Nov 26, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington State Cougars running back Deon McIntosh (3) and Washington Huskies linebacker Carson Bruener (42) during the first quarter at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Miami faces uncertain road to meet Wazzu in Sun Bowl

It appears the Miami Hurricanes won’t get to take part in most of the Sun Bowl’s pregame trappings — if they even make it to El Paso, Texas, at all.

A COVID-19 outbreak, with more than 10 players reportedly testing positive, cast a doubt on whether the Hurricanes (7-5) would be able to meet Washington State (7-5) on New Year’s Eve in one of college football’s oldest bowl games.

The Hurricanes were scheduled to travel to El Paso this weekend, but now they might make the trip as late as Dec. 30, Sun Bowl chairman John Folmer told the Miami Herald.

“We’re not looking for anyone else to play but Miami. The people in El Paso are buying tickets because of Miami. People in El Paso follow Miami,” Folmer said.

“If the game was (the week before Christmas), we wouldn’t have them. We told them we’d wait until whenever they could get here, and they responded by saying, ‘We’re going to do the best we can to make it happen, and we’ll arrive when we can, even if it’s one day before the game.”‘

The Hurricanes will be led by interim coach Jess Simpson, even though Mario Cristobal has already been hired to replace the fired Manny Diaz.

Miami has won five of its past six games, scoring 31 or more points in each of the victories.

Freshman quarterback Tyler Van Dyke averaged 365.6 passing yards and threw for 20 touchdowns and just three interceptions in those six games, earning the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Newcomer of the Year award.

“I told myself I was just going to go out there and start playing with confidence,” Van Dyke said. “My teammates have supported me and helped me the rest of the way. I’m very grateful for that.”

Leading receiver Charleston Rambo (79 catches for 1,172 yards and seven touchdowns) has opted out of the bowl game to prepare for the NFL draft, as has defensive tackle Jon Ford.

The same can be said for Washington State’s leading rusher, Max Borghi (880 yards and 12 touchdowns), right tackle Abraham Lucas and cornerback Jaylen Watson.

“We had a lot of conversations about it, and we obviously wish them the best of luck, and we support them,” Cougars coach Jake Dickert said. “Everyone has their own individual situations.”

Deon McIntosh, a Miami-area native, is expected to get most of the carries in Borghi’s absence.

The Cougars could be missing two other members of their offensive line, as left tackle Liam Ryan has been dealing with an unspecified injury and right guard Cade Beresford transferred to Boise State.

Washington State won six of their last eight regular-season games, including snapping a seven-game losing streak in the Apple Cup with a 40-13 victory against rival Washington. Borghi rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns in that game.

Dickert became the interim coach after Nick Rolovich was dismissed Oct. 18 for failing to comply with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s mandate that all state employees be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Dickert was named the permanent coach the day after the Apple Cup.

The Cougars and Hurricanes have met once before, in the 2015 Sun Bowl. Washington State built an early lead and held on to win 20-14 as the fourth quarter was played in blizzard-like conditions.

–Field Level Media

Nov 26, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington State Cougars head coach Jake Dickert reacts to a penalty for the Washington Huskies during the third quarter at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Wazzu to make Jake Dickert permanent coach

Washington State is set to remove the interim tag and make Jake Dickert its permanent head coach, Sports Illustrated and On3 reported Saturday night.

Dickert, 38, was named the interim head coach on Oct. 18 after the school fired Nick Rolovich for refusing to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, a state mandate. Dickert was defensive coordinator on Rolovich’s staff.

Dickert led the Cougars to a 3-2 record since the upheaval, including Friday night’s 40-13 rout of rival Washington. It marked Wazzu’s first win in the Apple Cup series since 2012 and its first in Seattle since 2007.

The Cougars finish the regular season 7-5 overall.

Dickert has never been a head coach in FBS.

–Field Level Media

Oct 23, 2021; Pullman, Washington, USA; Washington State Cougars head coach interim Jake Dickert reacts after a play during a game against the Brigham Young Cougars in the second half at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. BYU won 21-19. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

WSU heads into Apple Cup vs. Washington with plenty at stake

After beating lowly Arizona last week, Washington State interim coach Jake Dickert said last Friday, “There’s still a lot to play for.”

He was alluding to the Apple Cup rivalry against Washington and the Cougars’ impending bowl game.

A day later, when Oregon lost, Dickert could add a potential Pac-12 North championship to the list of things his team could still accomplish.

