No. 8 Cougars travel to face Cal Friday night - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather

No. 8 Cougars travel to face Cal Friday night

WSU will play their 2nd Friday night game this season. Photo: WSU Athletics WSU will play their 2nd Friday night game this season. Photo: WSU Athletics
By Washington State Athletics
7:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 13  •  ESPN
California Memorial Stadium (62,467)  •  Berkeley, Calif.

Eighth-ranked Washington State (6-0, 3-0 Pac-12) heads to the Bay area to face California (3-3, 0-3 Pac-12) for a Friday night contest in Berkeley, Calif. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on ESPN.

California leads the all-time series 46-27-5 with both teams claiming home wins in the last two seasons after Washington State posted a 56-21 victory in Pullman last year. In Berkeley, Cal leads the series 31-13-3 including a 34-28 win in 2015. WSU will be looking for its first back-to-back wins against the Bears since 2001-02. Head coach Mike Leach owns a 3-3 career record against Cal, 2-3 with WSU and 1-0 with Texas Tech after beating an Aaron Rodgers-led Cal team in the 2004 Holiday Bowl.

Washington State is 6-0 for the first time since starting the 2001 season 7-0 and enters the week ranked No. 8 in the Associated Press Top-25, its highest ranking since heading into the 2003 Apple Cup No. 8. WSU owns the nation's third-best passing attack and the country's No. 11 rated defense that has forced 15 turnovers, fifth-most in the country, and recorded 21 sacks, seventh-most in the country. Head coach Mike Leach is his sixth season at WSU, owns a 119-71 mark in his 16-year coaching career including a 35-34 record with the Cougars and is the first coach in school history to lead WSU to three bowl games in his first five seasons.

•  WSU is off to its first 6-0 start since 2001, last started 7-0 in 2001 (10-2 and Sun Bowl win)
•  WSU owns 16 Pac-12 wins in the last three seasons, tied with USC for 2nd-most in the Pac-12 (Stanford-17)
•  WSU has eight players who are from northern California
•  Under head coach Mike Leach, WSU has recorded 10 fourth-quarter comebacks in his 5+ seasons
•  WSU owns wins over Oregon in three straight seasons for the first time since 1982-84
•  WSU is one of three Pac-12 teams with two shutouts in the last five seasons (Stanford, Washington)
•  WSU has scored 3 defensive touchdowns this season, tied for 4th-most in FBS, most by WSU since 2013 (5)
•  WSU owns an 18-3 record when forcing multiple turnovers under defensive coordinator Alex Grinch
•  WSU is sixth in the country and shares Pac-12 lead with 49 (TFL), is tied for 7th in country with 21 sacks,

•  Head Coach Mike Leach owns 35 wins at WSU, fifth-most in program history (Jim Sutherland - 37, 1956-63)
•  Leach was named The Dodd Trophy Coach of the Week following the win over No. 5 USC
•  QB Luke Falk is the NCAA's active career leader in passing yds (12,893), TD (108), yds/g (348.5), total off (12,567)
•  DL Hercules Mata'afa owns 34.5 career TFL's, most among active Pac-12 players, and 16.5 career sacks
•  WR Tavares Martin Jr. is 2nd nationally with a Pac-12-best seven receiving touchdowns
•  RB James Williams is tied for 9th in the country and shares the Pac-12 lead with 41 receptions (all players)
•  K Erik Powell is tied for fourth in WSU history with 43 career field goals, 3rd in FG percentage at 72.8
•  Powell earned his second straight Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week award after hitting 4 FG at Oregon
•  Keith Harrington paces team with seven special teams tackles (5 KR, 2 PR)

Dating back to the beginning of the 2004 season, ESPN's College GameDay has had the WSU flag appear throughout the show. The streak reached 200 after the appearance at TCU last weekend. Two flags – Ol' Crimson and Gray – have been flown in the background of the GameDay set by dozens of friends and alumni. The Gray flag was added in 2014 after Whitey was retired in honor of Steve Gleason's "No White Flags." WSU recognized the GameDay flag wavers in a pregame ceremony prior to the Montana State game in 2010. In addition to the flags that fly, there is a traveling flag signed by the holders after each episode. The traveling flag is retired after each season, the first of which is hanging in WSU's Alumni Center.

