1. SHAKING AND BAKING
While River Cracraft seems like an irreplaceable asset, understudy Tyler Baker -- for the second straight week -- did a great job making Cougar fans forget their third-down pass-catching specialist is injured. Baker, who walked on at WSU in 2012 and didn't appear in a game that season or in 2013, again started in place of Cracraft. And for the third-straight game, the 5-10 Baker came up big. He had nine receptions for 113 yards and one TD (though it would have been two TDs were it not for a preposterously early whistle). Last week he had nine catches for 89 yards, and the week before four for 59. Prior to this three-week run, he had one catch the entire season. His unforeseen emergence adds serious depth to next season's receiving corps.
2. DL BRINGS THE HEAT
Buck linebacker Kache Palacio had two sacks to lead the Cougs' heavy pressure on Sean Mannion. They sacked him four times in all -- twice their per-game average -- and put heavy pressure on him much of the day (see picture above with Cyrus Coen and Xavier Cooepr). Mannion shredded the Cougars in each of the past two seasons, so the ability to dial up
the heat this time around was no doubt crucial to the day's outcome. Here's another notable defensive gem for the Cougars: their two leading tacklers were linebackers (Jeremiah Allison and Coen), not defensive backs. How many times has that happened in the last 10 years?
3. PLAY ACTION CONTINUES TO CAUSE FITS
For the second straight week the Cougar D struggled in techni-color fashion with the play-action pass. The first play of the game, a 49-yard aerial from Sean Mannion to former Cougar Rahmel Dockery, set up OSU for a 7-0 lead and it came on play action. The play was eerily similar to an 87-yard touchdown pass by USC last week. In fact, as the second half unfolded, Pac-12 Networks color man Yogi Roth wondered why the Beavers weren't doing more play-action for deep throws.
4. MELE MAKES THE CALL
WSU special teams coach Eric Mele vowed this week that big blunders on kickoff and punt returns would not happen again, and that prophesy came true. The Cougars gave up one long kick return (41 yards -- and no farther thanks to the tag team of Jordan Dascalo and Cyrus Coen) but generally looked solid on special teams. Dascalo punted twice for a total of 88 yards, and Oregon State could only muster one return for two yards. That one return was bottled up by Willie Roach, who made the tackle and spun his man down to the ground.
5. LIFE IS BETTER ON THE ROAD
Going against all conventional wisdom about home-field advantage, the win at OSU elevates the Cougs to 2-1 this season when playing Pac-12 foe on the road. Conversely, the Cougars are 0-4 when facing Pac-12 team at home. Last season against Pac-12 opponents, Washington State was 3-3 on the road and 1-2 at home.