TEMPE, Ariz. – Youth and inexperience have often been cited as reasons for the continued struggles of the Washington State football team.
Considering that WSU got blown out, 42-0, Saturday by an Arizona State team that started just one senior and saw freshmen and sophomores score every touchdown, the Cougars might be in the market for some new excuses.
The Cougars, who had played respectably the previous three games against Top 25 teams, looked hopelessly overmatched on both sides of the ball against an Arizona State squad that had lost four of its previous five.
“It’s clearly our worst performance of the year,” WSU coach Paul Wulff said. “We didn’t do anything right.”
A 28-point halftime deficit was WSU’s largest this year. The shutout was the first of the year for the Washington State offense and the Arizona State defense.
“We came out flat, no doubt,” WSU quarterback Jeff Tuel said. “There was a look in some guys’ faces like their dog died, and we couldn’t get out of it.
“I don’t have an explanation for it.”
The early minutes of the second half served as a head-slapping, eye-gouging summary of the evening for WSU fans, players and coaches.
After a 41-yard pass from Steven Threet to so-open-he-was-lonely T.J. Simpson set up an easy Cameron Marshall touchdown run on ASU’s opening drive of the third quarter, the Cougars promptly marched their way down to the ASU 13.
A 15-yard personal foul on Wade Jacobson – one of three such penalties against the Cougars – moved the ball back to the 28. One play later, Tuel was sacked. One more play, and running back Marcus Richmond coughed up the ball for one of WSU’s three turnovers.
The Cougars seemed likely to avoid their second shutout in as many trips to Tempe (they lost 31-0 in 2008) when Hallston Higgins recovered an ASU fumble at the Sun Devils’ 12 with four minutes to go. Instead, backup quarterback Marshall Lobbestael fumbled when he was sacked on third down, and holder Reid Forrest fumbled the snap on an attempted field goal before uncorking a pass to nothing but air.
Threet, who missed most of last week’s 50-17 loss to California with a concussion, completed 26 of 32 passes for 300 yards and three touchdowns. The Sun Devils smoked WSU 493-264 in total yardage, including 118-8 on the ground, and had a 5-0 edge in sacks.
“We practiced hard all week and really prepared well,” Threet said. “We executed well.”
“We felt like we should have dominated them,” ASU cornerback LaQuan Lewis said, “and we did.”
Only 44,903 fans turned out for homecoming on a gorgeous evening at 71,706-seat Sun Devil Stadium. The last-place Cougars (1-8 overall, 0-6 Pacific-10 Conference) might be fortunate to draw half as many fans when California (4-4, 2-3) visits Pullman next Saturday. Game time is 1 p.m. on FSN.
WSU’s losing streaks were extended to seven overall, seven against Arizona State, 15 in the Pac-10, 18 against Football Bowl Subdivision teams and 19 away from Pullman.
Wulff’s three-year record at WSU is 4-30. The Cougars’ 30 losses are the most in the FBS since 2008.
The Sun Devils improved to 4-4 overall and 2-3 in the Pac-10. Dennis Erickson, who coached Wulff at WSU in 1987-88, is 23-22 in four years at Arizona State and 5-3 all-time against the Cougars.