Washington State's season-opening five-game homestand is a first in program history. The only other time opening the season with more than three-straight home games was 1907, with four.

Washington State moved up three more spots to No. 8 in the Associated Press Top-25 and No. 9 in the Coaches Poll, the highest WSU ranking since entering the 2003 Apple Cup No. 8 in the AP Poll. The Cougars opened the 2017 season ranked No. 24 in the Associated Press Preseason Top-25, the first time appearing in a preseason poll since 2002 (No. 11).

WSU owns a 6-0 record for the first time since 2001 and just the seventh time in program history (1906, 1915, 1930, 1992, 1997, 2001) and is 3-0 in Pac-12 Conference play for the second straight season. The Cougars have scored 30+ points in six straight games for the first time since the 2001 team started the season with seven straight games scoring 30+ points. Head coach Mike Leach has started 6-0 two other times in his head coaching career, both at Texas Tech, 2005 (6-0) and 2008 (10-0).

Washington State posted a 33-10 victory over Oregon in Eugene last Saturday to claim its third straight meeting against the Ducks for the first time since 1982-84. The Cougars also recorded back-to-back wins in Eugene for the first time since 1982 and 1984. Luke Falk threw for 282 yards and three touchdowns, Erik Powell kicked four field goals (25, 52, 47, 29) while the defense forced three turnovers, recorded 11 tackles-for-loss with four sacks, held Oregon to its lowest point total since 2009 and just 277 yards of total offense after entering the week averaging 537.4 yards-per-game.

Washington State received big plays from all three phases to post a 30-27 win over No. 5 USC in Pullman. It was WSU's first win over a Top-5 team since beating No. 5 Texas in the 2003 Holiday Bowl and first over a Top-5 team in the regular season since beating No. 5 Washington in the 1992 Apple Cup, also in Pullman. WSU saw running back Jamal Morrow rush for 91 yards and score two touchdowns (1 rush, 1 rec) while Luke Falk threw for 340 yards and two touchdowns. The Cougar defense held USC to just 327 yards of total offense, its lowest output since its 2016 opener against Alabama. WSU recorded five tackles-for-loss, picked off Sam Darnold once and forced a fumble off of Jahad Woods' strip-sack to seal up the win. Kicker Erik Powell connected on all three of his field goal attempts (44, 33, 32) with the last coming as the game-winner with 1:40 remaining.

Down 31-10 to Boise State midway through the fourth quarter, Washington State rallied with 21 points in the final eight minutes to send the game into overtime. Redshirt-sophomore quarterback Tyler Hilinski got things going with a 17-yard touchdown strike to freshman Jamire Calvin to make it 31-17. Four plays later, Peyton Pelluer picked off an errant BSU pass and raced 39 yards for the score, cutting the deficit to 31-24. With under three minutes left in regulation, WSU was forced to punt but Erik Powell's punt landed on a Bronco blocker and redshirt-freshman Dillon Sherman jumped on the fumble. Three plays later, Hilinski found Morrow for a six-yard touchdown pass, evening the game at 31. In the third overtime, Hilinski again hit Morrow in the flat and Morrow scampered 22 yards before leaping over the left corner of the end zone for the game-winner. WSU matched the largest fourth-quarter comeback set back in 1984 after WSU trailed 42-21 to start the final period, scored 28 points behind a touchdown run from Mark Rypien, one from Rueben Mayes, a  53-yard scoring pass from Rypien to Mayes and finally a 22-yard touchdown run by Mayes to win 49-42 at Stanford.

