SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Washington State Cougars are officially one victory away from being named Pac-12 North champions, and their College Football Playoff hopes remain alive.
Luke Falk threw for 311 yards and three touchdowns and No. 19 Washington State beat Utah 33-25 on Saturday.
The Cougars are now one win from winning the North and playing in the conference championship game for the first time since the league created divisions in 2011.
“For the last three years, we’ve been right on the cusp of the thing,” Washington State coach Mike Leach said. “We’ll see. This is a good group. We’ve won a lot of games in the Pac-12 in the last three years. We need to win another one.”
Washington State (9-2, 6-2) led from start to finish and could have won by more, but settled for five field goals despite moving inside the Utah 30 on those possessions. The Utes turned over the ball on three of its first four possessions, all in the first quarter, but the Cougars found the end zone on just one of the extra opportunities.
Utah (5-5, 2-5) had seven turnovers on the day and has lost five of its last six games.
Chima Onyeukwu picked off Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley’s pass with 58 seconds remaining to seal the win.
Falk set the Pac-12 career touchdown passes record in the second quarter. The Logan, Utah, native surpassed former USC quarterback Matt Barkley with his 117th touchdown pass and finished with 118.
“The only thing I’m after is a championship win and we’re one game away,” said Falk. “If we do our job and put it in, it’s not as close of a game and we don’t have to put that stress on the defense.
The “Air Raid” offense was held in relative check by a stout Utah defense that was put in bad positions all game. It finished with 338 total yards and just 27 on the ground. Falk also threw two interceptions.
Tavares Martin Jr. had 10 catches for 64 yards and a touchdown for Washington State.
“Our defense was lights out tonight,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “But it wasn’t enough to overcome seven turnovers. Going minus-4 before (the Hail Mary interception), can’t win doing that. ... It could have very easily got out of hand in the first half, but our red-zone defense was tremendous.
“Most important stat in football other than the score is the turnover margin and we were on the wrong end of that by a long shot.”
The Washington State defense played well throughout, bottling up the Utah run game and harassing Huntley. Defensive end Hercules Mata’afa entered the game as the league’s second leading sack artist with 6.5 and added three more Saturday. Huntley finished with 305 passing yards, one touchdown, three interceptions and 51 rushing yards on 20 attempts. He was sacked seven times. Running back Zack Moss had 32 yards and two touchdowns on 13 attempts.
“Mental mistakes by us (early) and it cost us,” Huntley said. “We’ve got a lot of things to work on.”
Washington State: Travels to face quarterback Jake Browning and No. 9 Washington on Nov. 25.
Utah: Travels to face the Huskies on Saturday in Pac-12 action.
Love’s 3 TDs lead Stanford past No. 9 Washington 30-22
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — When Bryce Love aggravated his injured ankle in the first half and had to go to the sideline to get checked out, Stanford coach David Shaw wasn’t sure how much he’d be able to get out of his star running back.
Love showed he had plenty left in the latest signature performance in his campaign for the Heisman Trophy.
Love ran 30 times for 166 yards and three touchdowns on the gimpy ankle against the nation’s stingiest defense, leading Stanford to a 30-22 victory over No. 9 Washington on Friday night.
“He goes out there from start to finish and pours his heart out for his teammates,” Shaw said. “I don’t’ know if you could ask anything more of a football player. I don’t know if you can find a better football player in America than Bryce Love.”
Love has not had a full practice in about a month for Stanford (7-3, 6-2 Pac-12) since injuring the ankle four weeks ago against Oregon. His missed one game with the injury and was held to 69 yards last week in a loss at Washington State.
But he gutted it out against a Huskies defense that came into the game ranked first in the nation in yards allowed and second in scoring defense.
“I definitely felt like I was getting in more of a groove throughout,” Love said. “Just seeing things better, feeling a little bit better and just knowing things would open up.”
While he failed to extend his streak of games with a run of at least 50 yards to 11 games, he helped Stanford control the clock and delivered a couple of big runs late. Quarterback K.J. Costello said he had to ask Love if he was OK a few times in the first half.
“Then I watched him run and I was like ‘Dang, I think he’s all right,’” Costello said. “I don’t know what he’s got inside but it’s something real. He’s a grinder, that’s for sure.”
The Huskies (8-2, 6-2 Pac-12, No. 9 CFP) started fast with touchdown runs by Myles Gaskin on the first two drives but stalled after that in a crippling blow to their hopes of getting back to the four-team playoff.
“We had not had fast starts on the road and we did that and then went stagnant for two quarters,” coach Chris Petersen said.
Washington: The Huskies used an up-tempo offense to drive 88 and 89 yards for touchdowns on their first two drives before getting stopped on a fourth-and-1 from the Stanford 19 on the third possession. Washington had only two first downs on the next five drives as the Cardinal adjusted and took control of the game. Gaskin, who ran for 120 yards, added his third TD with 4:22 left to tie Bishop Sankey’s school record with 37 career touchdown runs.
“Now we’re going to find out who rallies and who will roll over and die,” quarterback Jake Browning said. “Personally I think we’re going to rally.”
Stanford: The Cardinal trusted Costello more this week and he delivered with a pair of 39-yard passes to JJ Arcega-Whiteside in the first half for the two longest offensive plays of the season against the Huskies. Those set up a 2-yard TD run by Love and one of Jet Toner’s three field goals. Costello converted six third downs through the air on the night and threw for a career-high 211 yards after having 105 a week ago.
“I put that completely on myself,” Shaw said. “I think we were a little too conservative. We have to mix it up and we mixed it up today.”
Washington: Hosts Utah on Nov. 18.
Stanford: Hosts California on Nov. 18.
Barriere, McPherson carry E Washington past North Dakota
FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Eric Barriere threw for a touchdown and ran for another in his first start, Sam McPherson rushed for 118 yards while throwing for one score and catching a TD pass and Eastern Washington topped North Dakota 21-14 on Saturday.
Barriere, filling in for suspended starter Gage Gubrud, connected with McPherson for a 14-yard touchdown in the second quarter and scored on a 1-yard sneak on the final play of the first half to give the Eagles a 21-7 lead.
McPherson tied the game at 7 for the Eagles (6-4, 5-2 Big Sky Conference) when he pulled up and tossed a 2-yard pass to Talolo Limu-Jones.
The Fighting Hawks (3-8, 2-6), who opened the scoring on Kelly Studsrud’s 7-yard run, pulled within a score on Koah Wanzek’s 2-yard pass to Studsrud with 4:37 to go. The defense forced a quick three-and-out but Jordan Dascalo boomed a 67-yard punt to the North Dakota 3. After a quick first down, the Eagle defense forced two incompletions and had a sack to seal the win between the two teams that tied for the title last year with 8-0 records.
Barriere completed 13 of 23 passes for 130 yards and ran for 55 more. Studsrud threw for 261 yards but was picked off once.