The game Saturday evening at Washington State University was the first home game I attended on the season for the Cougars and my second game overall at Martin Stadium. For most of the week, which doubled as homecoming week, the weather remained grey with a lot of clouds and steady rain, and that did not change on Saturday. The Cougs sat at 3-2 riding a three game win streak and were prepared take on a Bruins team that limped into Saturday without Quarterback Josh Rosen. Despite seeing rain and clouds for most of the day and being forced to wear rain ponchos, the Coug fans remained excited for the homecoming game as many alumni were also in town for the game.
History – Washington State football began in 1894 as an Independent and did not move to the Pac-8 at the time until 1968. Since the first team was fielded in 1894, the Cougars have made four Rose Bowls (1915, 1930, 1997 & 2002). Another unique piece of history behind the Cougars it the logo of the university, which was created in 1936 by student Randall Johnson. Johnson was a student who spent his time working on campus and was told to design a logo and it only took him two nights to design the logo. The original logo had a C instead of a U on it, and in 1959 it was changed and updated to the logo we fans see today.
Martin Stadium – Surprisingly, Martin Stadium was mostly full outside of a small section in the right corner near the student section. The student section is known as the “Crimzone”, and student typically have to get tickets weeks in advance to sit here. Only trailing Wake Forest, the Cougars have the smallest stadium out of any Power Five school, only holding a capacity of 32,248 people. The stadium is very condensed and only goes up to around 35 rows for each section, and most of the seats are just bleachers.
The Game – The game was wet, cold, windy, and a whole lot of fun. UCLA fumbled on their opening drive due to the wet nature surrounding the game, and it was a sloppy first half from there. The Cougars managed to get a field goal in the first quarter to go up 3-0 and Gerard Wicks dove up the middle for a one-yard score in the second quarter, giving the Cougs a 10-0 halftime lead. The action picked up in the second half as UCLA scored off a Luke Falk fumble, but the Cougs responded quickly with back-to-back touchdown drives that ended in Wicks and Jamal Morrow touchdowns respectively.
Entering the fourth leading 24-7, UCLA found their offense and scored on back-to-back drives led by backup QB Mike Fafaul. The Cougars sustained a long, six-minute drive, something Coach Mike Leach isn’t known for, in between Bruin touchdowns to make the game 27-21 after Fafaul’s third TD pass. The Cougars tried to “Coug” the game, an expression thrown around Pullman when the Cougars blow a big lead, but the Bruins fumbled after a three and out by WSU, then following another three and out Fafaul threw a pick from his own two-yard line, sealing the win on homecoming for the Cougars.
The Cougar faithful are still awaiting the perfect game to run back on the field, as that feat apparently hasn’t been done since the Cougs beat Utah in 2013 to go bowling according to Washington State student Zak Cherif. The opportunity could arise however if this red hot Cougar squad can knock off their #5 ranked rivals and Pac-12 North co-leaders, the Washington Huskies, when the Apple Cup comes around in late November.