Sep 17, 2022; Eugene, Oregon, USA;  Oregon Ducks quarterback Bo Nix (10) rolls out to pass the ball during the second half against the Brigham Young Cougars at Autzen Stadium. Oregon won the game 41-20. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

After stellar showing, Bo Nix leads No. 15 Oregon into Washington State

It seems Bo Nix is starting to settle in at Oregon.

The quarterback — who transferred in the offseason after starting for three seasons at Auburn — garnered national accolades after leading the host Ducks to a 41-21 victory against then-ranked No. 12 BYU last weekend.

Nix and No. 15 Oregon (2-1) will open Pac-12 Conference play Saturday when they travel to Pullman, Wash., to take on a surging Washington State (3-0).

Nix completed 13 of 18 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns against BYU and also rushed for three scores. The last Oregon quarterback to score at least three times on the ground and twice through the air in a single game was Heisman-winner Marcus Mariota in 2014.

“I felt like I didn’t do anything different, just went out there and played the game, let it come to me,” Nix said. “At the end of the day I’m a point guard… So, my job is kind of easy: Knowing what to do with the ball, knowing who to give the ball to, and then letting those guys do their thing.”

Nix rebounded from a shaky opener — a 49-3 loss to defending national champion Georgia — to guide the Ducks to a 70-14 victory against Eastern Washington before the BYU game, for which he was named player of the week by the Maxwell Award, the Pac-12, and the Senior Bowl. He was also selected to the Davey O’Brien Great 8 of the Week.

“One of my past coaches told me that pressure is a privilege, and so I’ve really taken that to heart, and there’s nothing more true, in my opinion,” Nix said. “When you have a lot of pressure, it means that people believe in you; people believe you can do it or you wouldn’t have pressure at all.”

First-year Oregon coach Dan Lanning is optimistic the Ducks will have running back Byron Cardwell Jr. and linebacker Justin Flowe back this week. Neither played against BYU because of unspecified injuries.

“I wouldn’t sit here and say they’re both 100 percent yet, but I’m hopeful that both of them can help us this next weekend,” Lanning said.

The Ducks, who moved up 10 spots in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll this week, could use a full complement of players against a Washington State team that counts a 17-14 decision at then-ranked No. 19 Wisconsin among its victories.

The Cougars returned home last weekend and defeated Colorado State 38-7 as Cameron Ward threw for 299 yards and four touchdowns.

Wazzu scored on its first four possessions.

“We started fast,” Cougars’ coach Jake Dickert said. “That’s exactly what we needed to do in this football game.”

Dickert praised his players for not falling into the trap of looking ahead to the Oregon game.

“It’s important to take these one game at a time,” he said. “They’ve bought into the mentality of not looking into the big picture.”

But now that it’s Oregon week?

“This is going to be a big-time football game,” Dickert said. “I want those seats full.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Pullman, Washington, USA; Colorado State Rams wide receiver Ty McCullouch (6) is pushed pout of bounds by Washington State Cougars linebacker Ben Wilson (43) in the first half at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Washington St. pounds Colorado St., 38-7

Cam Ward completed four touchdown passes in the first half and threw for 292 total yards in Washington State’s 38-7 win over visiting Colorado State on Saturday at Pullman, Wash.

Washington State is 3-0 for the first time under a first-year coach (Jake Dickert) since Mike Price started 4-0 in 1989.

Colorado State (0-3), in its first season under coach Jay Norvell, experienced difficulty stopping Ward and the Cougars’ offense from the outset.

Washington State sputtered in the second half, however, after building a 28-0 lead by halftime. The Cougars scored on their first four drives of the game. Those scores included Ward’s touchdown passes of 17 and 2 yards to Donovan Ollie, and 13 and 19 yards to De’Zhaun Stribling.

Ward completed 26 of 36 pass attempts with one interception in the game.

Colorado State had 82 yards of total offense in the first half and finished with 248 in the game. The Rams rushed for 37 yards.

Washington State tallied seven sacks, three by Daiyan Henley, a linebacker who transferred from Nevada, where he played for Norvell.

Colorado State’s Clay Millen threw for 211 yards with a touchdown and an interception while completing 24 of 34 attempts.

Washington State appeared it was going to drive for another touchdown to start the second half with Ward’s successive completions of 25 yards to Stribling, 18 to Ollie and 27 to Lincoln Victor to the Colorado State 5.

The Rams’ defense limited the Cougars to a 22-yard field goal by Dean Janikowski with 13:15 left in the third quarter that increased the lead to 31-0.

Neither offense could sustain a scoring drive after that until 11:07 remained in the game when Colorado State went 70 yards in 10 plays, capped by Millen’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Justus Ross-Simmons.

Washington State’s possessions in the second half after the made field goal included two punts, a turnover on downs and an interception thrown by Ward before Kannon Katzer scored on a 1-yard run with 1:09 left.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2022; Pullman, Washington, USA; Washington State Cougars head coach Jake Dickert sings the school fight song after defeating the Idaho Vandals at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. Washington State won 24-17. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Familiarity a key for Wazzu’s Jake Dickert vs. No. 19 Wisconsin

Washington State coach Jake Dickert has a pretty good idea of what to expect Saturday when his Cougars travel to his home state to take on 19th-ranked Wisconsin in Madison.

Wisconsin and Washington State each opened with non-conference victories over FCS teams last weekend. The Badgers dominated Illinois State 38-0, and the Cougars overcame a 10-0 deficit and held off Idaho 24-17.

Wisconsin dropped one spot in the AP poll despite its victory.

Dickert grew up in Wisconsin and played college football at Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where he also began his coaching career as a grad assistant.

“I think when you grow up there, there’s a few things that are in your blood, right? Beer, cheese and Packers and Badgers and Bucks and Brewers,” he said. “I’m a product of Wisconsin.

“Our team is ready for this environment and in what that’s going to mean going on the road and trying to win against a really good football team,” Dickert said. “That is the focus. Period.”

Against Illinois State, the Badgers got a school-record 100-yard interception return for a touchdown from John Torchio for their first score. On their next possession, Braelon Allen scored on a 96-yard run, and the Badgers were in control the rest of the way. Wisconsin led 17-0 at the half and 31-0 entering the final period.

Allen, who rushed for 1,268 yards last season as a freshman, carried 14 times against Illinois State with 148 yards and two TDs. Graham Mertz, who was inconsistent last season, completed 14 of 16 passes for 219 yards and one touchdown.

“I got to grow up in the Ron Dayne era,” Dickert said of the Badgers’ running back great. “The history of Wisconsin at tailback and Braelon Allen is probably, if not, maybe going to be the best one ever to come through there. I’ll let those fans decide that. But he’s a physical talent, he’s amazing, and he reminds me a little bit of Ron Dayne.”

Against Illinois State, the Badgers allowed four passes of 23 yards or more but also had two interceptions and four sacks. Wisconsin was penalized five times for 51 yards.

“I liked a lot of what we did,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. “I thought the effort and the way they went about things was good. And you look at the film, and each individual, each group, and yes as a team, there’s areas where we need to get better and can get better.”

Cameron Ward, a transfer from Incarnate Word, threw three touchdown passes in his debut for Washington State. He completed 25 of 40 passes for 215 yards without an interception. Ward led the Football Championship Subdivision in touchdown passes last season with 47 and was third in passing yards with 4,648.

The Cougars ran for 143 yards last week, 5.7 per carry. Nakia Watson, who transferred to Washington State after two seasons at Wisconsin, ran for a team-high 117 yards on 18 carries.

Washington State held Idaho to 62 yards on 34 rushing attempts, and no touchdowns. Idaho managed 212 yards through the year but the Cougars also picked off two passes and had seven sacks.

The Cougars fumbled three times and lost them all, with the first one returned 45 yards for Idaho’s first touchdown.

“At the line of scrimmage is where Wisconsin has been tremendous for a long time, and that’s their calling card,” Dickert said. “The challenge is to make sure we keep Cam upright.”

Wisconsin and Washington State have met just once, with the Badgers winning 42-21 at home in 2007.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2022; Pullman, Washington, USA; Washington State Cougars quarterback Cameron Ward (1) is forced out of the pocket by Idaho Vandals defensive lineman Zach Krotzer (96) in the first half at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Wazzu rallies to defeat Idaho in Battle of the Palouse

Cam Ward threw for 215 yards and three touchdowns, and Nakia Watson rushed for 117 yards to lead host Washington State to a 24-17 win over Idaho on Saturday at Pullman, Wash.

Washington State won the Battle of the Palouse rivalry game in a series that started in 1894 after overcoming a 10-0 deficit late in the second quarter. The Cougars lead the series 73-16-3.

Ward, who transferred to Wazzu from Incarnate Ward after passing for 4,648 yards and 47 touchdowns last season, completed 25 of 40 passes against Idaho. He did not throw an interception.

Idaho had one last gasp after Washington State’s Dean Janikowski missed a 23-yard field-goal attempt with 53 seconds left.

Gevani McCoy completed three passes for 52 yards in the ensuing drive but his pass from the Washington State 28 with 12 seconds left was intercepted by Daiyan Henley a yard in front of the end zone.

McCoy completed 21 of 32 pass attempts for 212 yards, with two interceptions and a touchdown.

