WASHINGTON STATE vs. WASHINGTON
12:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 29
Husky Stadium (70,138)
COUGARS HEAD TO SEATTLE FOR FRIDAY APPLE CUP: Washington State heads to Seattle for the Apple Cup Friday at 12:30 p.m. on FOX. This will be the 106th meeting between the two programs.
MIKE LEACH RADIO SHOW: Washington State Head Coach Mike Leach holds a weekly radio show on WSU’s flagship station 920 KXLY. This week’s show will be Wednesday 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 146th 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.
APPLE CUP SERIES HISTORY: WSU trails the all-time series with Washington 67-32-6 but rallied from an 18-point fourth quarter deficit to take last season’s meeting, 31-28 in overtime in Pullman. The Cougars have dropped the last two meetings in Seattle and will be making their first appearance in Husky Stadium since 2009 after playing the 2011 game in CenturyLink Field. WSU’s last win over Washington in Seattle came in 2007, 42-35 behind four touchdown passes from Alex Brink, two to Brandon Gibson in the fourth quarter including the 35-yard game-winner with 31 seconds left.
COUGARS REACHING WINS MARKS AGAINST TOUGH SCHEDULE: For the first time since 2006, the Cougars reached the six-win mark and recorded four conference wins after beating Utah last Saturday. WSU also recorded consecutive conference wins for the first time since 2006 and own three conference road wins in a season for the first time since 2006. The Cougars are looking to notch its first seven-win campaign since the 2003 team went 10-3 and capped its season by beating Texas in the Holiday Bowl. According to the USA Today, WSU has played the third-toughest schedule in the country, falling by a touchdown at Auburn, winning at USC and facing Stanford and Oregon away from Martin Stadium. The combined record of the five teams WSU lost to is 43-12, four teams appear in the top-15 of the latest BCS standings.
BUCANNON A JIM THORPE AWARD SEMIFINALIST: Safety Deone Bucannon was recently named a Jim Thorpe Award Semifinalist, given to the top defensive back in college football, becoming the first Cougar to be named a semifinalist since Jason David in 2003. Bucannon enters the week leading the Pac-12 Conference with 102 tackles, becoming the first Cougar to post back-to-back 100-tackle seasons since Billy Newman (1999-2000). Bucannon made 106 tackles last season. The Fairfield, Calif. native is also tied for second in the conference with five interceptions and owns team-highs of three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He was named a Midseason All-American by SportsIllustrated.com and to the Midseason All-America second team by CBSSports.com.
BUCANNON AMONG NCAA ACTIVE CAREER TACKLE, INT LEADERS: Senior Deone Bucannon has seen his name continue to climb up both the NCAA and the WSU record books this season. He enters the week fourth in WSU history for career tackles (372) and third in career solo tackles (258). Bucannon picked off a pass in four straight weeks earlier this season and added another against Arizona State to now sits tied for third in school history with 14 career interceptions. He enters Friday as the NCAA’s active career leader in solo tackles, tied for the lead in career interceptions and fifth in total career tackles. The Fairfield, Calif. native has posted four double-digit tackle games this season and owns 16 in his career. This season, he also plays on the kickoff and punt coverage teams.
HALLIDAY AT IT AGAIN: Quarterback Connor Halliday has continued to put his name throughout the WSU record book after tallying eight 300-yard games and four 4-touchdown games this season. The Spokane native erupted for 521 yards and added three touchdown throws in the win at Cal and then blew blast those marks with WSU and Pac-12 records of 557 yards, 58 completions and 89 attempts at Oregon. He went for 488 yards and four touchdowns in the win over Utah. He owns a school record 13 career 300-yard performances, passing the previous mark of 12 held by Ryan Leaf and Alex Brink. Halliday also owns five 400-yard games, two 500-yard games and eight career four-touchdown performances. He notched his first career five-touchdown game against UCLA last season and following the SUU game, joined Alex Brink as the only Cougar QB’s with multiple five-TD games. Halliday owns 50 career touchdown passes, passing Drew Bledsoe for fifth all time WSU history. He owns 3,905 passing yards, surpassing the 3,000 yard mark against Arizona State to post the first 3,000-yard season since Alex Brink in 2007 and is closing in on Ryan Leaf’s school record of 3,968 yards set in 1997.
FURNEY DOING HIS THING: Kicker Andrew Furney 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. He had three makes in the win over Utah including a season-long 52 yarder. His career total sits at 45, the third-most makes in program history. He enters the week second in WSU history for career field goal percentage at .763 (45-59), trailing 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.
COUGAR OFFENSE TAKING OFF: The Washington State passing offense enters the week ranked fifth in the country at 372.0 ypg with quarterback Connor Halliday averaging the third-highest average in passing yards per game at 355.0 and owning the third-most passing yards in the country (3,905). The offense already owns the Pac-12 record for completions (401), surpassing the previous mark of 398 set by Arizona in 2011, and for pass attempts (639), passing last year’s mark of 624 set by WSU. The Cougars are closing in on the school record for passing yards, 4,120 set in 1997. Halliday owns two of the top three single-game passing marks in the FBS this season including the top (557). Halliday has completed a WSU single-season record 390 passes and now needs eight completions to break Nick Foles’ (Arizona) single-season Pac-12 record of 387, set in 2011. Halliday broke Foles’ conference record for pass attempts last week against Utah and now owns 597 pass attempts this season. WSU has had 10 receivers catch a pass in each of the last nine games and ten times this season.
