Here are my three takeaways from Saturday’s game:
1. Luke Falk and wide receiver corp
There aren’t many stats that can prove which college quarterback/wide receiver group is the best in the country. But if it were up to me, Luke Falk and the Cougar receiving corps have to be near the top, if not No. 1 overall. Specifically, I'm talking about Falk, Gabe Marks, River Cracraft, and Tavares Martin - but don’t forget about Jamal Morrow and James Williams. These five combined for 381 of Falk's 415 passing yards and 27 of his 33 completions. Not only that, each made a handful of highlight reel catches that kept WSU’s offense alive during crucial moments in the game. Falk’s 37-yard pass to Marks in triple coverage and Cracraft’s toe tapper on the sideline have to be included in ESPN's Sports Center Top 10 this week. You hope this team learn how to start fast, but after their performance against OSU, you can’t ask for much more out of this group of players.
2. Cody O’Connell’s return gives offense huge spark
Left guard Cody O'Connell didn’t put up any points up on the scoreboard for the Cougs, but his return the field in the second half might have been just what the offense needed to get going. After missing the first two quarters, O’Connell came into the game after halftime and helped lead Wazzu down to four unanswered touchdown scoring drives which helped WSU regain the lead heading into the final quarter. Not only did O’Connell help the offense put up a lot of points, but he aided a rushing attack that eventually ran for 137-yards after managing only 26-yards in the first half. Hopefully O’Connell is back for good because his presence made a clear difference in the efficiency of the WSU offense against the Beavers.
3. Two halves, two teams
The first half Cougars and second half Cougars were clearly as different as night and day. One team couldn’t execute, couldn’t tackle, played with no energy while the other team was unstoppable, unmovable and played with a high level of swagger. Mental errors and missed assignments shot the team in the foot repeatedly during the first half, but disappeared in the second led by a nearly flawless performance during the third quarter. Consistency is definitely an issue with this team, but its hard to complain after pulling out another close victory on the road. When it's all said and done, good teams find ways to win games. The Cougs proved why they are one of the best teams in the Pac-12 this season after their fifth consecutive conference win.