With a WSU victory in Seattle on Friday, and an Oregon State win over Oregon on Saturday, the Cougars would tie for first place atop the division with the Ducks and Beavers. Washington State would hold the tiebreaker with a 4-1 record in divisional play and would advance to the Pac-12 title game in Las Vegas on Dec. 3.

That would be quite an achievement considering coach Nick Rolovich was fired last month for not following the state’s COVID-19 mandate.

“They never quit on themselves,” Dickert said of the players. “After everything happened with the coaching change, the captains came together and said, ‘We will change the momentum. We will move forward, and we will keep pressing.’

“I told them, ‘Do it for you guys, do it for the bond you formed in the locker room and do it for what you guys have accomplished here.’”

Moreover, the way the Cougars’ players have responded under Dickert’s leadership has led to growing sentiment that WSU would be hard-pressed not to remove the “interim” tag from his title, particularly if they beat the Huskies. Washington State is 2-2 under Dickert, with the two losses coming to BYU and Oregon (a combined 18-4 this season).

One accomplishment that has eluded these Cougars is a victory in the Apple Cup. They have lost seven straight games in the series, all by double digits, and have not won in Seattle since 2007.

“I want to win this game so bad,” said sixth-year WSU linebacker Jahad Woods, “not only for the teammates that I have now and the coaches I have now, but for my teammates that didn’t win it these past five years that I’ve been a part of playing in the Apple Cup.

“It’s something that’s super important to me and I’m not going to take this week lightly.”

The Huskies (4-7, 3-5) have failed to qualify for a bowl game for the first time since 2009 and coach Jimmy Lake was fired.

So, it’s a pair of interim coaches leading their teams into the 113th meeting of the cross-state rivals (Washington holds a 74-32-6 edge).

Bob Gregory, in his eighth season on the Huskies’ staff, leads Washington as head coach for the third game, having come close against Arizona State and Colorado, but falling by one late possession each time.

He is familiar with both sides of the rivalry, having played linebacker at WSU (1984-86).

“We’re all mercenaries anyway as coaches,” Gregory said when asked about his allegiance. “Whoever pays us and puts food on our table for our kids, that’s who we’re rooting for.”

Gregory was also asked about the plan for heralded freshman quarterback Sam Huard, who could still retain his redshirt even if he played Friday against the Cougars. Might Huard start?

“I could (tell you) but I’d have to kill you,” Gregory joked. “So, no. I’m not going to divulge … no injuries, no quarterback updates.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2021; Eugene, Oregon, USA; Oregon Ducks running back Byron Cardwell (21) runs for a touchdown during the second half against the Washington State Cougars at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

No. 3 Oregon breaks away to beat Washington State

Quarterback Anthony Brown accounted for 258 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns as No. 3 Oregon pulled away from a halftime tie to defeat Washington State 38-24 on Saturday in Eugene, Ore.

Brown rushed for 123 yards and one score and threw for 135 yards and another touchdown. Byron Cardwell (two touchdowns) and Travis Dye Jr. (one score) ran for 98 and 88 yards, respectively, as the Ducks (9-1, 6-1 Pac-12) amassed 306 yards on the ground to 91 for the Cougars.

Quarterback Jayden de Laura threw for 280 yards and two touchdowns for Washington State, which outgained Oregon 233-157 in the first half en route to a 14-14 tie.

The Ducks wasted little time taking control in the third quarter, however. Brown capped a five-play, 43-yard drive with a 17-yard burst for a 21-14 lead, and Camden Lewis added a 22-yard field goal after 13-play, 91-yard march down the field late in the period.

The Cougars didn’t score again until Dean Janikowski’s 34-yard field goal with 8:31 left in the game.

Oregon went right back to work, with Cardwell scoring on rushes of 27 yards and 22 yards that came about 3 1/2 minutes apart to extend the lead to 38-17 with 2:07 remaining.

de Laura found Travell Harris for a 2-yard touchdown pass with nine seconds left to complete the scoring.

Washington State’s first-half touchdowns came on de Lauria’s 14-yard pass to De’Zhaun Stribling midway through the second quarter, and de Lauria’s 1-yard run with 11 seconds left before the break.

Oregon finished with 441 total yards to 371 for Washington State.

Oregon, which has a two-game lead on Washington State and Oregon State in the Pac-12 North, travels to face Utah, which is also 6-1, next weekend. Washington goes home to face Arizona.

–Field Level Media

Nov 6, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Oregon Ducks running back Travis Dye (26) celebrates with fans following a 26-16 victory against the Washington Huskies at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

No. 3 Oregon attempts to keep rising vs. Washington St.

