For the first time since 2018, the Washington State Cougars have beaten a AP ranked team. They moved to 2-0 on the season after a physical 17-14 victory over the No. 19 Wisconsin Badgers. Their performance was far from perfect, but the Cougs did just enough to escape Camp Randall Stadium.
The Badgers held onto the ball nearly twice as long as the Cougars. Wisconsin also outgained Washington State 401-251 in total yards. They tied in turnovers committed with three. All signs suggest the Badgers should have won the game. Yet, WSU was the team celebrating at midfield when the clock struck zero.
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) September 10, 2022
After a scoreless first quarter on both sides, the Cougs opened up the scoring with a two-yard touchdown by Nakia Watson. The Badgers then responded with two touchdowns before halftime. Badgers QB Graham Mertz threw both touchdowns to Clay Cundiff.
In the second half, the Cougs managed to get a field goal on its opening drive. Then, Washington State found a moment of brilliance. Trailing 14-10, Cameron Ward checked the ball down to Watson in the flat, and the RB took it 31 yards for a TD.
Nakia Watson gives Cougs the lead! 👀
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) September 10, 2022
The Cougars defense remained strong after that. It held the Badgers scoreless in their final two drive when they were within field goal range.
Washington State’s defense did a brilliant job making the Badgers offense work methodically. Badgers star running back Braelon Allen didn’t break any runs longer than 17 yards. Meanwhile, it only allowed one completed pass over 30 yards. Their constant physical pressure at the line of scrimmage and speed in the secondary kept the Badgers’ offense relatively contained.
On the flip side, WSU’s offense wasn’t very good. Ward only completed 17 of 28 pass for 200 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Also, the Cougars’ running backs Watson and Jaylen Jenkins only ran for 60 yards and one TD on 16 carries. In spite of all the consistency issues, Washington State’s offense fought and capitalized on its opportunities.
The Cougars also had some good fortune as well. Wisconsin kicker Vito Calvaruso had an awful day. He shanked two field goal attempts; including one that would have tied the game at 17 to begin the fourth quarter. Also, Washington State WR Lincoln Victor saved the day with this play immediately after Ward’s second interception.
— Derek Deis (@DerekKXLY) September 10, 2022
The Cougars would score the game-winning touchdown six plays after this incredible sequence.
After a lackluster 24-17 victory over Idaho last week, it was hard to predict what WSU would look like against a major step up in competition. Well, they forcefully answered that question, and will be riding a large wave of momentum into next week’s matchup against Colorado State.