It couldn't look any worse for the Cougars on or off the field right now. They are still without a conference win in mid-November, fell behind UCLA by 30 points in the first half on Saturday and their much maligned coach is being accused of exactly what got him fired at his last job already. Oh, and it's their best player who has quit and made the accusation.
However, there was a sliver of hope in Saturdays 44-36 loss to UCLA in Pullman. Despite trailing 37-7 at halftime, the Cougars turned the game into a one-possession game in the waning minutes and would have had a shot to force overtime, had they been able to recover an onside kick with 2 minutes to go. The comeback may have come from the Bruins getting cold in the frigid temperatures and just wanting to pack it in with a comfortable lead and go home, or it may have come from Connor Halliday stepping in and getting hot, but either way the comeback had to be huge for the Cougars morale. Had they allowed UCLA to comfortably roll them over, it may have cataclysmic for the Cougars when combined with what they have going off the field.
Those who went to sleep or just stopped watching the game were probably shocked when they woke up and saw the score. While UCLA fans can reason that it doesn't accurately show just how dominate the Bruins were at times, it can't be ignored that the Cougars out gained the Bruins by nearly 200 yards and were a couple of special teams miscues from having it only be a 2-point game. Also, Bruins fans had to be terrified of the Cougars recovering the onside kick with a couple minutes to go as they had been completely unable to stop the Cougar passing game throughout the second half as Halliday passed for more than 300 yards and five touchdowns with only one interception (though it was a heartbreaking one). With Jeff Tuel injured and the season down to just two games, it appears that Halliday should be the guy to finish out the season as the starter as the Cougars hope to build for the future.
In the end though, a loss is a loss, and what is more important now than cherishing a spirited comeback against a ranked team, is figuring out how to build on that momentum and move forward. The last time the Cougars took a ranked team down to the wire against Stanford, they turned around the next week and got destroyed by a not very good Utah team on the road. The Cougars now need to be able to recover from the emotional high competing at a high level and the low of falling just short and be able to play on the road in six days against an Arizona State team that is reeling, having lost four-straight.