Nov 26, 2022; Pullman, Washington, USA; Washington State Cougars quarterback Cameron Ward (1) is caught from behind by Washington Huskies defensive lineman Bralen Trice (8) in first half at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Penix Jr., No. 13 Washington win points fest over Washington St.

Michael Penix Jr. passed for 485 yards and three touchdowns and added two rushing scores to lead No. 13 Washington to a 51-33 victory over Apple Cup-rival Washington State on Saturday night in Pac-12 play at Pullman, Wash.

Penix, who completed 25 of 43 passes, became the second quarterback in Huskies’ history to throw for more than 4,000 yards in a season. His total sits at 4,353, trailing only Cody Pickett (4,458 in 2002).

Jalen McMillan caught six passes for 150 yards and one touchdown, and Rome Odunze had five receptions for 157 yards and scored two touchdowns — one receiving, one rushing — for Washington (10-2, 7-2 Pac-12). Wayne Taulapapa rushed for 126 yards and one score for the Huskies, who won their sixth consecutive game.

Cameron Ward completed 33 of 52 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for a score for the Cougars (7-5, 4-5), who had a three-game winning streak halted.

Nakia Watson accounted for two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving) for Washington State, which had 433 offensive yards.

Washington converted 11 of 13 third-down attempts while rolling up 703 yards of total offense, third in program history.

The Huskies won the Apple Cup for the 18th time in the past 24 meetings. The 84 combined points is the most in the rivalry.

Penix threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to McMillan on the first play of the third quarter to give Washington a 35-27 lead.

Watson scored on a 4-yard run with 6:31 left in the period, but Ward’s two-point conversion run failed.

Odunze scored on a 5-yard jet sweep with 14:30 left in the game, and Peyton Henry booted a 20-yard field goal to make it an 11-point margin with 5:02 left. Taulapapa sealed it with a 40-yard touchdown run with 1:28 left.

Washington had 326 yards in the first half while holding a 28-27 lead. The Cougars had 304 in the half.

Penix threw a 26-yard scoring pass to Ja’Lynn Polk for a 7-3 lead with 5:23 left in the first quarter. Ward scampered in from 14 yards to give Washington State a three-point lead with 53 seconds remaining.

Penix connected on a 47-yard touchdown pass to Odunze to put the Huskies back ahead 93 seconds into the second quarter. But the Cougars answered with Ward’s 34-yard pass to Robert Ferrel to take a 17-14 advantage with 11:05 left in the half.

A trick play in which Penix caught a backward pass from McMillan and ran 30 yards for a score put the Huskies back ahead. Washington State responded with Ward’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Watson to take a 24-21 lead with 5:07 remaining in the half.

Penix scored on a 4-yard run as the Huskies again moved ahead. Dean Janikowski kicked a 29-yard field goal as time expired to move Washington State within one.

–Field Level Media

Nov 12, 2022; Pasadena, California, USA;  Arizona Wildcats quarterback Jayden de Laura (7) passes the ball in the first half against the UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona QB, make it ‘personal’ with Washington State

“It’s Personal” serves as the Arizona football slogan in 2022. The sentiment certainly applies to quarterback Jayden de Laura in Saturday’s matchup against Washington State in Tucson, Ariz.

De Laura was the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year last season with the Cougars, but Washington State went in a different direction. The Cougars brought in FCS star Cameron Ward, who followed his head coach at Incarnate Word, Eric Morris, to Pullman. Morris is WSU’s offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach.

De Laura, meanwhile, looked around for greener grass, finding it at quarterback-needy Arizona.

“Just watch,” de Laura said of this week’s game. “It’s personal.”

De Laura has been a game-changer at Arizona, ranking sixth nationally in passing yards (312.8 per game). His ability to extend plays was critical last Saturday as the Wildcats (4-6, 2-5 Pac-12) upset then-No. 12 UCLA 34-28 in Pasadena. Arizona needs to beat Washington State and then Arizona State to become bowl eligible after going 1-11 in 2021.

Ward already has helped lead the Cougars (6-4, 3-4) to bowl eligibility. He is passing for 257.9 yards per game, but defense has been more of the team’s calling card of late. Washington State has allowed more than 24 points in just two games (Oregon, Southern California) this season.

The Cougars rank 20th nationally in scoring defense at 19.8 points per game. Coach Jake Dickert said he expects a challenge from de Laura, acknowledging that he had seen the quarterback’s comments this week.

“I’ve always been really impressed with what Jayden can do,” Dickert said. “I appreciate everything he’s done for us. … Sometimes change is good for everybody.”

