Trying to back up a dominating win over Oregon, the Cougars went down to Palo Alto, California to play the Stanford Cardinal. Many people, including me, saw this as a winnable game for the team if they were able to do a series of things right. Well they were definitely able to do a series of things well in route to a 42-16 win. A team that was written off by a lot of people after an 0-2 start is suddenly being talked about as possibly the second best team in the whole conference behind their rivals Washington. Cougars quarterback Luke Falk was able to take advantage of the Cardinal being down two starting corners, throwing for 357 yards and 4 touchdowns, hitting 11 different targets in the route of the Cardinal. The teams leading receiver was River Cracraft, who had been a little bit quiet to this point in the year, but he was able to break out Saturday Night catching seven passes for 130 yards and a very impressive touchdown catch. The team also used a committee of ball carriers to pile up 101 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. This balanced attack that they seem to have found will really help the team moving forward.
Defensively, the Cougars held Stanford to just under 300 total yards on offense and just 61 yards rushing on 26 carries. The defense continued to show improvement and is becoming something they can actually count on and they are able to take pressure off of the offense to try and have to score every possession. They were also able to get the best of the big Stanford offensive line, getting to Cardinal quarterbacks four times and piling up five tackles for loss. The improvement on defense has been the biggest surprise so far this year considering how bad they looked at the start of the year and it’s really a credit to the defensive coaching staff, led by coordinator Alex Grinch. Washington State is really in control of their own destiny in the North, because they have put themselves in a position where they can afford to lose a game and even if Washington doesn’t lose until the Apple Cup they will still go to the conference title game if they can win that game. They need to be able to keep this consistency going forward.
Next up is another late game. This time it will be at home against UCLA where the Cougars defense will look to get after Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen.