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Does WSU look like a championship caliber team?

PULLMAN – When I look at Washington State's masterful victory over Arizona, I see a team that has championship caliber written all over it. How? Why? Because the way they played Saturday is what championship teams look like and that’s how championship teams play against lesser opponents. But before we get there, lets take a look at what we saw from the Cougs 69-7 colossal win over the Wildcats on Saturday.

First off, the scoreboard says a lot.

Washington State (7-2, 6-0 Pac-12) couldn’t have pieced together a more complete game if they tried. They won in every single phase and category in a college football game you can name. Offense, defense, special teams, passing, sacks, turnovers, first downs, TFL’s, possession, scoring – it didn’t matter.  They won – and they continue to win notching their seventh straight victory of the season.

So how did this game turn out the way it did? Honestly, I almost don’t even know where to start.

But just to get your mind thinking, try to recall just one of Luke Falk’s three incomplete passes on the day.

I’ll wait…

As the stat sheet shows, 91.4 percent of Falk’s passes were completed (a single game WSU record) with four of his 35 throws going for touchdowns. To be clear, that’s more TD throws than incompletions in a game. What?

On top of that, WSU was in a position to trot out their backup quarterback, Tyler Hilinski, who went on to complete 15 of 17 passes with two TD’s of his own. Ridiculous.

The Cougar Air Raid offense was a churning machine that moved the sticks and put up points like clockwork. Because of their efficiency, Falk and Hilinski both made it look easy out there by completing one seemingly effortless throw after the other while dishing the ball out to 14 different Coug receivers. That's not a typo. Fourteen different guys wearing crimson and gray uniforms.

Another eye-popping stat that spells a WSU blowout win? The Cougs cashed in on 10 of 10 opportunities inside the red zone. By comparison, Arizona only managed to get in the red-zone once and they failed to put up any points on the scoreboard.

Then you look at the play of Wazzu's offensive line, self-described as "The Goon Squad". Through the entire game, both Falk and Hilinski combined for a total of… 

wait for it… 

Zero sacks! Not only that, the Cougs running back trio rushed for a combined total of 151-yards and three scores. 

On the other side of the ball, the Cougar defensive line absolutely embarrassed Arizona up front. Five sacks and four quarters of O-linemen on skates, well, it was not a good look for them. That mismatch started to show early, and it reflected as the score quickly got away from them.

Just mid-way through the first quarter, WSU had complete control of the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. It reminded me a lot of the Oregon game, except Arizona couldn’t figure out how to keep their offense on the field – or get their defense off the field for that matter.

And then at some point late in the second quarter, I started to wonder if Arizona even wanted to be out there because their body language looked that bad.

What was so great about the way WSU responded to a poor Arizona outing was that they never slowed down and they never lost their focus. The Cougs kept their foot on the gas pedal and continued to play at their level – which was light-years ahead of the Wildcats.

And that, is the mindset of a championship caliber team.

Aside from Falk, the player that made the biggest impact on the game was Shalom Luani who played head and shoulders above the crowd. Luani recorded five tackles, four solo, one sack, one tackle for loss, one interception, and one quarterback hurry. If that’s not enough to make a case for defensive MVP then I don’t know what does.

At the end of the day, the Cougs held the ‘Cats to 286-yards of total offense while putting up 614-yards of their own.

There was nothing fancy about it. The Cougs just came to play and simply won their battles. One small victory after another eventually culminating into this wildly lopsided blowout win for Washington State.

If the Cougs continue playing like this against any other team in the nation, odds are that they will come out on top. If the opposing team happens to be California, Colorado, Washington (or any other school for that matter) the sky is the limit given the level of performance we now know the Cougs are capable of.

If there’s one thing that we do know about this team it’s that they know how to win games. We know that they can be down by three scores and still win. We know they can blow a three score lead and still win. And obviously, they can win by eight scores.

So I will continue to ask this question. Is this, in fact, a championship caliber team – or are they another 9-4 team that will look back and say they “coulda, woulda, shoulda”?

With the Apple Cup lurking right around the corner, Wazzu is right on track for what could be one of the most historic Cougar football seasons in over a decade. 

RELATED: 3 takeaways: WSU rolls over Arizona with two quarterbacks


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