Thud! Cougars dominated, decimated in desert

FORGET LOGIC. Given that Washington State was competitive during its last three games against ranked opponents, it seemed reasonable to predict the Cougars could upset -- or at least be very competitive -- with an Arizona State team coming off a blowout loss at California. It didn't quite turn out that way. Not even close.

So much for momentum.

The Cougars (1-8 overall, 0-6 Pac-10) were dominated from the start in a 42-0 loss Saturday against the Sun Devils. WSU, which was shutout for the first time this season, now has lost 15 consecutive conference games.

ASU quarterback Steven Threet, who entered the game with more interceptions than touchdowns, looked more senior veteran than an erratic passer against a flat Washington State defense.

Threet, who completed 26 of 32 passes for 300 yards and three touchdowns, showed no side effects from a concussion he suffered last week as he guided the Sun Devils on a 15-play drive on their first possession that culminated with a 7-yard touchdown run by Cameron Marshall.

The Sun Devils (4-4, 2-3) were much quicker on their second possession -- they needed just four plays for Threet to find Jamal Miles on a 9-yard touchdown.

Their offense was just as productive in the second quarter, extending their lead to 28-0 at halftime. Deantre Lewis scored on a 3-yard run with 11 minutes, 42 seconds left in the half. ASU added another touchdown after Cougars' quarterback Jeff Tuel threw an incomplete pass on fourth-and-one at the Sun Devils' 43-yard line. Four plays later, Threet connected with Miles for an 18-yard touchdown with 11 seconds left in the half.

"Right now our defense is sound asleep," radio color commentator and former WSU coach Jim Walden said at halftime. "It's like knocking air out of a dead mule. You just can't do it."

Walden was lowballing it.

The Cougars' defense did not wake up during the second half, but neither did their offense. WSU coach Paul Wulff said his team needed to win the turnover margin by at least two for an opportunity to win. Instead, his team had three turnovers and one takeaway.

MULTIPLE DRIVES FOR the Cougars were thwarted by giveaways. Trailing 21-0 during the second quarter, WSU had first-and-goal at ASU's 5 before Tuel was intercepted by LeQuan Lewis in the end zone.

Down 35-0, the Cougars faced a similar scenario. WSU had first-and-10 at ASU's 13 before a personal foul by offensive lineman Wade Jacobson drove them back 15 yards. Two plays later, linebacker Vontaze Burfict forced a fumble by Marcus Richmond, which was recovered by the Sun Devils' Brandon Magee.

When it rains it pours, and a river was dumping on the Cougs in the desert.

The Cougars, who were the least penalized team in the Pac-10 entering the contest, were flagged eight times for 105 yards.

"It is a total indication of how we never have been in the game today," Walden said after a third-quarter penalty.

Again, Walden was lowballing it.

Even standout punter Reid Forrest had a 22-yard punt during the third quarter.

It was that kind of afternoon for WSU, which played perhaps its worst game since a 65-17 season-opening loss at Oklahoma State. Or maybe this one was worse -- the Cougars were outgained 493-264. They could not put pressure on Threet, which enabled the Sun Devils to score in every quarter, including a 10-yard run by Kyle Middlebrooks in the final period.

They also could not slow ASU's pass rush, which produced the fewest sacks among Pac-10 schools entering the game. The Sun Devils put constant pressure on Tuel and true freshman left tackle John Fullington, so good last week against No. 13 Stanford, frequently was beat.

"When you're a true freshman and going up against top-notch guys week after week, you're going to get burned," Walden said.

WSU hosts two of its final three opponents -- California and Washington. Logic would suggest that both are beatable. The Golden Bears were defeated 35-7 on Saturday at Oregon State and have lost all four of their road games by a combined score of 145-61. And the Huskies have been blown out by two consecutive ranked opponents. They lost 41-0 to Stanford on Saturday in Seattle.

But logic also suggested the Cougars might be able to beat ASU. The reality is WSU needs to play far better for that to become a reality.

TURNING POINT OF THE GAME: Trailing 21-0 in the second quarter, WSU had first-and-goal at ASU's 5 before sophomore quarterback Jeff Tuel was intercepted by LeQuan Lewis in the end zone.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Former WSU coach Jim Walden said during a postgame radio discussion that none were deserving.

STAT OF THE GAME: Two red-zone drives for the Cougars ended with turnovers. WSU had three to one for the Sun Devils.

MISLEADING STAT OF THE GAME: The Sun Devils only averaged 3.5 yards per carry, but their top two running backs, Cameron Marshall and Deantre Lewis, combined for 83 yards on 19 carries.

NEXT GAME: WSU hosts California, which lost 35-7 on Saturday at Oregon State, at 1 p.m. Saturday. FSN will televise the contest.

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