Ward’s 13-yard touchdown pass to De’Zhaun Stribling with 8:17 left in the third quarter gave Washington State its first lead of the game, 17-10.

Both offenses struggled to start the second half. Idaho punted three times and turned the ball over on downs, and Washington State was forced to punt twice and also fumbled the ball away.

Former Washington State defender Fa’Avae Fa’Avae forced the fumble by Watson and Devante Keys recovered the ball at the Cougars 48. In the Vandals’ ensuing possession, McCoy was sacked for a loss of 14 yards by Jordan Lee and Armani Marsh on fourth-and-9.

The Cougars took over. After a pass-interference call moved the ball to the Idaho 24, Ward completed three consecutive passes, including an 8-yard scoring strike to Jaylen Jenkins to give the Cougars a 24-10 lead with 10:33 left.

Idaho’s offense came alive with an eight-play, 75-yard drive that culminated with a 23-yard touchdown pass from McCoy to Jordan Dwyer with 6:05 remaining that cut the lead to 24-17.

–Field Level Media

Oct 16, 2021; Pullman, Washington, USA; Washington State Cougars head coach Nick Rolovich looks on during warms before a game against the Stanford Cardinal at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Nick Rolovich seeking $25M from Washington State

Former football coach Nick Rolovich filed a claim against Washington State for wrongful termination and is seeking $25 million, the Seattle Times reported.

The school fired Rolovich and four assistant coaches for cause last October after they failed to comply with Gov. Jay Inslee’s mandate that required all state employees in Washington to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Rolovich, who is Catholic, filed a request for a religious exemption to the mandate but was denied.

Rolovich, 43, had three years and about $9 million left on his contract at the time. The Cougars were 5-6 during his 1 1/2 seasons as the head coach.

According to the Seattle Times, a $25 million tort claim was filed on Rolovich’s behalf on April 27 with the state’s Office of Risk Management.

A tort claim is a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit against a state agency. Rolovich had not filed a suit as of Tuesday, a spokesperson for the state attorney general’s office told the newspaper.

–Field Level Media

Dec 31, 2021; El Paso, Texas, USA; Washington State Cougars quarterback Jayden de Laura (4) drops back to pass the ball against the Central Michigan Chippewas defense in the 88th annual Sun Bowl football game at Sun Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

Wazzu QB Jayden de Laura set to transfer to Arizona

Quarterback Jayden de Laura, the Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year for Washington State this season, is transferring to Arizona.

de Laura made the announcement on Twitter, with the Honolulu product writing, “IT’S PERSONAL!!!” above a graphic that had a caption, “DESERT BOUND.”

He threw for 2,798 yards, 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 2021 as the Cougars went 7-6, including a Sun Bowl loss to Central Michigan.

The move came on the same day that FCS All-America quarterback Cameron Ward announced his transfer to Washington State. Ward was a star at Incarnate Word, and his head coach there, Eric Morris, was recently hired to serve as the Cougars’ offensive coordinator.

Ward passed for 4,648 yards, 47 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while guiding Incarnate Word to a 10-3 record.

In 2020, de Laura appeared in four games for Washington State and passed for 886 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions. Because he played in four or fewer games, he retained his freshman eligibility. He will have three years of eligibility left upon his arrival in Tucson, Ariz.

–Field Level Media

Dec 31, 2021; El Paso, Texas, USA; Washington State Cougars quarterback Jayden de Laura (4) drops back to pass the ball against the Central Michigan Chippewas defense in the 88th annual Sun Bowl football game at Sun Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Washington State QB Jayden de Laura enters transfer portal

Washington State quarterback Jayden de Laura entered the transfer portal on Friday, according to multiple reports.

The Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year passed for 2,798 yards, 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions this season.

Reports suggest de Laura’s decision to enter the portal may be tied to the possibility that FCS All-American quarterback Cameron Ward will transfer to Washington State. Ward was a star at Incarnate Word and his coach there, Eric Morris, was recently hired as the Cougars’ offensive coordinator.

Ward passed for 4,648 yards, 47 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while helping Incarnate Word to a 10-3 record.

In 2020, de Laura played in four games for Washington State and passed for 886 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions. He retained his freshman eligibility by playing in four or fewer games.

Washington State went 7-6 this season, finishing with a 24-21 loss to Central Michigan in the Sun Bowl.

–Field Level Media

Sep 4, 2021; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Central Michigan Chippewas running back Lew Nichols III (7) runs the ball against the Missouri Tigers during the game at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

CMU winds up at Sun Bowl vs. Wazzu in last-minute shuffle

Just a couple of hours after the Washington State football team landed Sunday in El Paso, Texas, it learned its opponent in the Sun Bowl, the University of Miami, had been forced to pull out of the Friday game because of coronavirus concerns.

