Could the Cougars block all the noise out and finish with their first 10-victory season since 2003? The answer was a resounding no as Michigan State trounced WSU 42-17 in a game that was all but over by halftime.
SAN DIEGO — How many distractions can one football team block out before it all becomes too much to handle?
Thursday night, Washington State took the field for the Holiday Bowl at SDCCU Stadium against Michigan State missing its top two receivers (Tavares Martin Jr. was dismissed, Isaiah Johnson-Mack transferred), without its star defensive tackle Hercules Mata’afa (suspended for first half due to targeting penalty), with rumors surrounding the reported impending departure of defensive coordinator Alex Grinch and, perhaps, most significantly, minus senior quarterback Luke Falk.
Falk’s status for the game was questionable all week after he was seen with a cast on his left (non-throwing) arm at a WSU practice.
The Cougars kept the status of their starter a secret until kickoff. During pregame warm-ups, Falk was dressed in uniform and throwing the football before he changed and re-emerged in a sweatsuit right before the game.
With all that going on leading to this game, the game itself almost seemed like an afterthought this week.
Could the Cougars block all the noise out and come together to trump 18th-ranked Michigan State and finish with their first 10-victory season since 2003?
The answer, was a resounding no, as the Spartans trounced WSU 42-17 in a game that was all but over by halftime.
“I didn’t think we played well consistently on offense, and we never could get them off the field,” said Cougars’ coach Mike Leach, who’s now 1-3 in bowl games during his tenure at WSU. “Their quarterback did a really good job of keeping us honest. Any time they needed a key play, their quarterback did a good job converting on third down.
“And we gave up…