Nov 25, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) passes against the Washington State Cougars during the first quarter at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

No. 4 Washington edges Washington State with late field goal

Rome Odunze caught seven passes for 120 yards with two touchdowns, and his 23-yard, fourth-down run on the final possession helped set up Grady Gross’ game-winning field goal from 42 yards as No. 4-ranked Washington closed out an undefeated regular season in a 24-21 defeat of rival Washington State, Saturday in Seattle.

The Huskies (12-0, 9-0 Pac-12 Conference) came into the 115th edition of the Apple Cup having already clinched a berth in next Friday’s Pac-12 Championship Game, but sought to maintain their inside track on reaching the College Football Playoff.

Facing fourth-and-one at its own 29-yard line with 1:14 left, Washington went for it and appeared to be stuffed when running back Dillon Johnson ran into the line. But Johnson sold a fake as the wide receiver Odunze went end-around for a long gain.

A roughing the passer penalty on Ron Stone Jr. — one of three pivotal flags in the fourth quarter — moved Washington further into Washington State territory and provided some cushion to remain in Gross’ range despite quarterback Michael Penix Jr. taking a nine-yard loss on a sack before the attempt.

Gross’ made field goal came from nearly the same distance as the 43-yarder he missed earlier in the game.

Washington State (5-7, 2-7), needing a win to reach bowl eligibility, gave Washington all it could handle. Cougars quarterback Cameron Ward went 32-of-48 passing for 317 yards with three touchdowns, each to a different receiver, including a game-tying, eight-yard strike to Lincoln Victor to set up a 21-21 fourth-quarter tie.

Ward’s third touchdown throw came as a result of the first key penalty called in the final period. Washington State was able to capitalize on Washington’s Dominique Hampton with a leaping call on a field-goal attempt.

What was initially a made Cougars field goal to cut the Huskies lead to 21-17 instead led to the equalizing touchdown.

Washington State regained possession with a chance to move ahead after forcing a three-and-out, but a holding penalty against the Cougars negated a would-be first-down run in Huskies territory.

Penix finished 18-of-33 for 204 yards with the two touchdown connections to Odunze — one of 40 yards and the other for 21 yards — and an interception. Johnson, who scored on a first-quarter goal-line carry, ran for 82 yards.

Josh Kelly finished with 106 yards on eight receptions for Washington State and scored on a 21-yard reception. Kyle Williams caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Ward, who was also intercepted twice.

With the win, Washington became the first team to complete an undefeated regular season in the Pac-12 since the conference’s last year with 10 members, 2010. Oregon, which saw its 2023 team seal a berth in the Pac-12 Championship with its win over Oregon State on Friday, was the last program to accomplish the feat.

–Field Level Media

Nov 4, 2023; Eugene, Oregon, USA; California Golden Bears quarterback Fernando Mendoza (15) throws the ball during the second half against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Reeling teams clash as Cal hosts Washington State

Two reeling teams with fading bowl hopes square off Saturday when Cal hosts Washington State in Berkeley in the last home game of the season for the Golden Bears.

After starting 4-0 and ranked No. 13 in the AP Top 25 poll, Washington State (4-5, 1-5 Pac-12) has lost five consecutive games following last week’s 10-7 defeat to Stanford at Pullman, Wash.

Cal (3-6, 1-5) suffered its fourth straight loss — all against ranked teams — when the Golden Bears were routed 63-19 at Oregon last week.

The Golden Bears must win their remaining three games to become bowl eligible. They will play at Stanford and UCLA to conclude the regular season.

“The only thing that really matters is winning, and we’re going to win those next three games,” said Cal freshman quarterback Fernando Mendoza.

The 63 points allowed to Oregon were the most in the seven-year tenure of Cal’s Justin Wilcox, who has a background as a defensive coordinator.

Cal has allowed at least 50 points in four games this season for the first time since 2013, when the Golden Bears finished 1-11.

“I take responsibility for the performance of the team,” Wilcox said. “I need to do a better job to get the team ready and make sure they are given the best chance to be successful.”

Washington State coach Jake Dickert said the Cougars have not lost their desire to become bowl eligible for the eighth straight non-COVID year. They must win two of their last three games to do that. They will host Colorado next week before playing the Apple Cup game on Nov. 25 at Washington.

Despite the Cougars’ recent woes, Dickert has not changed the practice routines.

“I’m not a big believer, or a believer at all, (in saying) ‘Because things aren’t going our way, let’s put in 30 more hours,’” he said. “Let’s just live to the standard. … Let’s prepare to the standard, and let’s do it that way regardless of the outcome. So that’s been the mindset of this building.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 21, 2023; Eugene, Oregon, USA; Washington State Cougars quarterback Cameron Ward (1) signals a play during the fourth quarter against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Craig Strobeck-USA TODAY Sports

Offenses could dominate when Stanford visits Washington State

Two of the worst defenses in the nation will be on the field on Saturday when Washington State hosts Stanford in Pullman, Wash.

Washington State (4-4, 1-4 Pac-12) ranks 120th nationally in total defense, allowing 446.0 yards per game, while Stanford (2-6, 1-5) is 126th (465.1 yards allowed up per game) of the 130 schools listed.

Both teams struggle most against the pass, with Washington State at No. 122 (275.2 yards passing allowed per game) and Stanford last among FBS teams at No. 130 (322.5).

Washington State has allowed an average of 36.3 points during its four-game losing streak, its longest skid since 2014.

Opponents have rushed for at least 158 yards against the Cougars in six straight games, including a 235-yard performance on the ground by Arizona State last weekend in a 38-27 loss.

Washington State coach Jake Dickert said he will be more involved in the defensive game planning against Stanford.

“That isn’t a panic thing, that’s just something where I feel like I can be an asset at this moment,” Dickert said. “Trying to find ways to be better, and more solutions, and more attacking, and I think we’ve just gotten stuck on a few things, so to find ways to get over that hump, I think it’s necessary at this time.”

Washington State quarterback Cameron Ward will try to take advantage of Stanford’s porous pass defense.

He ranks fifth in the nation with 316.5 passing yards per game. He has completed 216 of 309 pass attempts for 2,532 yards and 16 touchdowns with three interceptions.

Stanford has lost six of its last seven games. In the Cardinal’s past four games, opponents have averaged 42.3 points.

Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. completed 21 of 37 passes for 369 yards and four touchdowns in Stanford’s 42-33 loss last weekend.

The Cardinal’s Ashton Daniels nearly matched Penix with 367 yards on 31-of-48 passing for one touchdown and no interceptions.

Stanford coach Troy Taylor said the Cardinal’s running game is a point of emphasis.

Daniels ran for 81 yards on 18 carries against the Huskies, but the other rushers combined for 47 yards on 17 touches.

“We need to get more going in the run game,” Taylor said. “We just don’t want to drop back against these teams, time in and time out. Puts a lot of pressure on your offensive line and quarterback.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 23, 2023; Pullman, Washington, USA; Washington State Cougars quarterback Cameron Ward (1) throws a pass against the Oregon State Beavers in the first half at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

No. 19 Washington State ready for determined Arizona

Arizona has competed well against top 10 teams in back-to-back weeks, with the Wildcats’ task not getting any easier in a matchup against No. 19 Washington State on Saturday at Pullman, Wash.

Arizona (3-3, 1-2 Pac-12) lost to then-No. 7 Washington 31-24 at home on Sept. 30 before falling 43-41 in three overtimes at then-No. 9 Southern California on Saturday night. The Wildcats outgained the Trojans 506-351.

“When you watch how our team played, what our team did in that game, it was really a fantastic football game with a disappointing outcome,” said Arizona coach Jedd Fisch, whose team was about a three-touchdown underdog in each of the past two weeks.

In those games, the Wildcats limited Michael Penix Jr. and Caleb Williams — arguably the top two Heisman Trophy candidates at the midpoint of the season — to a combined one touchdown pass.

Arizona will face another prolific passer this week in Cameron Ward, who is sixth nationally in passing yards per game (317.2). He has thrown 14 touchdown passes with two interceptions for the Cougars (4-1, 1-1), who were dealt their first loss of the season Saturday in a 25-17 decision at UCLA.

