WASHINGTON STATE vs. No. 2 OREGON
7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 19
Autzen Stadium (54,000)
WSU HITS THE ROAD FOR MATCHUP AGAINST NO. 2 OREGON: Washington State heads to Eugene for a Pac-12 Conference contest against second-ranked Oregon Saturday at 7 p.m. on FOX Sports 1.
NEXT WEEK: Washington State has a bye next week and will host Arizona State Thursday, Oct. 31 at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN.
MIKE LEACH RADIO SHOW: Washington State Head Coach Mike Leach holds a weekly radio show on WSU’s flagship station 920 KXLY on Thursdays from 6-7 p.m. live from Zeppoz in Pullman.
BOB ROBERTSON, NATION’S LONGEST TENURED RADIO ANNOUNCER: Hall of fame announcer Bob Robertson is in his 47th season calling Cougar football games, and according to a nation-wide survey of sports information directors, is the longest tenured radio announcer in the country with the next closest being Bill Hillgrove who has announced 44 straight seasons at Pitt. Robertson began calling WSU games in 1964 and with the exception of a three-year period in 1969-71, has been calling Cougar games ever since. This season, Robertson will slide over from his familiar play-by-play role and pass the microphone to Bud Nameck. Robertson will host the Cougars pre, halftime and postgame shows, while also providing analysis during the games.
COLLEGE GAMEDAY RECORD: In addition to Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso, ESPN’s College GameDay has had another constant – the WSU flag, which this weekend will be making its 140th consecutive appearance on the weekly show, dating back to the beginning of the 2004 season. Two flags – Ol’ Crimson and Gray – have been flown in the background of the GameDay set by dozens of friends and alumni. The Gray flag was added this year after Whitey was retired in honor of Steve Gleason’s “No White Flags.” WSU recognized the GameDay flag wavers in a pregame ceremony prior to the Montana State game in 2010. In addition to the flags that fly, there is a traveling flag signed by the holders after each episode. The traveling flag is retired after each season, the first of which is hanging in WSU’s Alumni Center.
JACK THOMPSON ELECTED TO POLYNESIAN HALL OF FAME: WSU Athletic Hall of Famer Jack “The Throwin’ Samoan “ Thompson was one of seven inductees named to the inaugural Polynesian Football Hall of Fame class, it was announced October 9. Thompson was one of the most prolific passers in Pacific-8 Conference and NCAA history following three record-breaking seasons, 1976-77-78. Thompson was a Sporting News first-team All-America pick in 1978 and won all-league first-team honors as a sophomore and senior. Twice Thompson finished high in the Heisman Trophy balloting. The third athlete drafted in 1978, he spent three seasons with Cincinnati, then his final two NFL years with Tampa Bay. Thompson was born in American Samoa and prepped at Evergreen High in Seattle before arriving at WSU in 1974. He is only the second Cougar football Athlete to have his jersey number (14) retired. The other is Mel Hein (7). Inductees will be honored January 23, 2014 (prior to the NFL Pro Bowl) at the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame’s Inaugural Enshrinement Ceremony held in Honolulu.
WSU-OREGON SERIES: Washington State enters Saturday’s meeting at Oregon trailing the all-time series 45-38-7 after dropping the last six matchups. The Cougars last win in the series came in 2006, 34-23 in Pullman over the 16th-ranked Ducks. WSU’s last win in Eugene came in 2003, 55-16 over No. 10 Oregon.
WSU AGAINST RANKED TEAMS: The Cougars last win over a top-5 ranked team was in the 2003 Holiday Bowl, beating No. 5 Texas 28-20. Earlier this season, WSU knocked off No. 25 USC in Los Angeles.
COUGAR OFFENSE TAKING OFF: The Washington State offense enters the week with eighth-best passing offense in the country at 346.8 ypg with quarterback Connor Halliday owning the third-most yards in the nation (2,241) and averaging the tenth-most passing yards per game at 320.1. The Cougars own eight rushing touchdowns, already more than last season’s total of six. WSU has had 10 receivers catch a pass in each of the last five games and have had 10+ players catch a pass six times.
BUCANNON CLIMBING WSU RECORD BOOK: Senior Deone Bucannon has seen his name continue to climb up the WSU record book this season. He enters the week leading the Pac-12 with 64 tackles after making a team-leading 14 tackles (12 solo) at Auburn, eight tackle performances in the wins at USC and over Southern Utah, a game-high nine tackles against Stanford and 12 in the win at California. The Fairfield, Calif. native enters the week tied for fifth in WSU history for career tackles (334) and fourth in career solo tackles (231). Bucannon picked off a pass in four straight weeks this season and sits tied for fourth in school history with 13 career interceptions. He also owns 14 career double-digit tackle performances.
