Pandemonium in Pullman: No. 16 Cougars beat No. 5 USC for huge upset

It marked WSU’s first regular-season win against a top-five team in 25 years, and it could vault the Cougars into the top-10 when the next set of rankings are released Sunday.

PULLMAN — Six years into the Mike Leach’s tenure at Washington State, the Cougars have their marquee win.

In Pullman on a Friday night game broadcast nationally on ESPN, the 16th-ranked Cougars pulled off the upset of a generation, stunning No. 5 USC 30-27 to snap the Trojans’ 13-0, yearlong winning streak.

It marked WSU’s first regular-season win against a top-five team in 25 years, and it could vault the Cougars into the top-10 when the next set of rankings are released Sunday.

The win gave Luke Falk his first victory over USC in his career. It’s memorable when you consider that Falk became WSU’s starting quarterback the last time USC visited Martin Stadium in 2014, when Conner Halliday suffered a broken leg in the first quarter against the Trojans, and Falk became the Cougars’ quarterback.

On Friday night, Falk outdueled Heisman Trophy candidate Sam Darnold, completing 34 of 51 passes for 340 yards and two touchdowns.

Darnold meanwhile was a pedestrian 15 of 29 for a season-low 164 yards, and did not throw any touchdowns though he ran for two.

The game was evenly played from start to finish, with six lead changes.

But what stood out was WSU’s defense, which harassed Darnold and the Trojans throughout the night, despite losing middle linebacker Isaac Dotson in the first quarter to an unspecified leg injury.

In his second career start, freshman linebacker Jahad Woods came up with the biggest play of the game when he sacked Darnold on second-and-10 from the USC 24 with a little over a minute remaining to force a fumble that WSU recovered.

Down 27-20 with about 6:30 left in the fourth quarter, USC appeared to be fighting a losing battle against a resilient Cougars defense that had held quarterback Sam Darnold to 100 passing yards to that point.

But on…

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