Washington State rushed for only 12 yards on 19 attempts.

“Let’s be honest, we got humbled. It happens. Back to the work,” said Cougars coach Jake Dickert. “There’s a toughness aspect that our team needs to play with, and UCLA beat us in that realm. We’ve got to respond to that and get back to who we are.”

The identity of the Arizona quarterback figures to be a key storyline. Jayden de Laura has missed the past two games with an ankle injury, which has allowed redshirt freshman Noah Fifita the opportunity to impress. Fifita completed 25 of 35 passes for 303 yards, with five touchdowns (two in overtime) and one interception against USC. He has quickly become a fan favorite.

The health status of de Laura remains something of a mystery, but Fisch said Monday: “If he is 100 percent healthy, he will start on Saturday.”

That would set up a rematch against de Laura’s old team. While at Washington State, he was the Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year in 2021, but he transferred to Arizona after the season when the Cougars added Ward from Incarnate Word.

When Washington State defeated host Arizona 31-20 last season, de Laura threw for 357 yards but was intercepted four times.

“My message to Jayden is always the same,” Fisch said. “When you play with poise, and when you play with confidence, you’re one of the best quarterbacks in the country. You’ve proven that.”

Washington State already has posted key home victories over then-No. 19 Wisconsin 31-22, and then-No. 14 Oregon State 38-35. Ward is spreading the ball to Josh Kelly (26 catches, 376 yards, five touchdowns), Lincoln Victor (24-337-3) and Kyle Williams (24-387-4), among others.

The Cougars are second nationally in passing (365.4 yards per game) but 117th in rushing (103.6).

Dickert called Arizona “the most improved team in the league.”

“The last two results against top 10 teams are no fluke,” Dickert said. “I think the challenge is real. I think they’re an explosive team. The best part is now this one’s back here at home.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 23, 2023; Pullman, Washington, USA; Washington State Cougars quarterback Cameron Ward (1) throws a pass against the Oregon State Beavers in the first half at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA braces for No. 13 Washington State’s air attack

UCLA must find a method to stop quarterback Cameron Ward when the Bruins host No. 13 Washington State in a Pac-12 game on Saturday afternoon at the Rose Bowl.

Ward has completed 106 of 142 passes for 1,390 yards and 13 touchdowns without an interception this season.

He came into the week ranked 22nd in the FBS in passing yards, 10th in completion percentage (74.6) and tied for 11th in touchdown passes.

Thanks to him, the Cougars (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) rank second in the nation in passing yards per game (405.8).

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for him,” UCLA coach Chip Kelly said of Ward. “He should be in the conversation for the top quarterbacks in the country. He’s athletic, he is sharp, (and) he throws an extremely accurate ball. I think he’s got great ball location and accuracy. It seems like he’s doing a great job decision-making this year. He can obviously beat you with his legs. He is right up there with the top quarterbacks in the country.”

The Cougars have been idle since their impressive 38-35 win against then-No. 14 Oregon State on Sept. 23.

Ward threw for 404 yards and four touchdowns against the Beavers, finishing with just six incompletions on 34 pass attempts.

The success of Washington State this season has helped circulate rumors that coach Jake Dickert could be a candidate for one of the higher-profile job openings, such as Michigan State, but he insisted that speculation is just a product of the program’s success.

“We wouldn’t be talking about these things if we were 0-4,” he said. “I love my job. I love being here. We’re focused on right here, right now. Not on the past, not on the future.”

Washington State leading receiver Lincoln Victor sustained a high-ankle sprain in the first half against the Beavers and is doubtful for the matchup against UCLA, but Dickert said Monday that Victor is making better progress than anticipated.

Cougars safety back Tanner Moku is also expected to make his season debut after missing the first four games with a foot injury.

“We feel fully invested that he’s going to be out there running around on Saturday,” Dickert said of Moku.

A win Saturday for UCLA (3-1, 0-1) would certainly boost its chances of climbing into the Top 25.

The Bruins have also been off since Sept. 23 and their 14-7 loss at then-No. 11 Utah.

Bruins quarterback Dante Moore completed just 15 of 35 passes against the Utes and UCLA was just 3 for 17 on third downs.

On the bright side, the Bruins had four sacks against Utah and hope to put similar pressure on Ward.

“I think we’ll try and limit them so they run the ball,” UCLA defensive lineman Keanu Williams said. “They don’t want to run the ball, so we just got to get them doing what they don’t want to do. If we do that we will be in good shape.”

UCLA and Washington State have not played since 2019, when the Bruins won a 67-63 shootout in Pullman, Wash.

The past five matchups between the teams have been decided by a touchdown or less.

–Field Level Media

Sep 9, 2023; Pullman, Washington, USA; Washington State Cougars fans rush there field after a game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. Washington State won 31-22. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Cameron Ward guides Washington State to upset over No. 19 Wisconsin

Cameron Ward threw two touchdown passes and directed a late scoring drive as Washington State held off No. 19 Wisconsin 31-22 in a non-conference game on Saturday night in Pullman, Wash., upsetting a ranked Badgers team for the second straight season.

Wisconsin (1-1), which trailed 24-9 at the half, cut the deficit to 24-22 and took over on the Cougars’ 49-yard line with 9:45 remaining. Badgers running back Chez Mellusi fumbled on the second play, with Jackson Lataimu recovering for the Cougars (2-0).

Ward then directed a 10-play, 57-yard march, capped by Nakia Watson’s 1-yard plunge to put the Cougars up 31-22 with 5:30 remaining. Ward keyed the drive with runs of 23 and 14 yards.

The Badgers’ ensuing drive ended on Tanner Mordecai’s deep incompletion on fourth-and-7 from their own 48.

Watson, who had two touchdowns in last season’s 17-14 upset of Wisconsin, where he played his first two seasons, secured the victory with a 6-yard gain on third-and-7 on the Cougars’ final drive.

Ward completed 20 of 32 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns, and added a team-high 43 rushing yards on 17 attempts. Lincoln Victor had seven catches for 55 yards and one score.

The Badgers were held to just 90 yards rushing on 29 attempts. Mellusi had 49 yards on 12 carries, but Braelon Allen managed just 20 yards on seven carries. Mordecai completed 25 of 40 passes for 278 yards and one score. Wisconsin, which opened with a 38-17 win over Buffalo, also lost three fumbles.

After a lackluster first half, Wisconsin put together two third-quarter scoring drives to pull within 24-22.

Mellusi scored on a 2-yard run to cap a 35-yard drive to make it 24-16. The Badgers scored again on their next possession when Mordecai hit Skyler Bell with a 16-yard touchdown pass with 25 seconds left in the quarter. But Mellusi was stopped on the two-point conversion run.

Washington State took advantage of Wisconsin’s mistakes to build the 24-6 halftime lead.

Ward put the Cougars up 7-0 on their second possession, capping an eight-play, 62-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown toss to Kyle Williams.

Nathanial Vakos brought Wisconsin within 7-3 with a 49-yard field goal.

Ward’s second scoring pass, a 1-yarder to Victor, capped an 87-yard march that put the Cougars up 14-3.

Vakos and Dean Janikowski traded field goals, putting Washington State up 17-6 with 7:14 left in the first half.

The Cougars pushed the lead to 24-6 when Ron Stone Jr. sacked Mordecai and Brennan Jackson recovered the fumble and took it 2 yards for the touchdown.

Vakos hit a 29-yard field goal with 21 seconds left in the half.

–Field Level Media

Dec 17, 2022; Inglewood, CA, USA;   Washington State Cougars quarterback Cameron Ward (1) rolls out to throw a pass against the Fresno State Bulldogs in the second half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Conference preview? Washington State visits Colorado State

The seismic shift in college sports over the summer has left the Pac-12 gutted and the few remaining schools mulling new conference options.

Washington State is one of those teams in limbo, and it could get a glimpse into its future when it opens the 2023 season at Colorado State on Saturday night in Fort Collins, Colo.

The Cougars have been linked to several conferences since other schools have left the Pac-12, and one of those is the Mountain West Conference. So Saturday’s matchup could be a preview of a conference game starting next season.

Washington State finished 7-6 last season (4-5 Pac-12), capped by a loss in the LA Bowl to Fresno State.

The Cougars are the favorite going into Saturday’s matchup and will try to answer some questions in the game.

One is the offensive line. Head coach Jake Dickert plans to use a rotation of players to help protect junior quarterback Cameron Ward.

“We haven’t done that in my history here,” Dickert told the Spokesman-Review. “But I think guys are going to be better playing 50 to 60 snaps a game, having a really desired role on the team and then attacking that role each week. So that’s kind of the plan going into it and we’ll be able to adjust on the fly.”

The Rams were 3-9 last season, head coach Jay Norvell’s first with Colorado State, and it included a 38-7 loss at Washington State. The poor record has a silver lining — it matches Norvell’s record in 2017, his first at Nevada, and the team went 8-5 the following season.

Norvell sounded confident his Rams can make such a leap in 2023.

“We expect to win,” he told the Denver Post. “Is that seven games, is that eight games, is that nine games? I don’t know. I just know this: We’re better at every position, we’re a full inch taller at every position. I can’t say that at any program that I’ve ever been in. Physically, our profile is more of what (my staff) looks for.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) waves to fans while walking to the locker room following a 54-7 victory against the Colorado Buffaloes at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

No. 13 Washington, rival Washington State vie for Apple Cup

Washington State ended a seven-game skid in the Apple Cup last season and looks to upend the season of No. 13 Washington when the fierce rivals meet in Pac-12 play on Saturday night at Pullman, Wash.

The Huskies (9-2, 6-2 Pac-12) still have an outside chance of reaching the conference title game but a loss would end that pursuit.

Washington enters with a five-game winning streak but first-year coach Kalen DeBoer has noticed a coveted piece of hardware is missing.

“We definitely don’t have that trophy in our trophy case right now,” DeBoer said. “I know that it means a lot. It is one of those two games that all of Husky Nation circles each year and we are looking forward to having a great week. I think that we are playing for a lot of stuff, it is not just that trophy.”

DeBoer has set the school record for most victories by a first-year coach and he was rewarded Tuesday with a contract extension through the 2028 season. His salary for next season was increased by $1 million to $4.2 with annual $100,000 raises to follow.

A big part of Washington’s rise is due to the stellar season put together by Indiana transfer quarterback Michael Penix Jr.

Penix leads the nation with 3,869 passing yards, which ranks second in school history behind Cody Pickett’s 4,458 yards in 2002. Penix has tossed 26 touchdowns against six interceptions.

Penix passes praise around in the same manner as his 66.7 completion percentage.

“My season wouldn’t be possible without this team,” Penix said. “I don’t really talk about just myself in general. It’s always about this team because team success would definitely put light on individual success.”

“At the end of the day, no matter what you do as an individual, if your team isn’t winning it’s no good.”

Washington State (7-4, 4-4) has won three straight as it looks to beat the Huskies in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2007-08.

The Cougars have won just six of the past 23 Apple Cups but put on a dominating show last season when they won 40-13 in Seattle. Washington State intercepted four passes and held Washington to just 200 yards.

“I thought they played free,” Cougars coach Jake Dickert said of the impressive win. “I thought that’s a big thing in a rivalry game, in a perceived big moment. Guys got to go cut it loose and be themselves and have fun and understand it’s going to be a little chippy. … Enjoy the moment. Be present in it.”

This is the first Apple Cup for Washington State quarterback Cameron Ward, who has passed for 2,772 yards, 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions this season.

While he said he is eager to add his name to the list of quarterbacks who won the Apple Cup, he also insisted Saturday’s matchup isn’t any bigger than any other game.

“There is a lot of energy around the building,” Ward said. “For me specifically, it’s just another game. I try to approach each and every game the same. This game has a bigger tag and has bigger history behind it and we want to win it for Washington State and all the Cougs out there.”

Washington State ranks 23rd in scoring defense at 19.8 points per game with star linebacker Daiyan Henley (102 tackles, 12 for losses) leading the way.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Washington State Cougars celebrate a touchdown against the Arizona Wildcats during the second half at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Washington State gives former QB Jayden de Laura, Arizona a hard time in win

Derrick Langford scored on a 35-yard interception return and Sam Lockett III picked off two passes as Washington State eliminated Arizona from bowl eligibility with a 31-20 victory Saturday in Tucson, Ariz.