Washington State has seen 25 players make their debuts this season. 18 freshmen have made their first career appearance including six true freshmen, Jamire Calvin (WR), George Hicks III (CB), Tay Martin (WR), Zaire Webb (ST), Dominick Silvels (LB) and Will Rodgers III (DL). Four players also recorded their first career starts, Renard Bell (H), Isaiah Johnson-Mack (Z), Fred Mauigoa (C) and Hunter Dale (Nickel), all started the season-opener.

The Washington State Air Raid offense enters the week with the nation's third-best passing attack (392.0), fourth in first downs (25.5/G) and No. 19 in scoring (39.7). The Cougars have scored 30+ points in six straight games for the first time since the 2001 team reached that mark seven times. Last season, WSU finished third in the country in passing offense (362.5) and set a program single-season records for the most touchdowns scored (67) and points (496). The Cougar passing attack led the country in passing in 2015 (389.5) and 2014 (477.7), was fourth in 2013 (368.4) and eighth in 2012 (330.4). WSU has led the Pac-12 in passing in four of the five seasons under head coach Mike Leach, finishing second behind Cal in 2013.

Redshirt-senior Luke Falk entered the 2017 season named to the preseason watch lists for the Maxwell Award (Player of the Year), Davey O'Brien (Top Quarterback), Johnny Unitas Golden Arm (Top QB - senior or 4th year junior) and Walter Camp Player of the Year. Last season, the All-Pac-12 second-team selection was a finalist for the Manning Award, Johnny Unitas, Burlsworth (top walk-on) and was a semifinalist for the Maxwell, Davie O'Brien and Walter Camp Player of the year.

Quarterback Luke Falk opened his redshirt-senior season completing his first 20 passes and going 33-for-39 for 311 yards and three touchdowns against Montana State. His second touchdown pass, a six-yard strike to Tavares Martin Jr. in the second quarter, was his 91st career touchdown pass, breaking Connor Halliday's WSU touchdown passing touchdown record. Against Boise State, Falk passed  Halliday's WSU record for passing yards and Alex Brink's WSU record for total offense. Falk followed with a 6-TD game in the win over Oregon State and 478 yards and five touchdowns against Nevada. He earned Davey O'Brien Quarterback of the Week after throwing for 340 yards and two touchdowns in the win over No. 5 USC and added three more touchdowns in the win at Oregon, passing Marcus Mariota for the second-most passing touchdowns in Pac-12 history. He owns WSU records with 108 career passing TD's, 12,893 career passing yards, 12,567 yards of total offense, 27 career 300-yard games, 1,235 completions and 1,783 pass attempts. With the win over Oregon, Falk tied Jason Gesser for the most wins by a QB in school history with 24. The Logan, Utah native is the nation's active leader in passing yards, passing touchdowns, total offense, second in completion percentage (69.3) while his 348.5 passing yards per game average is currently fifth-best in NCAA FBS history.

12,893 - Owns WSU record for career passing yards, broke Connor Halliday's WSU record Week 1
12,567 - Owns WSU record for total offense, broke Alex Brink's WSU record Week 2
1,235 - Owns Pac-12 record for career completions, broke OSU Sean Mannion's record Week 5
708 - Needs 708 passing yards to break Sean Mannion's (OSU) Pac-12 passing record (13,600)
108 - Owns WSU record for touchdown passes, 2nd-most in Pac-12 history
71.8 - Falk's 71.8 completion percentage in 2017 is 4th-best in the country
69.3 - Falk's career 69.3 completion pct in 2nd among active NCAA QB's (Devin Hodges-Samford, 69.4)
27 - Career 300-yard games, most in WSU history including 11 400-yard efforts
24 - In 34 career starts, Falk owns 24 wins, tying for the most by a Cougar QB (Jason Gesser)
20 - Falk owns 20 career 3-touchdown games
19 - Falk's 19 touchdown passes in 2017 are the most in the country
9 - Needs 9 TD passes to break Matt Barkley's (USC) Pac-12 record of 116
7 - Falk finished his career with 7 wins against Oregon State (4-0) and Oregon (3-0)
6 - Career fourth-quarter comeback wins including one in 2016 at Oregon State