Arizona, which lost starting left tackle Jordan Morgan for the rest of the season due to a reported knee injury last week, will be trying to win consecutive games for the first time since early October 2019.

“We need to find a way to get grounded quick,” said coach Jedd Fisch. “Our guys, they seem very grounded. They seem focused on trying to get another one.”

–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

Nick Rolovich sues Washington State over vaccine-related dismissal

Former Washington State head football coach Nick Rolovich filed a lawsuit against the university, its athletic director Pat Chun and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee seeking damages after he was dismissed last season for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Washington State fired Rolovich and four of his assistant coaches for cause in October 2021 because they didn’t comply with the state’s vaccine mandate at the time. All state employees were required to be vaccinated by Oct. 19 of that year.

Rolovich had applied for a religious exemption and was denied.

Rolovich’s attorney, Brian Fahling, said in October 2021 that his client planned to pursue legal action. A tort claim was filed earlier this year as a prerequisite for the 32-page lawsuit, which was officially filed Friday.

It was originally reported by the Seattle Times that Rolovich sought $25 million in damages in the claim, but the suit does not specify how much he is seeking.

“Mr. Rolovich’s lawsuit against Washington State University is wholly without merit,” a school spokesperson said in a statement to multiple outlets.

“Washington State University carried out the Governor’s COVID-19 vaccination proclamation for state employees in a fair and lawful manner, including in its evaluation of employee requests for medical or religious exemptions and accommodations. For multiple reasons, Mr. Rolovich did not qualify, and the university firmly stands by that decision. Washington State University will vigorously defend itself against Mr. Rolovich’s claims.”

Rolovich was the state’s highest-paid employee at $3.2 million per year. Yahoo Sports reported at the time of his firing that Rolovich had three years and approximately $9 million left on his contract.

–Field Level Media

Nov 5, 2022; Stanford, California, USA; Washington State Cougars running back Nakia Watson (25) rushes for a touchdown against the Stanford Cardinal during the second quarter at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Washington State rolls into matchup with Arizona State

It is not hard to find numbers that suggest Arizona State and host Washington State are evenly matched, especially on offense, going into their Pac-12 game Saturday at Pullman, Wash.

Both teams are 2-4 in conference play and are seventh and eighth in points scored and yards gained, with both categories slightly favoring Arizona State.

Yet Washington State (5-4 overall) has allowed only 20 points per game, vs. 31.1 for the Sun Devils (3-6), who couldn’t stop UCLA in a 50-36 loss at Tempe, Ariz., last weekend. In particular, the Bruins rushed for 402 of their 571 total yards.

Not that Washington State coach Jake Dickert expects it to be so easy for his team.

“I think Arizona State is a talented defense,” Dickert said. “I think it’s rare for them to give up that type of yardage, but I think there are some opportunities that we need to take advantage of in the run game, but more importantly, do it with our style and our way.”

The Cougars’ way starts with running back Nakia Watson, who has 491 yards rushing among his 668 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns.

In Washington State’s 52-14 blowout of host Stanford over the weekend, Watson ran for 166 yards and a score. Quarterback Cameron Ward threw for 176 yards and two touchdowns, part of his 2,360 yards passing this season.

“They’ll be in four wides a lot, spread you out, throw the ball around,” Sun Devils defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson said.

Henderson is aware the Sun Devils need “to make sure we don’t give the same looks in the secondary and making sure we disguise a little bit more.”

Arizona State has its own weapon in running back Xazavian Valladay, who piled up 92 yards rushing and two scores while making 10 catches for 89 yards against UCLA. Not that Dickert needed any convincing about Valladay, who has 1,061 yards from scrimmage 14 touchdowns (852 and 12 on the ground) this season.

“I’m very familiar with X,” Dickert said. “My three years at Wyoming (as assistant coach), X was one of the best tailbacks in the country. … He’s been phenomenal. He’s perfect for the (Sun Devils’) zone scheme running attack, and just like Nakia for us, always knew he could be a great pass threat.”

In his fifth collegiate season, Valladay has 4,926 yards from scrimmage (4,133 rushing) and 35 touchdowns (31 on the ground).

–Field Level Media

Oct 29, 2022; Pasadena, California, USA;   Stanford Cardinal quarterback Tanner McKee (18) is pressured by UCLA Bruins defensive lineman Gabriel Murphy (11) in the second half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Washington State, Stanford look to fix offensive woes

Washington State and Stanford enter Saturday’s Pac-12 game at Palo Alto, Calif., aiming to correct their struggles on offense.

