What we learned from the Cougars’ win over Utah
By Jim Moore
The Cougars are bowl eligible after beating Utah 49-37 Saturday at Martin Stadium.
They’re 6-5 and can assure themselves of a postseason spot somewhere if they beat the Huskies in the Apple Cup on Friday.
After rushing out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, the Cougars held on to defeat Utah and clinch bowl eligibility in just the second year under head coach Mike Leach. (AP)
Three things we learned:
1. They’re better than we thought.
Or than I thought anyway. I’ve had a hard time trying to figure them out.
After Arizona State smacked us around on Halloween, I thought we’d lose out. I didn’t see us beating Arizona, Utah OR Washington. Now we’re in a position to win all three.
2. Connor Halliday is on a roll.
I think he still leads the country in interceptions, but he threw only one against Arizona and was pick-less against Utah. He actually did throw one against Utah, but I guess it doesn’t count in the stats, coming as it did on a failed two-point conversion.
Halliday completed 39 of 62 for 488 yards and four touchdowns. He was throwing it all over the lot – short, wide, deep, down the sideline – and connecting more often than not.
“When everybody is playing together, that’s what this offense can do,” Halliday said.
3. The offensive line had a spectacular game.
Utah led the country in sacks with 36, and Halliday can move around a bit, but he isn’t exactly mobile. Seemed like a bad combination, but the Utes never got to Halliday.
Four things we’re still trying to figure out:
1. Should fans have stormed the field?
The Cougs beat a so-so Utah team, and to call the Utes so-so is probably generous. They’ve now lost six in a row since beating Stanford.
Does a win over Utah warrant an on-field celebration? Probably not, but what the heck — we haven’t had a six-win season since 2006.
This will be the first non-losing season in seven years, and if we beat the Huskies, it will be the first winning season since 2003.
2. Will a bowl game want the Cougs if they finish 6-6?
There are too many bowl-eligible teams for spots available. If you’re weighing out the strengths of the Cougs vs. other teams, I’d think you’d want a team that would be thrilled to be there.
You’d also have to want a coach like Mike Leach and an entertaining brand of ball with the Air Raid offense.
But the Cougs could guarantee a berth with a win on Friday in the Apple Cup.
3. Have the Cougars ever had two pick sixes in a game?
It happened against Utah, and both came in the first quarter, delivered by Damonte Horton and Casey Locker. In 40 years of watching Cougar football, I can’t recall it happening.
The Go 2 Guy also writes for his website jimmoorethego2guy.com and kitsapsun.com. You can reach Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.