just handed the Ducks their second straight home loss.
The few who believed in Falk, and Wazzou, would not have been surprised to see his line of 28 of 33, 323 yards and a school record-tying six touchdowns. Oh, and now may be a good time to mention a minor detail: That was all in the first half.
Falk, who finished with 407 yards and six touchdowns, led the Cougars on scoring drives on all seven of their first half possessions, gaining nearly a quarter-mile of yardage in 30 minutes of football. The fact that they only won 52-31 after a first half like that should be as surprising as the fact that they beat a team 52-31 at all.
It has been two years since Washington State won a Pac-12 game at home, and the first time it has managed to string together back-to-back conference wins since 2013.
Now, to be clear, this is not about to become a story on how Wazzou is going to shock the world and win a wonderfully chaotic Pac-12. The defenses that Falk has burned these past two weeks – both, again I’ll note, from Oregon – are woefully young. Oregon’s secondary would have trouble containing even teams like Navy and Georgia Tech if they so chose to eschew their option games and turn to the air, and Oregon State returned two total starters on defense.
There’s also the vexing matter of Wazzou’s second half disappearance. After going all video game on Oregon State in the first half, the Cougars disappeared. Falk barely contributed anything, aside from two interceptions in the favor of Oregon State, and the defense resembled the porous one is has been for many years now. Complete games are something of a Sisyphean task for Washington State, which can’t happen for a team that legitimately wants to contend in the nation’s best conference.
Arizona looms, which has a significantly better offense, and defense, and, well, everything, than Oregon State, and probably Oregon, too. Then Stanford and Arizona State and UCLA. By no measure is that an easy road.
For now, though, the Cougars can celebrate, and if I had to guess, they’ll be celebrating on the streets of Oregon, their favorite state.