PHOTO: USA Today Sports
The bowl season kicked off with a bang on Saturday as Washington State blew a big lead against Colorado State in the New Mexico Bowl. The way this game started, we probably should have expected a crazy finish. In the opening minutes we saw an interception, a fumble, a touchdown pass and a blocked punt. That was in the first four minutes of the game, but it was nothing like the finish.
Washington State took a 7-0 lead with 12:32 left in the first quarter and they led throughout the game. In the fourth quarter, Wazzu scored with 9:35 left to take a 15 point lead. Colorado State QB Garrett Grayson threw a 12 yard TD pass to Jordon Varden to pull to within 8 and that's when things went sideways.
The Cougars had a 1st and 10 on their own 31 with time running down on the clock and the Rams with no timeouts left. All the Cougars had to do was run out the clock and they would leave with a victory. Washington State QB Connor Halliday fumbled on a QB keeper but the play was reversed by instant replay and Wazzu appeared to have dodged a bullet. On the very next play, Jeremiah Laufasa fumbled and the Rams recovered giving them life with 1:51 left in the game.
Behind RB Kapri Bibbs, the Rams went 33 yards on eight plays and then converted a statue of liberty run to the right with Donnell Alexander diving into the corner of the end zone (the two-point conversion was originally called out of bounds on the field but it was reversed on instant replay). The Rams had made an unthinkable comeback and tied the Cougars and overtime was inevitable.
But, the Cougars collapse wasn't done yet. On the kickoff return, Wazzu's Teondray Caldwell fumbled and the Rams again recovered. That would be the third straight play where Wazzu fumbled (with one of them being reversed by instant replay). Colorado State ran one play to run down some clock and then clocked a 41 yard FG to make an unthinkable comeback and win the New Mexico Bowl.
For Washington State, this is a debacle. They had the game won multiple times but basically gave the game away due to the ineptitude of their on the field play and their coaching at the end of the game. For Colorado State, this could be a landmark victory for second-year coach Jim McElwain and the Rams. Bowl season is underway but it's unlikely any game will match the bizarre finish to this game.