The Cougars (7-4, 4-4 Pac-12) finished with four interceptions — all in the second half — as they won the showdown against former WSU quarterback Jayden de Laura. Arizona (4-7, 2-6) actually outgained Washington State 441-354, but much of that advantage came late in the game. The Wildcats didn’t reach the end zone until the fourth quarter after trailing 31-6.

Washington State quarterback Cameron Ward, whose transfer from Incarnate Word prompted de Laura to leave for Arizona, completed 25 of 36 passes for 193 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. His legs were key, too, as he carried eight times for 59 yards and a touchdown.

De Laura completed 28 of 46 passes for 357 yards and a touchdown to go along with the four interceptions. Dorian Singer caught nine passes for 176 yards, including a 47-yard TD with 1:16 to go.

The Cougars, who entered with the top-ranked scoring defense in the conference, led 21-6 at halftime and made the first big play of the second half when Lockett returned an interception 31 yards to the Arizona 19. WSU moved inside the 1-yard-line but settled for a 23-yard field goal with 4:45 left in the third quarter.

Langford’s pick-six came on the next possession, and Lockett’s second interception came on a diving grab to stop a drive at the WSU 4. Armani Marsh made the final interception with 3:51 left in the game when he grabbed a tipped pass at the WSU 46.

Arizona failed to score in the first quarter for the first time this season and twice turned the ball over on downs in the first 19 minutes. Washington State went up 14-0 with 9:06 to go in the half when Ward kept on a run-pass option and scooted untouched for a 17-yard touchdown.

–Field Level Media

Nov 12, 2022; Pullman, Washington, USA; Washington State Cougars running back Nakia Watson (25) carries the ball n for a score against Arizona State Sun Devils defensive back Jordan Clark (1) in the first half at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Wazzu holds on to snuff Arizona St., 28-18

Nakia Watson rushed for 116 yards and three touchdowns, and host Washington State’s defense smothered Arizona State until late in the game in its 28-18 win Saturday in Pullman, Wash.

The Cougars (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12) gained bowl eligibility with their sixth win.

Washington State quarterback Cam Ward completed 22 of 37 passes for 219 yards and one touchdown. The Cougars amassed 356 total yards to 333 for the Sun Devils, who didn’t reach triple digits until the midpoint of the third quarter.

Xazavian Valladay ran for 134 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries, but Arizona State (3-7, 2-5) had little passing to help him out until it was too late.

Quarterback Trenton Bourguet, who was making his third start after taking over for Emory Jones, completed just 3 of 10 passes for 26 yards, often under heavy pressure. Bourguet left with a leg injury late in the second quarter and was replaced by Jones, who went 15-of-23 passing for 186 yards and two touchdowns.

It was Valladay’s sixth 100-yard effort this season and the 20th of his career in 49 games. He added another 55 yards on six catches.

The Cougars took a lopsided 28-0 lead into halftime, but the Sun Devils tried to make it a game late in the third quarter. Jones connected with Jaylin Conyers for a 47-yard pass play to break the shutout with 51 seconds left in the quarter.

About midway through the fourth, Jones missed an open receiver in the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the 7, but Valladay capped a four-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown run with 4:10 left to play to make it 28-12.

The Sun Devils capitalized when the Cougars failed to convert a fourth-and-1 with just over two minutes left at the Arizona State 37. A 35-yard pass to Valladay set up a 9-yard scoring toss to Elijhah Badger to make it a 28-18 game.

Watson had a 22-yard burst late in the second quarter to set up his third touchdown, a career high, and the Cougars’ fourth of the day. He capped the 13-play, 75-yard drive with a 2-yard run, and Dean Janikowski’s second extra point made it 28-0.

Earlier, Watson scored from 2 yards out with 6:31 left in the first quarter, and again on a 5-yard rush with 7:43 left in the second. In between, Ward underhanded a pass, barely more than a handoff, to receiver Leyton Smithson as he went by on a sweep for a 2-yard score late in the first.

–Field Level Media