Washington State beat Oregon State on Saturday, October 17, completing a sweep of the Oregon schools for the first time in years. The 52-31 victory was well in hand after the Cougars scored 31 points in the second quarter to take a 45-17 lead into halftime. From that point, WSU just cruised to its fourth win of the college football season.
WSU quarterback Luke Falk finished with 407 yards through the air, completing 39-of-50 passes to improve his completion percentage even further. He had six touchdown passes before halftime and has already helped the Cougars surpass the three wins the team finished with during the 2014 season. It was also a very important win in the Pac-12, which keeps hopes alive that the team can find a way to play in the 2016 Rose Bowl.
In six games this season, Falk now has 2,271 passing yards to his credit. That’s about 378 yards per game, helping the team to a 4-2 record so far. He also has 21 touchdown passes to go with four interceptions and an amazing completion percentage of 72.3 for the season. The numbers rank him among the best quarterbacks in all of college football.
After beating the Oregon Ducks 45-38 on October 10, the Washington State Cougars finished a sweep of the Pac-12 Oregon schools by beating the Oregon State Beavers on October 17. This improves the team to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in conference play. Within the Pac-12 North standings, it places the Cougars in a tie with the California Bears for second place. An earlier season loss to California causes WSU to lose that tie-breaker for now.
Stanford is already 4-0 in conference play after beating up on UCLA (56-35) on Thursday, October 15. The Stanford Cardinal still has several tough games left on the schedule, including a primetime game against the Washington Huskies on October 24, and then home games against the Oregon Ducks on November 14, and the California Bears on November 21. Much like WSU this season, Stanford has a schedule that does not include playing against the undefeated Utah Utes.
With the current records in the Pac-12, as well as what the Washington State Cougars have done so far this season, a path to the Rose Bowl has already been created. The simplest road is for the Cougars to win the remaining six games on their schedule. That would improve the team to 10-2 overall and 8-1 in Pac-12 play. The second result needed, would be for Stanford to beat California on November 21.
If WSU wins the rest of its games and Stanford beats California, it would create a first place tie at 8-1 in the Pac-12 North. WSU would win the head-to-head tie-breaker with Stanford and advance to the 2015 Pac-12 Championship Game. Winning that title game would then put the Cougars back in the Rose Bowl for the first time since Jason Gesser was the starting quarterback in 2003 against the Oklahoma Sooners. If Stanford or California were to lose two conference games while WSU kept from losing again, the tie-breakers wouldn’t even be needed.
The seven-point loss to Portland State to open the season and a six-point loss to nationally-ranked California are the only reasons the Cougars aren’t 6-0 so far. What the team has to do now it remain consistent on offense while playing the type of defense that the team showed in the first half against Oregon State. Doing so will not only get the team right in the race for the Rose Bowl, but also on to the national stage when it comes to the college football rankings.
Next up on the schedule for the Washington State Cougars is a road game against Arizona on October 24 before returning to Martin Stadium for the important Stanford match-up on October 31. Winning both games would make WSU bowl eligible for the first time since Mike Leach took over as head coach.
[Image Source: Michael Mancebo and Steve Dykes / Getty Images]