Stanford (3-5, 1-5 Pac-12) is coming off a 38-13 loss at then-No. 12 UCLA as Cardinal quarterback Tanner McKee passed for only 115 yards with an interception while completing 13-of-29 attempts.

Washington State (4-4, 1-4) is in the midst of a three-game losing streak largely because the Cougars are averaging only 13.7 points during that span. They produced 264 total yards (222 passing) in last week’s 21-17 loss against then-No. 14 Utah.

“Offensively, we’re just not doing anything well to lean our hat on right now,” Washington State coach Jake Dickert said. “It’s not being able to run the ball … negative plays, not being able to take it down the field.

“Right now, it’s just ineffective play and not being able to keep the chains moving.”

The Cardinal, meanwhile, resorted to two field goals by Joshua Karty for their scoring against UCLA until McKee completed a 2-yard touchdown pass to Benjamin Yurosek with 4:11 left in the game.

Karty accounted for the scoring with five field goals in a 15-14 win over Arizona State the previous week and made three field goals in a 16-14 victory at Notre Dame the week before that.

“A big thing is diagnosing what the issue is,” Stanford coach David Shaw said. “If it’s one guy, you take that one person out. It’s a myriad of things.”

Stanford was down to its fifth-string running back against UCLA, starting walk-on Caleb Robinson.

Members of Shaw’s backfield have either suffered injuries or transferred since last season.

Robinson had 10 carries for 36 yards against UCLA before leaving with an undisclosed injury.

“We’ll retool, we’ll see who’s healthy,” Shaw said. “We have to be balanced. We can’t just have a straight drop-back game. We have to be balanced with the run to keep people honest.”

Washington State quarterback Cameron Ward completed 27-of-31 passes against Utah, but 20 of those passes — including incompletions — traveled 5 yards or less.

–Field Level Media

Oct 27, 2022; Pullman, Washington, USA; Utah Utes quarterback Bryson Barnes (16) breaks away from Washington State Cougars defensive lineman Nusi Malani (15) in the first half at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Backup QB Bryson Barnes guides No. 14 Utah past Wazzu

No. 14 Utah prevailed 21-17 against Washington State on Thursday in Pullman, Wash., despite starting quarterback Cam Rising being a late scratch because of a left knee injury.

Bryson Barnes made his first career start in place of Rising, who was in uniform but remained on the sideline.

Barnes completed a touchdown pass and was not intercepted in his 17-of-27 passing performance. He threw for 175 yards and also ran for 51 yards on eight carries.

Utah (6-2, 4-1 Pac-12) recovered an onside kick at its 45-yard line with 4:39 left after Washington State (4-4, 1-4) cut the lead to 21-17 on Dean Janikowski’s career-best, 42-yard field goal.

On third-and-9 at the Washington State 43, Barnes kept the driving going completing a 10-yard pass to Devaughn Vele with 2:59 left.

The Cougars burned their last timeout with 2:27 remaining.

Utah ran the clock to 55 seconds left before calling a timeout with the ball at the Washington State 30.

Barnes attempted a pass on fourth-and-7 and the Cougars were called for defensive holding, securing the first down and the victory for the Utes.

Utah scored three unanswered touchdowns after Washington State hit the end zone first.

The Cougars opened the scoring with 13:24 left in the second quarter on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Cameron Ward to De’Zhaun Stribling.

Ja’Quinden Jackson scored on a 6-yard run and Jaylon Glover a 1-yard run before halftime to put the Utes ahead 14-7.

Jackson and Glover, both freshmen, got the bulk of the carries with Utah’s leading rusher Tavion Thomas (414 yards this season) out for an undisclosed reason.

Glover finished with 76 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown, and Jackson ran 10 times for 43 yards.

Barnes built the lead to 21-7 with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Dalton Kincaid with 1:24 remaining in the third quarter.

Washington State answered quickly going 72 yards on six plays in 1:53, capped by Ward’s 6-yard scamper for the score with 14:17 left.

Ward completed 27 of 31 pass attempts for 222 yards. He was not intercepted.

Jackson fumbled and Washington State’s Tanner Moku recovered at the Utah 37 with 8:01 remaining.

The Cougars stalled after driving to the red zone, eventually settling for Janikowski’s field goal that cut the lead to four.

–Field Level Media

Washington State quarterback Cameron Ward (1) scrambles from Oregon State linebacker Omar Speights (1) during the fourth quarter at Reser Stadium at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore. on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022.