FURNEY DOING HIS THING: Kicker Andrew Furney has picked up where he left off from last season, hitting from 44 yards at Auburn, kicking the game-winner from 41 yards out with 3:03 remaining at USC and connecting on three attempts at Cal. His career total sits at 40, good for fourth place for the most makes in program history. He enters the week second in WSU history for career field goal percentage at .769 (40-52), percentage points behind Drew Dunning’s top mark of .773 (68-88). Furney earned All-Pac-12 second team honors after going 14-for-20 on field goal attempts, tied for second in the conference. The Burlington, Wash. native was a perfect 7-for-7 on attempts inside 30 yards and 6-of-10 on kicks outside of 40 yards including a conference-best 60-yarder against Eastern Washington. Furney capped his season by going 3-for-3 in the Apple Cup victory, kicking a game-tying 45-yarder with 1:59 remaining and later hitting the game-winner from 27-yards in overtime.
HALLIDAY AT IT AGAIN: Quarterback Connor Halliday has continued to put his name throughout the WSU record book after tallying three 300-yard games and two four-touchdown games through the first half of the season. The Spokane native opened 2013 by going 35-of-65 for 344 yards at Auburn, the third-most pass attempts in WSU single-game history trailing only Drew Bledsoe’s 66 against Montana in 1992. Against Southern Utah, Halliday threw for 383 yards and five touchdowns and followed with a 346-yard four touchdown performance against Idaho. He erupted for 521 yards and added three touchdown throws in the win at Cal. He owns nine career 300-yard performances, third-most in school history, trailing the school record of 12 shared by Alex Brink and Ryan Leaf. Halliday also owns three 400-yard games, one 500-yard game and six career four-touchdown performances. He notched his first career five-touchdown game against UCLA last season and following the SUU game, joins Alex Brink as the only Cougar QB’s with multiple five-TD games. Halliday owns 38 career touchdown passes, good for seventh all time WSU history. He enters the week third in the country in passing yards (2,241) and 10th in yards-per-game (320.1)
INSIDE HALLIDAY’S 500-YARD DAY: Connor Halliday’s 521-passing yard performance in the win at California was the most yards thrown for in a game by any FBS quarterback in the country this season. The mark was the fifth-highest total in Pac-12 history and the most since WSU’s Alex Brink threw for a school-record 531 yards at Oregon State in 2005. Halliday finished the day 41-of-67, the second-most completions in school history and the most pass attempts in WSU history. The 44 points are the most points scored by WSU in a conference game since beating Oregon 55-10 in Eugene in 2003. The Cougars claimed their first win over Cal since 2002 (in Berkeley), snapping an eight-game skid.
GABE MARKS ADDED TO BILETNIKOFF AWARD WATCH LIST: Sophomore wide receiver Gabe Marks was one of six receivers added to The Biletnikoff Award Watch List last week. Marks enters Saturday’s game at Oregon second in the Pac-12 Conference with 46 receptions, seventh with 478 receiving yards and second on the team lead with four touchdown catches. The Los Angeles native has led the Cougars in catches in five of the seven contests and posted the best game of his young career against Idaho, recording career highs of 11 receptions for 146 yards and two touchdowns in the win. As a freshman last season, Marks was second on the team in receiving yards (560) and third in catches (49) to go along with two touchdowns. The award recipient is selected by the Biletnikoff Award National Selection Committee, a group of over 215 prominent college football journalists, commentators, and former receivers. The fan vote counts as one additional vote. Fans may vote daily on FanVote at http://www.biletnikoffaward.com/fan-vote?DB_OEM_ID=30400.
WSU DEFENSE SETTING THE TONE: The Cougars defense has posted some impressive numbers through the first half of the season. WSU held Auburn to 99 yards passing and 4-of-13 on third down, limited No. 25 USC to 54 yards passing, 193 yards in total offense and All-American wideout Marqise Lee to 51 all-purpose yards. The Cougar defense did not stop once returning to Martin Stadium, holding Southern Utah to 219 yards in total offense and Idaho to 253, the first time WSU held three straight opponents under 260 yards in total offense since the last two games of the 1994 season and the 1995 season opener. WSU enters the week seventh in the country in red zone defense (66.7) and No. 33 in third down defense (34.9). The Cougars are tied for the Pac-12 lead with 16 turnovers forced including 11 interceptions, sixth-most in the country.
