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Still reeling after the Cougs' epic, inexplicable collapse

AP997618928105
Washington State's first bowl game in 10 years ended with the Cougars fumbling away a sure win. (AP)

By Jim Moore

Wherever you were, you had to be sitting there in disbelief. If you're a Cougars fan, you were equal parts dumbfounded and shocked. If you're a Huskies fan, you were laughing and saying, "They Coug'd it again."

It's the day after, and I thought the passing of a little bit of time might lessen the disappointment, but it hasn't. In fact, it's gotten worse. That 48-45 loss to Colorado State was inexcusable.

One of my 9-year-olds was so upset that he was yelling, "I'm not going to school there" as he deleted the recording of the New Mexico Bowl.

In 40 years of watching Cougar football, the only game that comes close to that one is the 1975 Apple Cup when we blew a 27-14 lead in the final three minutes and lost 28-27. That was worse because it happened against the Dawgs. But this one? We led 45-30 with 3 minutes to go.

Think about all the things that would have to go wrong in the last 3 minutes to blow a 15-point lead and lose the game. The hell of it is, I did just that as I watched the game at Acme Bowl with some buddies.

Colorado State needed a touchdown, a three-and-out by the Cougs, another touchdown followed by a two-point conversion, and then they needed to beat us in overtime. I didn't factor in the possibility of us fumbling twice, nor did I think that Colorado State could win in regulation.

This was absolute buffoonery at its finest, and whether he feels it's his fault or not, coach Mike Leach should have taken the blame for the loss.

We all thought the Cougs would hold on after Rickey Galvin caught a third-and-6 pass for a first down with about 2:20 to go in the game. With that much time left, you can't drain it all with three knees from the victory formation, but you can certainly punt it to the Rams and leave them less than 30 seconds with no timeouts to pull off a miracle finish.

So what do we do? We run a read-option with Connor Halliday on first down. First of all, when have we ever run a read-option with Halliday? I was watching our running back on that play, certain that he got the ball. I was even encouraged to see that he had room to run. But he didn't have the ball because Halliday kept it. Then it was jarred loose, and we had to sweat out a long review to rightfully get the ball back because Halliday was down before the ball came out.

So we all sighed, thinking that would be that. But, of course, that wouldn't be that with the Cougs.

If you were like me, you were screaming at your TV wondering why we snapped the ball for the next play with 22 seconds left on the play clock with the game clock running. Someone, anyone, please, tell me why we did that? Those are precious seconds to the Rams if they get the ball back.

Then I guess it didn't matter because Jeremiah Laufasa took the handoff and fumbled it away. Here's a fair question: That was Laufasa's first carry of the game. Why would you give it to him instead of Marcus Mason?

Jacob Thorpe asked Leach about it, and the coach dismissed the question like it was dumb of the Spokesman-Review reporter to ask it when, in fact, it was a great question. When asked about clock management, Leach basically scoffed and harrumphed, saying that the Cougars needed to attack and make more first downs, I guess so the clock wouldn't have been an issue.

Which is completely ridiculous. The Cougars didn't need to "attack" any more to win the game. Running the clock down was more important than getting a final first down at that point.

I'll bet there were coaches around the country wondering what in the world was going on with the coaching on the Washington State sideline in those final minutes.

And let's say you think the kids are to blame – Laufasa for fumbling and Teondray Caldwell for coughing up the kickoff return – that it wasn't Leach who lost the ball. That's fine, but you could argue that Laufasa should not have been in the game, and you could also argue that there never should have been another kickoff to return.

Whether he thinks it was the case or not, Leach should have taken accountability and said he screwed things up in some form or fashion. But, of course, he didn't, throwing out that "attack" mumbo-jumbo instead and being his usual condescending self to a reporter who isn't as smart as he is.

Then after the press conference, he blew off his postgame radio show, leaving Bud Nameck high and dry. Bob Robertson kept asking what happened, and Nameck kept saying, "He was here, but he just left." It made for an awkward and unfortunate ending to the broadcast.

We should be talking about Halliday's six touchdown passes in a 45-37 Cougar win. We should be looking at pictures of celebrating Cougs hoisting the New Mexico Bowl trophy.

We shouldn't have been watching Colorado State fans storming the field, which added another element to the whole fiasco. I can't remember the last time opposing fans stormed the field after beating us.

Now we get to go to work on Monday and prepare for mocking from Huskies fans. We have it coming. If I were them, I'd be saying "You Coug'd it" 'til I was blue in the face, and we don't have a good comeback this time around.

The Go 2 Guy also writes for his website, jimmoorethego2guy.com, and kitsapsun.com. You can reach him at jimmoorethego2guy@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.

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