What They're Saying: Post ASU edtion

THE PUNDITS WERE out in full force following Washington State's 23-20 loss to Arizona State on Saturday. With quips, quotes and takes on the Cougars' heartbreaking homecoming fall, linebacker Andy Mattingly's coming out party, the futility of moral victories, bad calls and more. From Spokane to Phoenix, here's what they're saying.

Indeed, Stanford – Stanford! – beat USC on Saturday night in the Coliseum, meaning that Earth now officially orbits around the moon, which has been confirmed to be constituted of green cheese, previous denials to the contrary. If that can happen, who's to say that the Cougs can't salvage some dignity out of disaster? Providing the offense gets it in gear. Now there's a twist on Cougar reality for you. John Blanchette, Spokesman-Review

If anything defines this hard-to-characterize ASU team, this is it: They are unflappable. Playing in one the Pac-10's more hostile environments? Big deal. Trying to overcome an inconsistent offensive line? Ho-hum. Putting a redshirt freshman kicker on the spot to make a game-winning field goal with 50 seconds left? La-di-da. Paola Boivin, Arizona Republic

In the end, they got the win and kept their undefeated season alive. But Dennis Erickson and his Arizona State Sun Devils got about all they could handle from an antagonistic Pullman crowd Saturday. "From the way it sounded in the crowd, not too many people like him [Erickson] around here," Arizona State quarterback Rudy Carpenter said after the 23-20 Sun Devils victory. Brandon Scheller, Seattle Times

Erickson coached at nearby Idaho last year, then left after one season for his third Pac-10 stop. His now has wins against three teams - San Jose State, Oregon State and Washington State - that beat Idaho in 2006. Jeff Metcalfe, Arizona Republic

But WSU has to be beyond moral victories now. It desperately needed to win this game to get to .500, because the next month looks awfully truculent, including Oregon, UCLA and Cal. To have a winning regular-season record it would need to win five of its final six. Even winning four of the final six could leave WSU in the identical 6-6 and bowl-less plight it endured a year ago. Bud Withers, Seattle Times

Opportunity knocked for sophomore linebacker Andy Mattingly, and he tore the door off the hinges in his first start. The true sophomore from Spokane got to start because Kendrick Dunn was injured and finished with four sacks and 13 total tackles, five of them solo. Craig Smith, Seattle Times

That typical 20 mph gust you get on the Palouse this time of year kicked up at the wrong time for Washington State's desperate football team Saturday. WSU had just willed itself to a 51-yard drive in the final minute, aided by the gutsy heroics of a more-than-just-statistics quarterback and one big catch by a receiver who defied his freshman status. .. And in a breeze, it vanished. Romeen Abdollmohammadi's 46-yard field-goal attempt had not finished missing wide left with 12 seconds to go and Arizona State players already were jumping up and down, celebrating a 23-20, Pacific-10 Conference victory at Martin Stadium. Todd Milles, The (Tacoma) News Tribune

For all the hoohah over the quarterback records being rewritten by Alex Brink and Wazzu's supposed firepower, the Cougars have averaged all of 18 points in three Pac-10 games. The defense, until Saturday, had been decidedly unspecial, but this has been a shared swoon, in every sense.John Blanchette, Spokesman-Review

Quarterback Rudy Carpenter again was under siege, as the Cougars (2-4, 0-3) did the opposite of what coach Bill Doba said when he said they would change from their attacking style to a bend-don't-break approach. Erickson was right not to buy what Doba was selling. "I've been around Bill a lot of years," he said. "I knew they were bringing them, and they did. It was a good plan." Jeff Metcalfe, Arizona Republic

It was all right there. A chance to head to overtime. A chance to keep alive an upset bid against the No. 18 team in the nation. A chance to turn a tough season around. It was all right there. But, with 12 seconds left, Romeen Abdollmohammadi's 46-yard field goal hooked slowly, inexorably, wide left. Vince Grippi, Spokesman-Review

Gibson made amends – or so he and his teammates thought – when he beat ASU's Chris Baloney to the back of the end zone and grabbed Brink's 32-yard pass for an apparent touchdown. But the back judge ruled otherwise, saying Gibson bobbled the ball before he came down…"I got a good look at it," WSU quarterbacks coach Timm Rosenbach said. "But my opinion means nothing." Todd Milles, The (Tacoma) News Tribune

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