Cougars coach Jake Dickert took to Twitter to issue a plea.

“Our team is in El Paso and willing to play any opponent,” Dickert wrote. “Our team just wants one more chance to finish this storied 2021 season.”

A little more than 24 hours later, Dickert got his wish.

When Boise State pulled out of the Arizona Bowl on Monday because of its own pandemic problems, that left Central Michigan sitting in Tucson, Ariz., with nobody to play Friday.

With Tucson and El Paso only about 300 miles apart on Interstate 10, a deal was struck for the Chippewas to bus eastward to meet Washington State in the Sun Bowl, with the Arizona Bowl being canceled.

Terms of the agreement weren’t announced, but Central Michigan should be in for a windfall. The Sun Bowl, one of the oldest in college football, has a payout of more than $4.5 million per team and is broadcast on CBS. The Arizona Bowl offered a $350,000 payout per school and was going to be streamed online.

“We are grateful for the diligent work of the Sun Bowl Association, the Pac-12 Conference, the Mid-American Conference and Central Michigan University to ensure the 2021 Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl will be played,” Washington State athletic director Pat Chun said in a statement.

The Chippewas (8-4) feature the Football Bowl Subdivision’s leading rusher, Lew Nichols III, who gained 1,710 yards and scored 15 touchdowns on the ground. Nichols also had 300 yards and two TDs receiving.

Despite being the MAC’s freshman of the year in 2020, Nichols was supposed to be a secondary option this season until Kobe Lewis sustained a knee injury in summer camp.

“I kind of just pulled (Nichols) aside and said, ‘Look, here we go, let’s jump on your back and ride,’” McElwain said. “I’ve been at some pretty good places, had a Heisman Trophy winner (Mark Ingram Jr. in 2009, when McElwain was an assistant at Alabama) and had some other things.

“But to lead the nation in rushing, that’s a heck of a feat.”

The Chippewas won their final four regular-season games, a span in which they averaged 41 points per contest, to tie Northern Illinois for the MAC’s West Division title.

The Cougars (7-5) have won six of their past eight games, including snapping a seven-game Apple Cup losing streak with a 40-13 victory against rival Washington. Max Borghi rushed for 129 yards and two TDs in that game but is skipping the bowl game and entering the NFL draft.

Cougars right tackle Abraham Lucas and cornerback Jaylen Watson also didn’t make the trip to prepare for their pro futures.

“We had a lot of conversations about it, and we obviously wish them the best of luck, and we support them,” said Dickert, who took over at midseason after Nick Rolovich was dismissed for not following the state’s vaccine mandate. “Everyone has their own individual situations.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 30, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; A general view of a Miami Hurricanes helmet in the end zone prior to the game between the Miami Hurricanes and the Virginia Cavaliers at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Miami (FL) withdraws from Sun Bowl due to COVID-19

Miami (FL) will not play in Friday’s Sun Bowl against Washington State due to an ongoing COVID-19 situation within its program, the university announced Sunday night.

The Hurricanes first entered COVID protocols last Tuesday, with the Miami Herald reporting at the time that several players had tested positive for the coronavirus. The program pushed back its arrival in El Paso, Texas, until one day prior to the Sun Bowl as it hoped to fend off the spread of COVID affecting multiple position groups.

It was unclear whether the Sun Bowl would find a new opponent for Washington State so the game can go on as scheduled. Three bowl games — the Military Bowl, Fenway Bowl, and Hawaii Bowl — had previously been canceled due to COVID spread.

Although SMU, East Carolina, and Memphis became bowl-eligible teams without bowl games, officials at those schools indicated that players had been dispersed from the teams and they would not anticipate rescheduling in a different bowl. Following the first coronavirus casualty of the bowl season, Rutgers received a late invitation to replace Texas A&M in the Gator Bowl and will face Wake Forest on New Year’s Eve.

“We are extremely disappointed that our football team will be unable to participate in the 2021 Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl,” Jennifer Strawley, Miami’s deputy director of athletics and chief operating officer, said in a statement. “But due to the number of COVID-19 cases impacting our roster we do not have enough student-athletes to safely compete, and the health and safety of our student-athletes will always be our top priority. This team worked hard all season to earn a bowl invitation and my heart goes out to our student-athletes, especially our seniors.”

The Hurricanes fired coach Manny Diaz after a 7-5 regular season and hired alum and former Oregon coach Mario Cristobal. Interim coach Jess Simpson was slated to lead the team in the game against the Cougars.

“We regret the impact this has on the Washington State program and their postseason experience,” Strawley’s statement said. “I want to commend the Sun Bowl Association for their tireless work in helping us navigate this situation over the past several days.”

–Field Level Media