The foregone conclusion became reality.
Coach Pete Carroll and the USC Trojans played host to Coach Paul Wulff and the Washington State Cougars Saturday evening at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
USC produced a workman-like 27-6 victory, a far cry from the 69-0 whopping they put on the Cougs in Pullman last fall.
The game was decided in the first quarter when once again WSU gave up too many points in the first quarter. Saturday night, the total surrendered reached 20. That essentially put the game out of reach with three quarters of football left to play.
In a game showcasing true freshmen playing Pac-10 football, Coach Carroll clearly has found a solid starting quarterback. Matt Barkley played a fine football game completing 13 of 22 pass attempts for 247 yards and two touchdowns. Despite those passing numbers, perhaps his best stat was avoiding turnovers.
Once again, Coach Wulff's team showed they don't quit. Washington State played toe-to-toe with USC after staking them to a 20-point lead. Not a good situation for a very young football team.
Marshall Lobbestael got the start for WSU again this week. He struggled on the first four possessions while the Cougar defense began playing good football.
With Kevin Lopina out with a leg injury, true freshman Jeff Tuel suddenly found himself moving up to number two on the depth chart. Coach Wulff was hoping to redshirt the promising quarterback.
More importantly, Coach Wulff wants to get the best players on the field to win football games.
With 8:35 left in the first half, Tuel's red shirt came off as he entered the lineup to compete and lead the offense. About two and a half minutes later, he completed the first pass attempt of his college career.
Washington State held the football the rest of the half using 19 plays to cover 58 yards. The drive ended in a missed 34-yard field goal try.
Sometimes the best defense can be a good offense. The drive led by Tuel didn't produce points, but it sent the Cougs to the locker room on a positive finish to the first half.
The final drive of the first half also established Washington State's ability to run against the third-best rushing defense in the nation. USC was yielding just 51 yards per game to their opponents. Though the Cougs netted just 85 yards for the game, their rushing gains were reduced by USC tallying eight sacks for 42 yards.
After the game Coach Wulff had plenty to say about the game.
"It is a loss and you can’t hide that. We just have to take our victories within the game and keep building. Our defense did some really, really good things. We had some goal line stands. Once we started running the ball we kind of slowed down their pass rush. Running the ball was critical. I thought we ran the ball quite well, better than most people had all year (against USC). We’ve lost three offensive linemen in the last three weeks with Steve Ayers going down today. We’re playing a freshman in at left guard and at left tackle. They got better. They’re going to grow up. We’ve got one senior in our two-deep and they’re going to keep getting better and better. (Physically) we’re getting better. We're redshirting a lot of good young players. This is a rebuilding project, but it’s all behind us, a lot of it, and we just keep moving forward."
True freshman Jeff Tuel finished the game completing 14 of 22 pass attempts for 130 yards.
True freshman Gino Simone led the Coug receiving corps with eight catches for 83 yards.
True freshman Travis Long had five tackles, a sack and forced a fumble.
Red shirt sophomore transfer Alex Hoffman-Ellis led the team in tackles with ten.
As Coach Wulff said, the game was a win for the Trojans.
Washington State football is moving in a direction destined to deliver wins.
Originally published in Lew's column on Examiner.com