Luke Falk is no stranger to leading fourth-quarter comebacks, recording six in his career. The first came in 2014 at Oregon State, WSU trailed early in the fourth and Falk led a pair of scoring drives for a 39-32 victory. In 2015, trailing by four with 1:31 remaining at Rutgers, Falk led WSU on a 10-play, 90-yard drive capped by an 8-yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds remaining. In the win at Oregon, Falk led a pair of scoring drives late in the fourth quarter to erase a 10-point deficit and threw an eight-yard touchdown pass with one second remaining to force overtime. In overtime, Falk rushed for a touchdown and then threw for another before the defense picked off a pass in the second overtime to clinch the win. Against Arizona State, trailing 24-17 to start the fourth quarter, Falk led WSU on three touchdown drives (73, 99 and 75 yards) in the quarter, capping each with touchdown throws to post a 38-24 victory. His last one in 2015 came at No. 18 UCLA, trailing by three with 1:09 remaining, Falk led the Cougars on a seven-play 75-yard drive, capped by a 21-yard touchdown pass with three seconds remaining. In the win at Oregon State in 2016, WSU trailed by three early in the fourth quarter before Falk led WSU on an 80-yard scoring drive midway through the quarter, capped with a one-yard touchdown pass that proved to be the game-winner. In the fourth-qauarter this season, Falk is a combined 30-of-37 (81.1%) for 272 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions including 10-of-12 for 90 yards and a touchdown against No. 5 USC.

Luke Falk was named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week after going 37-for-49 for 396 yards and tying a school record with six touchdowns in the 52-23 win over Oregon State. It was the fifth career Pac-12 weekly accolade for Falk who is 4-0 in four career starts against OSU. The Logan, Utah native became the first Cougar quarterback to beat a team four times. Falk made his first career start at Oregon State in 2014, throwing for 471 yards and five touchdowns. Against OSU, Falk owns 1,689 passing yards, 22 touchdowns and two interceptions while averaging 422.3 passing yards per game.

Last season, Luke Falk was fourth in the country in passing yards-per-game (343.7) and passing yards (4,468), seventh with 38 passing touchdowns and a Pac-12-best 342.2 yards-per-game in conference play. Falk tied his own WSU single-season record with  38 touchdown passes and finished second behind Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield for the nation's highest completion percentage (.700).

In the win over Arizona last season, Luke Falk completed 32-of-35 passes for 311 yards and four touchdowns. His 91.4 completion percentage was a WSU record and a Pac-12 record for 30+ completions, breaking Dick Norman's (Stanford, 1959) previous record of 87.1. Falk completed 21 consecutive passes at one point, one away from Aaron Rodgers' (Cal) record of 22. The Cougars combined for a 90.3 completion percentage to set an NCAA FBS record for 30+ completions after going 47-of-52. Falk opened 2017 completing his first 20 passes against Montana State.

Redshirt-sophomore quarterback Tyler Hilinski stepped in and came up big for the Cougars in the comeback win over Boise State. Hilinski relieved Luke Falk late in the third quarter and passed for 240 yards with three touchdowns, the last one coming as the game-winner in triple overtime. It was career-bests for Hilinski who played the final series against Montana State (7-9, 50 yds) but had only played extensively in the win over Arizona last season (15-17, 163 yds, 2 TD).

The Cougar running backs have settled into their all-purpose roles and have taken the Air Raid offense to new levels. In the week one win over Montana State, redshirt-sophomore James Williams erupted with 208 all-purpose yards and two scores, catching 13 passes for 163 yards and two scores, setting WSU single-game records for catches and receiving yards for a running