QUICK HITS: Washington State 35, UNLV 27

By Bryan Fischer | Blogger
Marquess Wilson dashes toward the end zone on an 81-yard touchdown catch. (US Presswire)

WASHINGTON STATE WON. The Mike Leach offense put up some points but the Cougars' (2-1) defense gave up a ton of yards and too many points against a bad UNLV team that had lost to an average FCS team at home last week. It was a game filled with mental mistakes and uncharacteristic plays as All-American wide receiver candidate Marquess Wilson dropped two possible touchdown passes and missed assignments added up on both sides of the ball to keep the game closer than expected. A win is a win but this one wasn't pretty.

HOW WASHINGTON STATE WON: Big plays and a bend-but-don't-totally-break defense allowed Wazzu to sneak out of Las Vegas with a victory. Redshirt sophomore Connor Halliday started in place of the injured Jeff Tuel and put up good numbers by throwing for 378 yards and four touchdowns as the offense looked efficient at times and sputtering otherwise. The deep ball was working well as both Wilson and freshman Gabe Marks caught 50+ yard touchdowns and six plays total had a reception of more than 15 yards.

The defensive line was pretty active all night long, with defensive end Travis Long looking like a monster to block at times on his way to a nine tackle, two sack night. The defense wasn't great overall and there will be plenty of things the Washington State staff will have to correct before opening Pac-12 play next week against Colorado.

WHEN WASHINGTON STATE WON: After a scoreless, lackluster 3rd quarter where neither team got much going, the Cougars put together a 13-play, 88-yard drive that extended their lead during the first few minutes of the 4th quarter. The offense converted a key 4th down in the Red Zone after Wilson dropped another would-be touchdown pass and Leach's gambling ways paid off as Halliday found Isiah Myers for a 13-yard gain. Leon Brooks punched in from three yards out the next play to stretch the lead to 35-20 and it felt like Wazzu had basically won the game at that point. UNLV was able to put together a solid drive on the next series but, after a review left them with 4th-and-3, the Washington State defense forced a stop to basically seal the game given the time on the clock.

WHAT WASHINGTON STATE WON: If the program wants to get back to a bowl game this season, something Leach has pretty much always done, wins like this are crucial in getting to at least six wins. With the Pac-12 looking tougher and tougher each weekend, there may not be many give-me's going forward so non-conference games on the road against inferior competition have to result in a win coming back to Pullman on the team plane.

WHAT UNLV LOST: The Rebels came close and threatened to at least make a run at an upset throughout most of the game and that is probably a sign of progress for a team that falls to 0-3 with a loss to an FCS team on its record. Nick Sherry was able to make some plays with his arm and moved around well enough to extend some plays when the defensive line came after him. Still, the defense gave up a ton of big pass plays and generally didn't provide a ton of resistance as Wazzu averaged nearly 15 yards per completion.

THAT WAS CRAZY. Outside of the fact that Mr. Sure Hands Marquess Wilson dropped a few balls, this was a pretty boring game. Yes, a Leach-coached team played in a boring game -- that's how boring it was -- which is crazy considering the Air Raid offense is known for all sorts of fun. That said, Leach did throw the ball long on the Cougars final drive and opted to go for it on 4th down to try and milk off some clock late in the 4th quarter up just 35-27. Not what most coaches would have done to say the least.

But if we're being honest, there really wasn't anything of note to come out of this game outside the fact that several Cougars fans enjoy pizza.

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