Three takeaways from Washington State's dominant win over Arizona
Washington State picked off Arizona quarterback Jayden de Laura four times in the second half at Arizona Stadium on Saturday to end the Wildcats’ hope for a bowl bid in Year 2. The Cougars never trailed, led by as many as 25 in the second half, and wrapped up a 31-20 win to move to 7-4 on the season. Arizona dropped to 4-7 with the loss.
Here are three takeaways from the game.
Washington State wins the emotional battle
A week ago, Jayden de Laura played his best game of the season in helping the Wildcats upset UCLA at the Rose Bowl. On Saturday, the mercurial quarterback played easily his worst game of the season. Facing his former team in a game that has absolutely been circled since he committed to transfer to Arizona this past offseason, de Laura turned the football over four times and fumbled another. He threw four second-half interceptions.
There was an obvious emotional component to this game for both sides. Washington State picked Cameron Ward, de Laura wanted to go somewhere that would allow him to play the Cougs again. If you followed the back-and-forth this week, it was obvious there are still some feelings about the way things ended last season.
Washington State handled that piece of it better. Arizona’s explosive offense was just out of sync all day. Receivers cut short routes that de Laura expected to be extended — something that led to multiple interceptions. In one instance, that led to a brief dust-up on the sideline between de Laura and Arizona wideout Dorian Singer.
The former Pac-12 Freshman of the Year finished 28-for-46 for 357 yards, one touchdown, and four picks. Arizona got a couple of garbage scores that made things look closer than they were; after going into the halftime break up 21-6, the Cougs forced a pair of three-and-outs to open the second half and then picked off de Laura three times before the third quarter came to a close. One of those was returned for a touchdown.
Washington State wins with defense
For the ninth time this season, the Cougar defense held an opponent under 25 points. (Wazzu hadn’t done that since the 1994 team did it in all 12 games.) The defense continues to show its a new era in Pullman, one where nothing is going to come easy for whoever lines up across from the Cougars.
The offense did what was needed. Quarterback Cameron Ward had a fine game, completing 25 of his 36 passes for 193 yards and a score. He was only sacked once all day. The run game averaged 4.5 yards a carry. The Cougars were in plus spots all game, though. They won the field position battle with an average starting spot at the 35-yard-line. In the second half, the Cougs’ average starting field position was around the 40.
When you can get that kind of advantage, protect your quarterback, and not turn the football over, you’re going to win a lot of football games.
Arizona wideouts make some history
Singer finished with nine receptions for 176 yards and a touchdown. That brought his season total to 1,014 yards.
Jacob Cowing hauled in six catches for 37 yards, bringing his season total to 1,001 yards.
With one game still to play, the Wildcats have their first 1,000-yard receiver since 2014. With both Singer and Cowing doing it, they’ve become the first teammates in Arizona program history to reach 1,000 yards in the same season.