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Saturday, September 15, 2012
Final: Washington State 35, UNLV 27

By Ted Miller



Was Washington State's 35-27 victory over UNLV on Friday night pretty? No.

Did it suggest the Cougars are ready to compete in the Pac-12? No.

But is this program, even with fancy new coach Mike Leach, in any position to gripe about a road victory over an FBS team? Not yet, particularly with its backup quarterback getting the start.

The Rebels aren't good. In fact, they likely are among the worst teams playing FBS football, whose 0-3 start includes a loss to FCS squad Northern Arizona last weekend.

Another stupid personal foul from safety Deone Bucannon -- Deone, open your darn eyes before you blast a defenseless guy who DOESN'T HAVE THE FOOTBALL -- helped the Rebels make things fairly interesting with a late touchdown, but the Cougs held on to improve to 2-1.

Bucannon, one of Washington State's best defensive players, was forced to sit out the first half due to a Pac-12 suspension for a similar cheap shot in the previous game, against Eastern Washington.

So the Cougars head into the Pac-12 schedule needing four wins to earn bowl eligibility.

The good news is quarterback Connor Halliday stepped in for injured starter Jeff Tuel and passed for 378 yards and four touchdowns. The bad news is he also tossed a pair of interceptions and missed a number of throws, completing just 26 of 44 passes.

The good news is the Cougars defense allowed only seven points in the second half. The bad news is it also surrendered 466 yards, more than the UNLV defense did.

And the Cougs also only scored seven points in the second half.

Leach's Air Raid offense has yet to take flight, and the ... whatever-it's-called defense doesn't look ready for Pac-12 offenses.

But the Cougs are 2-1. That's a solid start that leaves open plenty of possibilities for the season.