Sept. 13, 2010
PULLMAN, Wash. -
SMU Mustangs (1-1)
September 18, 2010 Ford Stadium 12:30 p.m. (PT)
TV: CBS College Sports
Radio: Washington State ISP Sports Network
SATURDAY'S GAME: The Washington State University football team is looking for its second-straight win in 2010, and a second-straight win over SMU, Saturday (Sept. 18), at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas, Texas. Kickoff between the Cougars and Mustangs is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. (PT), and the game will be televised live by CBS College Sports.
CBS COLLEGE SPORTS TO TELEVISE WSU-SMU: CBS College Sports will televise Saturday's game between Washington State and SMU with Roger Twibell calling play-by-play and Mike Leach serving as the analyst.
WSU vs. SMU - THE SERIES: This is just the second meeting between Washington State and SMU. Last year the Cougars came back from a 17-point third-quarter deficit (24-7) to defeat the Mustangs 30-27 in overtime at Martin Stadium.
WSU VS. CONFERENCE USA: Last year's victory over the Mustangs is the Cougars' only game played against Conference USA, though WSU is 3-2 against current members of the league. Including last year's victory over SMU, the Cougars have won two-straight over teams from the league. WSU also defeated Houston (24-22) in the 1988 Aloha Bowl.
ON THE LEG OF GRASU: Each of WSU's last three victories can largely be attributed to the clutch kicking of senior Nico Grasu. As a sophomore in 2008, Grasu kicked a 28-yard, game-tying field goal as time expired against Washington in the Apple Cup, and was perfect on his two overtime attempts, including the 37-yard game-winner in the second session (16-13). Last season against the Mustangs, Grasu nailed a 39-yard field goal in overtime to give the Cougars a 30-27 victory. And last week against Montana State, the senior nailed an 18-yard field goal with 2:13 left in the fourth quarter, putting the Cougars up 23-22, the game's final margin.
COUGAR COMEBACKS: WSU's comeback from a 15-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter against Montana State is the largest comeback for a victory when trailing at the start of the final stanza since erasing a 21-point (42-21) deficit against Stanford, Oct. 20, 1984.
COUGARS EARN PRESEASON HONORS: The Washington State University football team was represented by four student-athletes on the Phil Steele Preseason All-Pacific-10 Conference Teams. Junior linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis and sophomore defensive end Travis Long garnered third-team honors and were joined by junior defensive tackle Brandon Rankin, who was a fourth-team selection. Offensively, senior tackle Micah Hannam was named to the fourth team.
COUGARS IN TEXAS: The Cougars have a combined 4-10 record when playing in the state of Texas. WSU's last win in Texas came at the 2001 Sun Bowl, a 33-27 win over Purdue in El Paso.
BIG LEG: Senior kicker Nico Grasu's 56-yard field goal in the second quarter against Oklahoma State was a career long, and the sixth-longest field goal in school history. It was the longest by a Cougar kicker since Rian Lindell's 57-yarder against Boise State, Sept. 27, 1997, and the first WSU field goal of 50 or more yards since Lindell's 50-yarder against Oregon State, Oct. 30, 1999.
NCAA'S BEST GO HEAD-TO-HEAD: This week's WSU-SMU game boasts kickers with the longest two field goals in NCAA FBS so far this season. WSU's Nico Grasu had a 56-yarder at Oklahoma State to open the season only to see SMU's Matt Szymanski connect on a 61-yarder the next day against Texas Tech. Those kicks remained the two longest entering this weekend's play.
STARTING STALWART: Since WSU's 2007 season-opener against Wisconsin, Micah Hannam has started every game the Cougars have played. The redshirt senior has started 39-straight games, all of which at right tackle. The streak is the longest by a Cougar offensive lineman since Mike Utley started 42 in a row from 1985-88. Hannam is tied for the longest starting streak in the conference with Arizona center Colin Baxter.
NEWCOMERS SEEING TIME: Of the 60 players to see the field against Oklahoma State, 24 were making their debuts with the Cougars, or 40 percent. The Cougars played seven true freshmen - after playing just six in all of 2009 - and nine redshirt freshmen. Six players also made their starting debuts for the Cougars, including redshirt freshman cornerback Nolan Washington, redshirt junior defensive tackle Brandon Rankin, redshirt senior running back James Montgomery, redshirt sophomore tight end Andrei Lintz, junior offensive tackle David Gonzales and junior offensive guard Wade Jacobson.
PUNTING HIS WAY TO THE TOP: With nine punts against Oklahoma State, redshirt senior punter Reid Forrest moved into second place on WSU's career punts list, passing Gavin Hedrick (217; 1974-77) on the all-time list. Forrest now has 222 career punts, and now trails only Kyle Basler (255; 2002-05) for the most in school history. Forrest is also inching his way to the top of the list for all-time punt yards. He has 9,318 for his career, third on the all-time list behind Basler (10,794) and Hedrick (9,409). His punting average of 42.0 ranks third all-time amongst punters with more than 150 career punts, behind Hedrick (43.4) and Basler (42.3).
MONTGOMERY ON THE MEND: Senior running back James Montgomery is inching his way back to 100 percent following a devastating leg injury that threatened to end his career last season. Following the SMU contest last year, the Cougars' third game of the season, Montgomery went to the emergency room with swelling in his lower leg. He was immediately rushed into the operating table suffering from acute compartment syndrome, where blood flow to the muscle is restricted. Saving Montgomery's leg was the priority and football was a distant thought. After almost a year of rehab, and another surgery on his opposite knee, Montgomery sits atop the Cougar depth chart at running back. In his first start since the injury, Montgomery rushed for 32 yards on 10 carries at Oklahoma State. He followed that performance by gaining 116 yards on 20 carries against Montana State. Montgomery was also the last Cougar back to rush for 100 yards, gaining 118 against Hawaii last year.
WSU AGAINST NONCONFERENCE FOES: Since the opening of the 2001 season, WSU is 21-7 against unranked nonconference opponents. WSU has wins over Idaho (seven times), Nevada (twice), Montana State (3 times), Boise State, Purdue, New Mexico, Colorado, Grambling State, Baylor, Portland State and SMU.
NWACHUKWU A LOWE'S CANDIDATE: Washington State University senior Chima Nwachukwu was one of 30 NCAA® football bowl subdivision student-athletes candidates for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award in football. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. A 2009 ESPN The Magazine Second Team Academic All-American, Nwachukwu is a three-year starter for the Cougars, playing both the safety and cornerback positions. A native of Allen, Texas, the senior posted a 4.0 GPA during his sophomore and junior years and served as WSU's 2009-10 Student-Athlete Advisory Committee president. Additionally, Nwachukwu has assisted in several community outreach programs, including the Cougs Helping Haiti Fundraiser, Nike Shoe Drive and Reading Buddies, a program where student-athletes volunteer once a week to read to elementary school students. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.