The College Football Playoff committee kept the Oregon Ducks on track for a spot in the national semifinals, voting them No. 3 and moving them up a spot when the rankings were revealed Tuesday night.

Now the Ducks (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12) can put some distance between themselves and the rest of the conference’s North Division with a win over Washington State on Saturday night in Eugene, Ore.

A victory would give the Ducks a two-game lead in the North over the next-best team, not to mention keep them in contention for the Pac-12 championship game and a major bowl game if not the CFP semifinals.

Oregon has won four straight games and is coming off a 26-16 victory over Washington in Seattle last week. The Ducks rushed for 329 yards and held the Huskies to 166 yards of total offense.

Travis Dye ran for a career-high 211 yards with a touchdown. His 211 rushing yards were the most in a game by a Pac-12 player this year, and Oregon is 15-1 all-time when Dye scores a touchdown.

Dye has 11 rushing touchdowns this season.

“He’s a game-changer,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said, “and he changed it in a lot of different ways.

“The guy’s the ultimate competitor. The pride that he takes in the course of the week, in the preparation and then I wish you could see him behind the scenes as a leader and the amount of energy and passion generated and the way he addresses, encourages, talks, pushes and challenges his teammates is really special. We’re getting to enjoy all of the fruits of his labor.”

Washington State (5-4, 4-2) comes into Eugene having won four of its past five games. The Cougars are 1-1 since Nick Rolovich was fired as head coach over his refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19, which went against regulations for Washington state employees.

The one win came on Oct. 30 at Arizona State, 34-21, with the Cougars in control from start to finish. Under interim head coach Jake Dickert, Washington State is looking for its first win over a Top 25 team since a victory over No. 24 Iowa State in the 2018 Alamo Bowl, the first win over a Top 10 team since beating No. 5 USC at home in 2017, and the first road win over a Top 10 team since defeating No. 6 Texas in the 2003 Holiday Bowl.

Cougars quarterback Jayden de Laura leads the Pac-12 with 17 touchdown passes, is second in passing yards per game (245.9) and has four three-touchdown games this season.

The Washington State defense leads the Pac-12 and is tied for fifth in the country with 20 takeaways, and the Cougars are tied for second place in the nation with 11 fumble recoveries.

“When you look at Oregon, the biggest thing in why I have such high regard and respect for their program is it’s not just good players,” Dickert said. “They’re coached well, their schemes are very detailed. They win the game at the line of scrimmage. They don’t beat themselves. Our guys are going to be ready to meet that challenge come Saturday night.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 16, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) calls out a play in the first quarter against the Utah Utes at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Wazzu, Arizona State try to keep focus on field

Washington State and Arizona State, two Pac-12 programs rocked by off-the-field developments this season, will try to find themselves on the field at Tempe, Ariz., on Saturday.

The Cougars (4-4, 3-2 Pac-12) lost to BYU 21-19 last week at Pullman, Wash., in their first game under Jake Dickert. The former defensive coordinator was elevated to interim head coach after Nick Rolovich and four assistants were fired for not complying with the Washington mandate that all state employees be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Arizona State (5-2, 3-1) is under investigation for recruiting violations, and assistant coaches Prentice Gill, Chris Hawkins and Adam Breneman have all been placed on paid leave.

The Sun Devils’ bye last week came at an opportune time following a disappointing 35-21 loss at Utah on Oct. 16 after the Arizona State led 21-7 at halftime.

Arizona State is healthier than it was for the Utah game.

Cornerback Chase Lucas and wide receiver Johnny Wilson are expected to play against Washington State, while safety Evan Fields will be a game-time decision. All are returning from injuries.

“We got a lot of guys back,” Sun Devils coach Herm Edwards said. “We’ve lost some pretty good players, especially on the D-line that are gone. That’s just how it goes. Every team has that. That’s what you deal with.”

Lucas, a senior who has played in 46 games since 2017, missed games on Sept. 25 and Oct. 16.

Wilson, a redshirt freshman, has missed each of the past three games.

Fields, a senior, sat out two of the past three games.

Washington State and Arizona State each lost to both BYU and Utah, although the Cougars’ setbacks were by closer margins. Washington State’s 24-13 loss at Utah occurred last month.

The Cougars’ three-game winning streak was snapped in the loss to BYU despite three rushing touchdowns by Max Borghi.

Jayden de Laura, a sophomore recruited from Honolulu by Rolovich, completed 26 of 37 passes for 257 yards, but he didn’t throw a touchdown pass and had an interception.

“It’s a little bit learning on the fly,” Dickert said of his first experience as a head coach. “I felt it was really smooth. For the most part we operated as a staff.”