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. The Cougars have since rushed for 113 rushing yards against Oregon State and 101 at Arizona. Jeremiah Laufasa paces the team with seven rushing touchdowns and Cougars have rushed for 10 touchdowns this season after posting six rushing scores last season. Against Southern Utah, the line hit another mark, not allowing a sack for the first time since against Utah in 2011. They turned in another highlight last week against Utah, not allowing a sack to the Utes defense that entered the week leading the country in sacks. The Cougars enter the Apple Cup with the best pass attempts-to-sack ratio in the Pac-12 Conference at 29.0 (639/22), going the longest between allowing sacks. Stanford owns the second-best ratio at 25.7 (257/10).
GABE MARKS BREAKING OUT, ADDED TO BILETNIKOFF AWARD WATCH LIST: Sophomore Gabe Marks was added to The Biletnikoff Award Watch List in early October. Marks enters the week tied for fifth in the Pac-12 with 65 receptions, 724 receiving yards and six touchdown catches. His 65 catches are the seventh-most in WSU single-season history. The Los Angeles native has led the Cougars in catches in six of the 11 contests and posted his best game of his young career, catching a WSU single-game record 13 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown at Oregon. Earlier this season he had 11 receptions for 146 yards and two touchdowns against Idaho. Last season, Marks was second on the team in receiving yards (560), third in catches (49) and caught two touchdowns.
BOSCH NAMED BURLSWORTH TROPHY NOMINEE: Redshirt-senior center Elliott Bosch was named a Burlsworth Trophy nominee, the Springdale Rotary Club announced recently. Bosch is one of 53 football student-athletes selected as nominees for the award, given to the most outstanding collegiate football player who began his career as a walk-on. Bosch walked on at WSU in 2009 and took over at center as redshirt-junior last season, starting all 12 games and playing every offensive snap. The Spokane, Wash. native has started all 11 games this season, leading an offensive line that has blocked for the country’s fifth-best passing offense and posted 10 rushing touchdowns, already surpassing last year’s total of six. Bosch was an All-Pac-12 honorable mention pick last season and earned Midseason All-Pac-12 second team honors by Phil Steele Magazine this season.
FULLINGTON KEEPS STARTING STREAK ALIVE: Senior offensive lineman and right tackle John Fullington has started in 41 straight games dating back to his freshman season in 2010 when he started the final six games. The Belfair, Wash. native has started at every position for the Cougars, except center, left tackle (7), left guard (22), right guard (5) and right tackle (7). Fullington’s streak is the third-longest by a Cougar offensive lineman, Micah Hannam (43) - Mike Utley (42) and the fourth longest among all players, defensive end Travis Long made 47 consecutive starts.
WSU DEFENSE SETTING THE TONE: The Cougars defense has posted some impressive numbers this season, holding Auburn to 99 yards passing and 4-of-13 on third down, limiting No. 25 USC to 54 yards passing, 193 yards in total offense and All-American wideout Marqise Lee to 51 all-purpose yards. The 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 third in red zone defense, fourth in third-down defense and second in the Pac-12 with 24 turnovers forced, including 14 interceptions, four returned for touchdowns.
LINEBACKERS: The Cougar’s 3-4 defense has seen its linebackers fill up the stat sheet this season. Linebackers Justin Sagote (78), Darryl Monroe (73) and Cyrus Coen (53) make up three of the Cougars top five tacklers. All three have registered a double digit tackle performance this season with Sagote making 10 stops at USC and a career-high 13 in each of the past two weeks. Coen tallied 10 against Southern Utah and Monroe set a career high with 12 tackles against Idaho. WSU’s linebackers have combined for 23.5 tackles for loss including eight sacks.
YOUTH MOVEMENT CONTINUES: The Cougars have continued their youth movement this season after seeing 17 freshmen, including nine true freshmen, make their debuts last season. Overall, WSU had 20 players make their first career start last season including five freshmen. This season has seen 10 freshman play including five true freshman. In the season-opener at Auburn, WSU started true freshman wideout River Cracraft and also saw freshman cornerback Daquawn Brown make their debuts. A week later, Brown made his first collegiate start at No. 25 USC and made a game-high 11 tackles and two pass break-ups and now owns 50 tackles (sixth-most on WSU), two interceptions and made a team-high five pass breakups. Cracraft enters the week with 34 receptions, two touchdowns and averaging 13.0 yards-per-catch. The Cougars have started eight sophomores in each game this season, four on each side of the ball and have seen 17 sophomores contribute in 2013.
SPECIAL TEAMS AMONG PAC-12 LEADERS: The Cougars kickoff and punt return teams saw improvement last season and both have continued the trend 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, Rickey Galvin owns a 22.4 kickoff return average, third-best in the Pac-12. 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 fifth in the Pac-12 at 9.5 ypr, 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 season, blocking its first punt (Theron West vs. Oregon State) since 2007.
HORTON MAKES THE HOUSE CALL(S): Senior cornerback Damante Horton returned an interception for a touchdown two straight weeks earlier this season (USC, Southern Utah) and added another this past week against Utah. The Oakland, Calif. native owns four career interception returns for touchdowns, passing Jason David for the most in WSU history. Horton’s first career pick-6 came at Oregon in 2011. Horton was named the Pac-12 Conference Defensive Player of the Week following his two-interception performance in the win at No. 25 USC. Trailing 7-0 late in the first half, Horton picked off a Cody Kessler pass and raced 70 yards for the touchdown. 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 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 owns nine career interceptions and has picked off five passes this season.
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.
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.