Ncaa Football Washington State At Oregon State 2007

No. 14 Utah, after bye week, hopes to maintain momentum at Wazzu

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham is pleased that the 14th-ranked Utes will return to action earlier than normal this week when they visit Washington State on Thursday.

The Utes had a bye last week following a 43-42 home win over then-No. 7 Southern California on Oct. 15.

“I think this is the ideal scenario, if you have a bye, to have it come (ahead of) a Thursday (game) so you get an extra couple of days the following week,” Whittingham said. “I think sometimes you can get a little stale going the full two weeks, so I think if you were to map it out, this is exactly how we would want it to play out.”

Washington State is in the same situation, having last played Oct. 15 at Oregon State, a 24-10 loss.

The Utes (5-2, 3-1 Pac-12) need to keep winning to keep pace with No. 8 Oregon (6-1, 4-0) in the Pac-12 standings. Those teams play will meet in Eugene, Ore., on Nov. 19.

Washington State (4-3, 1-3) is hoping to end its two-game losing streak, with both losses coming on the road against USC and Oregon State.

The Cougars are 3-1 at home. Utah is 1-2 on the road.

Washington State’s focus preparing for the Utes is improving protection for quarterback Cameron Ward.

The Cougars have allowed 26 sacks, which has contributed to the team being ranked last in the Pac-12 in rushing yardage (89.4 yards per game).

“We need to protect (Ward) the right way so we can get through our progressions and ultimately eliminate these negative plays,” Washington State coach Jake Dickert said. “We have some momentum (in games), then we can’t overcome these negative plays within a series.

“That’s been the story of the three-and-outs, that’s been the story of not sustaining drives.”

Utah is traditionally strong against the run, but the Utes rank just seventh in the Pac-12 in that category, allowing 142 yards a game. They finished atop the conference last season, giving up 122.5 rushing yards per game.

Utah’s pass defense tops the Pac-12 (208.1 yards a game allowed), elevating the overall defense ranking to first in the conference (350.1 total yards yielded per game).

“When we have had issues, it’s primarily run defense this season,” Whittingham said. “That’s been a concern through the first half of the season.”

The matchup with the Cougars could very well be a defensive battle.

Washington State ranks No. 1 in the Pac-12 in scoring defense (20.7 points allowed a game).

The Cougars are led by linebacker Daiyan Henley, a transfer from Nevada who ranks second in the Pac-12 with 11 tackles for loss.

Ward has passed for 1,962 yards (completing 175 of 277 pass attempts) through seven games after accumulating 4,648 yards in 13 games last season at Incarnate Word.

He has led an efficient Washington State offense in the red zone, with the Cougars scoring on 92.3 percent of their red-zone opportunities.

Their scoring offense, however, ranks 10th in the Pac-12 at 24.6 points per game.

“When we get in the red zone, we’re really efficient,” Dickert said. “We just stall out before we get there. That has been an emphasis (during the bye week).”

–Field Level Media

Oregon State inside linebacker Jack Colletto (12) bowls in for the touchdown during the first quarter against Washington State at Reser Stadium at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore. on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022.

Ncaa Football Washington State At Oregon State 1052

Defense carries Oregon State over Washington State

Jack Colletto rushed for two touchdowns and Oregon State’s defense smothered visiting Washington State in the Beavers’ 24-10 Pac-12 Conference victory Saturday night in Corvallis, Ore.

The Beavers (5-2, 2-2 in Pac-12) had six sacks and held the Cougars to 23 rushing yards. Washington State quarterback Cam Ward (25-for-54 passing, 345 yards) threw incomplete with 6:06 left for a turnover on downs, pressured by the Beavers’ pass rush on the play that essentially ended any hope for a Cougars comeback.

Washington State had the ball at the Oregon State 15-yard line inside of two minutes with a chance to score, but Jaydon Grant sacked Ward for a 10-yard loss. The Cougars, who were 0-for-4 on fourth down, had to go for it on fourth again and Ward’s scramble came up short for another turnover.

Washington State (4-3, 1-3) had won eight straight games against Oregon State, including four in Corvallis. The last Beavers win in the series at home was Oct. 6, 2012.

Ben Gulbranson, replacing the injured Chance Nolan at quarterback for the Beavers, completed 12 of 24 passes for 141 yards with a touchdown and interception. The Beavers’ running game was in control as Oregon State rushed for 203 yards.

Damien Martinez led the ground attack with 111 yards on 16 carries. Fifty of those yards came on one run. Colletto scored on a 1-yard run in the first quarter for the game’s first points 4:17 in and added a 2-yard TD run early in the fourth to give Oregon State a two-touchdown lead.

