Washington State Rebounding Behind Quarterback Luke Falk
To tell the full story of Washington State's season, you have to go all the way back to their home opener.
The Cougars were facing FCS opponent Portland State, a school that entered the game 0-14 all-time against Pac-12 opponents.
After the game, Portland State was 1-14.
Washington State's 24-17 loss to Portland State looked to be the beginning of another disappointing season for the Cougars. There was little reason to believe that they would recover. After all, Washington State hadn't finished a season with a winning record since 2003.
Three months later, the Cougars are 7-3 and the No. 24 team in the nation.
What happened? How were the Cougars able to rebound and put together their best season in years?
While there are a multitude of reasons, the number one factor for Washington State has been their quarterback, Luke Falk.
The redshirt sophomore has put together quite a remarkable season. He leads the NCAA in passing completions and passing attempts. He is second in the NCAA with 4,067 passing yards, and tops in the NCAA with 406.7 yards a game. His 35 passing touchdowns is also second in the NCAA and a Washington State record.
It is easy to understand why Falk has put up such huge numbers, as a pass-heavy offense is a staple of any Mike Leach-coached team. But that doesn't explain Falk's 70.3 completion percentage, which is first in the NCAA.
You can look at statistics all day, but what is it about Falk that makes his team better? Just last week, Falk showed his poise in the clutch as he lead the Cougars on a game winning touchdown drive to defeat the UCLA Bruins, 31-27.
Falk has been in these situations before. Washington State had close games with Rutgers and Oregon, both ending in overtime victories for the Cougars.
Leach thinks his quarterback even deserves a shot at the Heisman, "I think you ought to go back to the original definition which is who's made the greatest contribution to his individual team," said Leach. "If that's the case then virtually everyone needs to vote for Luke Falk. And anybody that doesn't needs to re-examine why they're voting for the Heisman to begin with."
Leach has also made it clear that Falk isn't the only reason for the Cougars' success.
In fact, Falk wasn't the only player to break a school record last Saturday. Receiver Gabe Marks set a new Washington State high for career receptions with 204.
Washington State's defense has also shown improvement over the last year with new coordinator Alex Grinch at the helm. However, they still allow an average of 30 points per game, as they are often bailed out by their offense.
Moving forward, the Cougars expect to win their final two games against Colorado and rival Washington. The goal is to reach 10 wins with a bowl victory. No matter how the season ends, this year will still go down as the best season for the Cougars in at least a decade.