COUGARS POST FIRST SHUTOUT SINCE 2003: Washington State’s 42-0 win over Idaho in week four gave the Cougars their first shutout since 2003 (Idaho, 25-0 in Seattle) and the first home shutout since 1999 (Louisiana-Lafayette, 44-0). The defense tallied 14 tackles-for-loss, the most since making 14 against Arizona State in 2007, and a season-high five sacks, the most since recording six against Colorado last season.
LINEBACKERS: The Cougar’s 3-4 defense has seen its linebackers fill up the stat sheet through the first four weeks. Linebackers Cyrus Coen and Darryl Monroe are tied for the second most tackles on the team with 45 and Justin Sagote has tallied 40. Coen and Monroe both currently rank among the Pac-12’s top-10 tackle leaders. All three have registered a double digit tackle performance this season with Sagote making 10 stops at USC, Coen tallying 10 against Southern Utah and Monroe setting a career high with 12 tackles against Idaho. WSU’s linebackers have combined for 17.5 tackles for loss including six sacks.
OFFENSIVE LINE TAKING STRIDES: Washington State showcased its improved running game in the season opener at Auburn, rushing for 120 yards and two touchdowns, its highest rushing total since posting 125 rushing yards at Oregon in 2011. Sophomore Teondray Caldwell led the way with seven carries for 57 yards, junior Marcus Mason added 47 yards on six carries and redshirt-sophomore Jeremiah Laufasa rushed for two scores. Against Southern Utah, the o-line hit another mark, not allowing a sack for the first time since against Utah in 2011. In week four, Laufasa rushed for two more touchdowns. WSU rushed for two more scores in the win at Cal and two more against Oregon State. The Cougars now own eight rushing scores and have rushed for 465 yards through seven games in 2013 after posting 349 yards and six scores in 12 games last season.
YOUTH MOVEMENT CONTINUES: The Cougars have continued their youth movement this season after seeing 17 freshmen, including nine true freshmen, appear in a game in 2012. Overall, WSU had 20 players make their first career start last season including five freshmen. Through seven games this season WSU has seen five true freshman and five redshirt-freshmen make their collegiate debuts. In the season-opener at Auburn, WSU started true freshman wideout River Cracraft (3-catches for 14 yards) and also saw freshman cornerback Daquawn Brown tally four tackles, including one for loss against the Tigers. A week later, Brown made his first collegiate start at No. 25 USC and answered the call with a game-high 11 tackles and two pass break-ups while helping hold the Trojans’ Marqise Lee to 27 receiving yards. Brown recorded his first career interception in week three against Southern Utah before picking off his second pass at California. Cracraft posted his best game of the season against SUU, catching six passes for 87 yards. True freshman wideout John Thompson caught two passes for six yards in his collegiate debut against No. 5 Stanford. The Cougars have started eight sophomores in each of the first six games, four on each side of the ball.
SPECIAL TEAMS AMONG NCAA, PAC-12 LEADERS: The Cougars kickoff and punt return teams saw improvement last season and both have continued the trend through the first seven weeks in 2013. Last season, Teondray Caldwell earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention as a kick returner after finishing third in the conference with a 25.0 kick return average. This season, the kickoff return team enters the week fourth in the Pac-12 averaging 21.7 per return led by Caldwell’s 25.7. Already in his career, Caldwell owns kick returns of 63 yards at BYU and 92 yards No. 2 Oregon. For the punt return team, last year it nearly doubled the 2011 return average and improved its national ranking by 30 spots with a 6.8 return average. So far this season, the punt return team ranks fourth in the Pac-12 with an average of 11.0, all by Leon Brooks who already owns returns for 22 yards (Southern Utah), a career-best 51-yarder against Idaho and a 26-yarder against Oregon State. The special teams unit picked up another tally this past week, blocking its first punt (Theron West) since the 2007 season.
COUGARS KNOCK OFF NO. 25 USC: Washington State’s 10-7 win at No. 25 USC week two was its first victory over the Trojans since 2002 and first win over USC in Los Angeles since 2000. The victory was also the first win over a ranked team since beating No. 16 Oregon 34-23 in Pullman in 2006 and the first win over a ranked opponent on the road since beating No. 10 Oregon 55-13 in 2003.