Dickert must now prepare for an Arizona State offense that is balanced with dual-threat quarterback Jayden Daniels and running backs Rachaad White (477 yards rushing and nine touchdowns), Daniyel Ngata (253 yards) and DeaMonte Trayanum (215 yards).

Arizona State is tied for seventh in the nation with 22 rushing touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Oct 16, 2021; Pullman, Washington, USA; Washington State Cougars head coach Nick Rolovich celebrates after a game against the Stanford Cardinal at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. The Cougars won 34-31. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Ex-Washington State coach Nick Rolovich to sue over firing

Former Washington State coach Nick Rolovich will pursue legal action against the university for illegal termination, in part because of “discriminatory and vindictive behavior” by athletic director Pat Chun, his attorney said Wednesday.

Washington State fired Rolovich and four assistant coaches Monday after they failed to comply with Gov. Jay Inslee’s mandate that required all state employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Rolovich was the state’s highest-paid employee at $3.2 million per year.

Rolovich, 42, had filed a request for a religious exemption to the mandate that all employees in the state become vaccinated by Oct. 19, but his request — reviewed anonymously — was denied.

Chun on Monday said Rolovich’s firing is for cause separation, meaning the university does not plan to pay him.

“It is a tragic and damning commentary on our culture and more specifically on Chun that Coach Rolovich has been derided, demonized and ultimately fired from his job merely for being devout in his Catholic faith,” Brian Fahling, who represents Rolovich, said in a statement obtained by ESPN and Yahoo.

“… Since at least early April, it became clear that Chun had already determined that Coach Rolovich would be fired,” the statement read. “Chun’s animus toward Coach Rolovich’s sincerely held religious beliefs, and Chun’s dishonesty at the expense of Coach Rolovich during the past year is damning and will be thoroughly detailed in litigation. Chun’s discriminatory and vindicative (sic) behavior has caused immeasurable harm to Coach Rolovich and his family.”

It is uncertain what restitution Rolovich would be seeking against Washington State. Yahoo Sports reported Rolovich had three years and approximately $9 million left on his contract.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Pullman, Washington, USA; Washington State Cougars head coach Nick Rolovich looks on during a game against the USC Trojans in the first half at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Washington State looks to build on win streak at home vs. Stanford

Since a humbling 31-point loss at home to USC after leading by two touchdowns on Sept. 18, Washington State has become competitive in the Pac-12 North Division.

The Cougars, who led 13-10 in the fourth quarter at Utah before losing 24-13 a week after the loss to USC, have defeated California in Berkeley, Calif., and Oregon State at home in the last two weeks.

Stanford goes to Pullman, Wash., on Saturday, and Washington State is hoping to keep its momentum while the Cardinal, who lost at Arizona State last week after upsetting Oregon at home, are looking to get on a winning track.

Both teams are 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the Pac-12.

“This team deserves so much credit for what they’ve been through,” Washington State coach Nick Rolovich said. “They’ve kept grinding. The mindset of the team leadership to keep this group going is pretty incredible.”

One of the leaders is Jayden de Laura, recruited to Washington State from Honolulu after Rolovich left Hawaii to become the Cougars’ head coach before the 2020 season.

The sophomore quarterback completed 32 of 46 pass attempts for 399 yards and three touchdowns and one interception in the Cougars’ win over Oregon State, which entered the game with a 2-0 conference record.

His top target, Travell Harris, caught eight passes for 147 yards.

“He’s grown the trust of everyone in this program,” Rolovich said of de Laura. “He makes everything around him better.”

Washington State, which has beaten Oregon State eight straight times, will look to build on its four-game winning streak against Stanford. The Cardinal won eight consecutive games against the Cougars until the recent streak for Washington State that was started under former coach Mike Leach.

“We all know, our conference is insane,” Stanford coach David Shaw said after losing to Arizona State after upsetting Oregon. “The idea that we go too far and celebrate one victory, that does us no good.

“We have to block everything out and concentrate on Washington State because that is a good football team.”

The Cardinal and Cougars are geared toward the pass.

Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee threw for 356 yards and a touchdown, but he also had his first three interceptions of the season in the loss at Arizona State.

Elijah Higgins tallied 110 yards on seven catches with a touchdown, while sophomore tight end Benjamin Yurosek added 118 yards on six catches.

— Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2021; Pullman, Washington, USA; Washington State Cougars defensive back Derrick Langford (5) is called for pass interference on his play against Oregon State Beavers wide receiver Tre'Shaun Harrison (0) in the first half at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Washington St. holds on for 31-24 win over Oregon St.

