Washington State Pulls the Upset!

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I grew up as a University of Washington football fan. Husky fans coined a term called “Couged it.” “Couging it” means the Cougars lose a game they should have won. On Saturday, the Badgers “Couged it”. The Washington State Cougars played the 19th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers on the road as 17-point underdogs and came out of Camp Randall Stadium with an unexpecting 17-14 win. Shockingly, the Cougars beat the Badgers in the first place, but even more shocking that the Badgers lost to an unranked team in their very own Camp Randall Stadium.

Going into the game on Saturday, the Badgers were the favorite. Even at the end of the game, the Badgers had a statistical advantage over the Cougars: they held onto the ball for almost 40 minutes and ran 25 more plays. Wisconsin outgained the Cougars 401-253. However, the Cougars started the game strong, and the Badgers faced some costly penalties and turnovers.

FULL RECAP: No. 19 Wisconsin drops heartbreaking loss to Washington State - Bucky's 5th Quarter Photo Cred: http://www.buckys5thquarter.com

The Badgers rely heavily on their defense to help them win games because of Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz’s inconsistency. However, the Cougar’s defense outshined the Badgers and stopped them from getting into the endzone during the fourth quarter of the game. The Cougar’s defense showed early and often as they swarmed the ball and stopped Wisconsin’s run game.

At the beginning of the game, the Badgers gained just 41 yards on the ground in 14 carries, which was a very encouraging result out of the gate, but the Cougar’s defense kept the Badgers out of the end zone. Mertz is not the only one to blame for the Badger’s inability to score a touchdown – the play calling by the Badger’s offensive coordinator was unimaginative and predictable, running most of the game.

Washington State upsets No. 19 Wisconsin with help from former Badgers running back - CBSSports.com

The turning point for the Cougars was during the second quarter when Wisconsin strung together several first downs but eventually turned the ball over on downs after not converting on a fourth down and short. The Cougars answered quickly with a four-play drive that gave them a 53-yard gain in just over a minute of game time. Washington State quarterback Cam Ward threw a couple of perfect first-down throws, and former Wisconsin running back Nakia Watson ran into the endzone to take a 7-0 lead.

The Badgers retaliated, however, with Mertz throwing a 17-yard touchdown to tight end Clay Cundiff, tying up the game. Wisconsin took the halftime lead after Mertz orchestrated a five-play, 45-yard touchdown drive.

It looked promising for the Badgers as they headed into the third quarter but with an interception from Jay Shaw off Cam Ward, which was unfortunately fumbled on the return, giving Washington State another first down. The Cougars marched down the rest of the field, and former Wisconsin tailback broke a Kamo’I Latu tackle and found the endzone giving Washington State a 17-14 lead.

Photo Cred: USA Today

Wisconsin had the chance to tie the game, but Vito Calvaruso missed his second kick. Tensions were high going into the fourth quarter after the missed field goal, with the possibility of a loss becoming more of a reality. Badger fans did not lose hope as Wisconsin got some movement in their run game with Braelon Allen and Isaac Guerendo.

What led to the loss? Penalties and turnovers. Later, when the Badgers had the ball, Mertz hit Clay Cundiff for a first down and fumbled the ball back to Washington State. From there, Washington State kept possession of the ball, won the game, and walked out of Camp Randall with an upset win. Badger fans walked out of the stadium with their tails between their legs.

It’s frustrating because every time Wisconsin faced even a little resistance, their offense had a tough time leading the Badgers to a comeback win by stringing together plays that would lead to a touchdown. It’s been a reoccurring theme for the Badgers that once down, they have a tough time coming back and scoring
touchdowns.

Photo Cred: USA Today

There is plenty of blame to go around for Wisconsin. Blame can go to Graham Mertz, the Badger’s defense, and the unimaginative play calling, but I think that the numerous penalties the Badgers received played roles in their loss.

“We did some things today that make it hard to win.” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said.

Nakia Watson said that he had extra motivation facing his former team. Watson scored both of Washington State’s two touchdowns. “There was most definitely a chip on my shoulder, just playing against my old boys, a couple of roommates,” Watson said. “I feel like that’s the type of mentality that you have to have when you’re playing against people you know, just having that chip on your shoulder, that edge, fighting to the echo of the whistle.”

Ward went 17 of 28 for 200 yards but threw two interceptions. Braelon Allen had 21 carries for 98 yards which was only the second time in his last 11 games that he’s run under 100 yards. Washington State’s defense limited Wisconsin’s rushing attack to 174 yards on 44 carries, and Wisconsin had its highest totals in penalties and yardage since getting flagged 13 times against Purdue in 2018.

Cameron Ward a mixed bag in Washington State's upset win vs. Wisconsin

Photo Cred: USA Today

Good looks for the Pac-12 as the Cougars leave Wisconsin with an upset win. I mean, the Washington State Cougars beat the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium no one expected that outcome. Wisconsin hosts New Mexico State this Saturday, September 17.

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