Anthony Gould caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Gulbranson in the third quarter.

The Cougars were held to only a field goal in the first half, forced to punt on four of six drives and turning the ball over on downs on another possession. A third quarter 9-yard touchdown pass from Ward to Jaylen Jenkins was Washington State’s only visit to the end zone.

Robert Ferrel had five catches for 131 yards for the Cougars, who have lost three of their past four games.

Oct 8, 2022; Stanford, California, USA; Oregon State Beavers wide receiver Silas Bolden (7) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Stanford Cardinal during the fourth quarter at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon State, Washington State look to escape middle of Pac-12

Two teams sitting in the middle of the Pac-12 standings face each other in the Pacific Northwest on Saturday night, as Washington State clashes with Oregon State in Corvallis, Ore.

Washington State has won eight straight games against the Beavers, including four on their home turf. Oregon State’s last home victory against the Cougars came on Oct. 6, 2012.

The Beavers (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12) ended a two-game losing streak with a wild 28-27 comeback win at Stanford last weekend. Oregon State trailed 24-10 going into the fourth quarter but rallied with an 18-point surge. It was capped by Ben Gulbranson’s 56-yard touchdown pass to Tre’Shaun Harrison with 13 seconds left.

Gulbranson was making his first career start. He threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns while replacing Chance Nolan under center.

Nolan is in concussion protocol, according to a report from OregonLive.com. His status for Saturday is undetermined.

“(Gulbranson) did some good things in the game. For a first start, two touchdowns, no picks. Couple sacks that he’s got to do better on that,” Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith told OregonLive.com. “We’ll look for him, if he’s the guy, to take a nice step from Game 1 start to Game 2.”

Washington State (4-2, 1-2) has lost two of its last three. Each setback has come against a Top 25 opponent, then-No. 15 Oregon and then-No. 6 USC. The Cougars have one of the more dynamic quarterbacks in the conference in transfer Cameron Ward, who is tied for second in the Pac-12 with 15 touchdown passes.

The Cougars have had success when Ward is out in space and can be a threat to run. However, coach Jake Dickert said this week that the team will be without two top offensive threats in wide receiver Renard Bell and running back Nakia Watson “for some time” due to injuries.

“Both guys will return at some point,” Dickert said, “but it won’t be until a little bit later.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA;  Washington State Cougars wide receiver Robert Ferrel (12) drags USC Trojans linebacker Tuasivi Nomura (44) and defensive back Calen Bullock (7) into the end zone for a touchdown in the first half at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

No. 6 USC pulls away for 30-14 win over Wazzu

Tuli Tuipulotu headlined a stingy defensive effort from No. 6 Southern Cal, which improved to 6-0 for the first time since 2006 with a 30-14 win over visiting Washington State on Saturday in Los Angeles.

Tuipulotu finished with three sacks and four tackles for loss.

The Trojans (6-0, 4-0 Pac-12) jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, thanks to Caleb Williams’ 38-yard touchdown pass to Mario Williams and a 31-yard Denis Lynch field goal.

Five of USC’s next six possessions ended in punts, however, the first two of which Washington State parlayed into long touchdown drives.

The Cougars (4-2, 1-2) capped a 92-yard with a 12-yard Cameron Ward touchdown pass to Robert Ferrel. Wazzu then went 75 yards in a possession culminating with Ward finding Nakia Watson on a 1-yard score.

Washington State’s 14-10 lead evaporated by halftime courtesy of a 4-yard Travis Dye touchdown carry. The USC defense dominated from there, pitching a second-half shutout for the first time since a Week 1 rout of Rice.

The Cougars failed to advance past the USC 38-yard line on any of its five, second-half possessions.

The Trojans — coming into Saturday’s contest with a nation-best plus-14 turnover margin on the season — went without a takeaway. However, they forced Washington State into three punts, made a fourth-down stop and contained the Cougars on the game’s final possession.

The 316 yards Washington State accrued were more than 64 fewer than its season average, and Ward’s 172 yards on 19-of-32 passing were 116 fewer than his average through five games.

USC scored 12.2 points fewer than its season average and with 369 total yards, finished more than 111 below its mark coming into Week 6. Caleb Williams went just 15-of-29 passing for 188 yards but connected twice with Mario Williams for scores.

The second, a 25-yarder late into the third quarter, gave USC a 10-point cushion. Dye’s 149 yards rushing helped carry the burden with the passing game’s struggles.

–Field Level Media