Jayden de Laura threw for 399 yards and three touchdowns, and Washington State made a late defensive stand to defeat division-leading Oregon State 31-24 Saturday afternoon in a Pacific-12 Conference game in Pullman, Wash.

The Cougars (3-3, 2-2 Pac-12), who entered in last place in the North Division, stopped Oregon State after it reached the WSU 14-yard line with 1:11 remaining. The Beavers faced a fourth-and-19 play from the 23 when Chance Nolan completed a screen pass to Trey Lowe, who was stopped after an 18-yard gain by George Hicks III to turn over the ball on downs with 33 seconds left.

De Laura, who was 32-of-46 passing, threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Deon McIntosh with 5:25 remaining to break a 24-all tie. McIntosh rushed for a team-high 65 yards on 13 carries

B.J. Baylor led Oregon State (4-2, 2-1) with 145 yards rushing on 18 carries. Teammate Deshaun Fenwick added 127 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.

Nolan was 11 of 25 for 158 yards and threw two interceptions.

It was tied at 17-all heading into the fourth quarter before WSU regained the lead on a 14-yard pass from de Laura to Lincoln Victor with 13:41 remaining.

The Beavers responded with a touchdown drive of their own, with Fenwick scoring on an 11-yard run to make it 24-24 with 11:15 left.

After trailing 10-3 at the half, the Cougars took the lead with two third-quarter touchdowns.

Max Borghi scored on a 3-yard run to tie the score at 10-10 with 8:40 left in the quarter.

Oregon State drove inside the WSU 10-yard line, but a third-down pass went off the fingertips of receiver Zeriah Beason, bounced off the helmet of Cougars defensive back Derrick Langford Jr. and into the arms of teammate Brennan Jackson.

The Cougars turned that into a 55-yard touchdown pass from de Laura to Joey Hobert to take a 17-10 lead with 48 seconds left in the quarter.

The Beavers responded with Fenwick’s 15-yard touchdown run with 4 seconds left in the quarter to tie it at 17-17.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Beavers tallied on the first play of the second as Jack Colletto scored on a 2-yard run.

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; California Golden Bears quarterback Chase Garbers (7) runs with the ball as Washington Huskies defensive back Alex Cook (5) and defensive back Mishael Powell (23) move in to make a tackle during the second half of a game at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. The Huskies won 31-24 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

Cal, Washington State eye rebound from tough losses

Two teams that watched potential Pac-12 Conference victories slip through their grasp last weekend hope to finish stronger this time when Washington State visits California on Saturday afternoon in Berkeley, Calif.

The home team has won the past five meetings in the 102-year-old rivalry, with Cal prevailing 33-20 two years ago behind three touchdown passes from Devon Modster, who was subbing for the injured Chase Garbers.

Garbers already has surpassed 1,000 passing yards in four games this season, including a season-high 319 last week in a 31-24 overtime loss at Washington.

Down seven in the extra session, Cal (1-3, 0-1 Pac-12) drove to the Washington 2 before Damien Moore fumbled at the goal line, preventing the Golden Bears from potentially either tying the score with a PAT or going for the road win with a two-pointer.

“In football you’ve got to have a short memory,” Garbers said afterward. “Obviously, losing (stinks). We’ve got to learn from it and move on.”

At least the Golden Bears came out of the game relatively healthy. The same could not be said of Washington State (1-3, 0-2), which held a 13-10 lead into the final five minutes at Utah before giving up two late scores in a 24-13 defeat.

Along the way, the Cougars saw standout running back Max Borghi sprain his left wrist, and three safeties left the game, so the visitors had only two remaining healthy safeties on the roster, according to coach Nick Rolovich.

Borghi rushed for 42 yards on six carries, with a long of 18 yards, before his injury on the first snap of the second quarter. Backups Deon McIntosh and Nakia Watson combined for 60 yards on 14 tries over the final three quarters.

“Those would be the two guys,” Rolovich said of this week’s possible replacements for Borghi, who has not been ruled out. X-rays taken over the weekend were negative. “They’re both very good in pass protection, both ready to play. It’s good to have two guys ready to go.”

Borghi was the team’s leading rusher, albeit with just 19 yards, and caught eight passes for 36 yards in the loss at Cal in 2019.

He has rushed for 259 yards and two touchdowns in Washington State’s first four games. The squad has just two other rushing TDs, one coming from quarterback Jayden de Laura, who missed the Utah game with a knee injury.

He, like Borghi, remains questionable to return this week.

–Field Level Media