On a day that has featured some big upsets across the college football landscape, Washington State was sure to put its name on the list of unexpected results. A 17.5-point underdog, the Cougars marched into Madison and defeated No. 19 Wisconsin 17-14 with a little help from former Badgers player, Nakia Watson.
A transfer to Washington State from Wisconsin following the 2020 season, Watson came up big against his former program with 65 total yards and a pair of touchdowns -- including the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter.
It became quickly apparent that Wisconsin was in for a slugfest. The Cougars defense forced two punts and a missed field goal on the Badgers' first three drive, while the offense finally broke the scoreless stalemate nearly six minutes into the second quarter. The real turning point of the game, however, came with eight minutes left in the third quarter with Wisconsin holding a 14-10 lead. The Badgers intercepted Cougars quarterback Cameron Ward but fumbled the ball on the return, which Washington State recovered.
On the ensuing drive, Ward connected with Watson for a 31-yard touchdown pass to put the Cougars up 17-14. After taking that three-point lead, the Washington State defense went to work and shut Wisconsin out in the fourth quarter. The Cougars forced a Graham Mertz interception and recovered a Clay Cundiff fumble in their own territory to seal the victory.
The Badgers played the type of ball-control offense that has become commonplace in Madison; they held the time of possession edge by more than 20 minutes and outgained the Cougars by a wide margin (401-253). However, they were largely unable to capitalize on their offensive possessions.
While it was a day of missed chances for Wisconsin, now 1-1 on the season, this was a signature win for first-year coach Washington State coach Jake Dickert. Washington State is now 2-0 and will host Colorado State in Week 3. Wisconsin will try to get back on track against New Mexico State.