HORTON’S HOT STREAK: Senior cornerback Damante Horton recorded his seventh career interception and returned an INT for a touchdown two straight weeks earlier this season, doing so against USC and against Southern Utah. The Oakland, Calif. native owns three career interception returns for touchdowns, tying him for most in WSU history with Jason David. Horton was named the Pac-12 Conference Defensive Player of the Week following his two-interception performance in the win at No. 25 USC. Horton led a spirited defensive effort by the Cougars in their 10-7 upset win in Los Angeles. Trailing 7-0 late in the first half, Horton picked off a Cody Kessler pass and raced 70 yards for the touchdown. It marked Horton’s second career interception return for a touchdown, the first coming at Oregon in 2011. Horton then sealed the victory by stepping in front of a Max Wittek pass with less than three minutes remaining in the game, ending the USC comeback attempt. Horton led the WSU secondary that held All-American receiver Marquis Lee to seven catches for only 27 yards. Horton was also named the Jim Thorpe Defensive Back of the Week, National Defensive Player of the Week by Athlon Sports and National Defensive Back of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards. Horton added his eighth career interception last week.
BOWLIN BLASTS AWAY: Kicker Mike Bowlin provided a big boost to the WSU kicking game in 2012 and has continued to do so through the first six weeks of 2013. Bowlin has recorded 13 touchbacks on kickoffs, six coming against Southern Utah, and already has put 12 punts inside the 20 and tallied three 50+ punts. Last season, his first at WSU, Bowlin’s 18 touchbacks on kickoffs were the most since Graham Siderius’ 18 in 2005. He also recorded 14 punts of 50+ yards and put eight punts inside the 20.
COUGARS OPEN 2014 HOSTING RUTGERS IN SEATTLE: WSU’s 2014 season-opener against Rutgers University has been moved up to Thursday, August 28. The game will be played at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. The game was previously scheduled for Friday, August 29. Rutgers begins play in the Big Ten Conference next season. The Cougars will make the return the trip to face the Scarlet Knights in Piscataway, N.J. Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015.
WILSON, YOST JOIN COUGAR COACHING STAFF: The 2013 Washington State coaching staff owns a pair of new faces in linebackers coach Ken Wilson and inside wide receivers coach David Yost. Wilson comes to WSU after spending the past 20-plus seasons at the University of Nevada. Yost joins Mike Leach’s offensive staff after working on Gary Pinkel’s University of Missouri staff as the recruiting coordinator and quarterbacks coach the past 12 seasons, including the Tigers inaugural season in the SEC in 2012.
BUCANNON GARNERS PRESEASON ACCOLADES: Deone Bucannon was named to the Jim Thorpe Award 2013 watch list, the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame and Jim Thorpe Association announced in July. Bucannon is one of 48 players included on the watch list for the award that honors the nation’s best defensive back. The Fairfield, Calif. native was an All-Pac-12 second team selection last season after making a team-high 106 tackles, tied for second-most in the Pac-12 and was the highest total by any non-linebacker. Bucannon also made a team-best four interceptions including a two-interception performance against Oregon. Bucannon posted seven double-digit tackle performances including a 17-tackle game at Arizona State. Priot to the season, Bucannon was named to the Preseason All-Pac-12 Second Team by both Athlon Sports and Phil Steel Magazine and was also named to the Preseason All-America Fourth Team by Athlon Sports.
BOWLIN, FURNEY NAMED TO PRESEASON AWARD WATCH LISTS: Senior punter Mike Bowlin and senior kicker Andrew Furney were each named to preseason award watch lists this summer. Bowlin is one of 25 candidates named to the Ray Guy Award preseason watch list that honors the nation’s top collegiate punter. Bowlin averaged 41.9 yards-per-punt last season, his first with the Cougars. The Aliso Viejo, Calif. native put eight punts inside the 20, recorded 14 kicks of 50+ yards including a season long of 69. Bowlin also recorded 18 touchbacks on kickoffs, the most by a Cougar since 2005. For the second straight season, Furney is one of the 30 players named to the Lou Groza College Place-Kicker Award Watch List. Furney, a Groza Award semifinalist in 2011, earned second team All-Pac-12 accolades along with Phil Steele Midseason second team All-American honors last season after going 14-for-20 on field goal attempts. The Burlington, Wash. native was a perfect 7-for-7 on attempts inside 30 yards and 6-of-10 on kicks outside of 40 yards including a conference-best 60-yarder against Eastern Washington. Furney went 25-of-26 on PATs.