Analysis | WSU’s 2017 football season was once again one wild ride. Here’s how the Cougs graded out

This season had highs, and lows, and everything in between. Now that the (disappointing) bowl game is over and the dust has cleared, we look back and evaluated WSU’s 2017 football campaign.

SAN DIEGO – Despite having a veteran team laden with 20 seniors who all began the season in Washington State’s two-deep, perhaps it was telling that the three players sent out to face the media on Thursday after WSU’s 42-17 Holiday Bowl beatdown against Michigan State were all underclassmen.

Sophomore safety Jalen Thompson, sophomore quarterback Tyler Hilinski and freshman receiver Tay Martin represent the nucleus around which the Cougars will rebuild next season. And thanks to some unforeseen injuries, they all got significant playing time this year, which should help ease the team into 2018.

But first, a look back at 2017.

Due in large part to the presence of the aforementioned senior class led by quarterback Luke Falk, running back Jamal Morrow, offensive lineman Cole Madison, linebackers Isaac Dotson and Peyton Pelluer and defensive tackle Daniel Ekuale, 2017 began as the most hyped WSU season since – perhaps – Jason Gesser’s senior year in 2002.

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And for while, it appeared as if the Cougars would finally live up to the hype. For the first time in the Mike Leach era, WSU finally won an opener, blanking Montana State 31-0 in a show of dominance.

Slowly but steadily, the Cougars started collecting wins. First came the triple-overtime thrilled against Boise State that first introduced Coug fans to Hilinski’s heroics as the backup quarterback relieved Falk to lead WSU to a 47-44 comeback win. Then came the euphoric home win over a fifth-ranked USC team that caught the nation’s attention and gave Leach his first signature win at WSU. The Cougars went on to beat Oregon for the third year in a row, and peaked at a No. 8 ranking in the lead-up to the Cal game on Oct….

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