- Kyle Bonagura, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Cougars reached a bowl game for the first time since 2003 despite the Pac-12 featuring more top-to-bottom depth than at any point in the past decade.
In coach Mike Leach's second season, WSU won as many conference games (four) as it did under his predecessor, Paul Wulff, in four seasons from 2008 to 2011.
That's what should be remembered, not the meltdown at the end of the Gildan New Mexico Bowl.
Moving forward, WSU has a lot to be excited about. All 10 players who had at least 25 catches this season will return next year. That's a lot of returning weapons for quarterback Connor Halliday in his senior season.
Offensive MVP: Halliday set the school single-season record passing record with 4,597 yards. He went to sleep three times as the Pac-12 single-season record holder, too, before Oregon State's Sean Mannion eclipsed his total in the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl. Halliday's 34 touchdown passes tied Ryan Leaf for the single-season school record.
Defensive MVP: Safety Deone Bucannon led the Pac-12 with 109 tackles during the regular season and was the first WSU player since 2007 to receive first-team All-Pac-12 honors. The hard-hitting safety led WSU with five interceptions, a total that was tied for fourth-best in the conference.
Best moment: The game-winning touchdown pass from Halliday to Isiah Myers against Arizona. It would be easy to pick the victory at then-No. 25 USC, but that was early in the season and Halliday's pass to Myers delivered a victory in what basically amounted to a win-or-no-bowl situation. A week later, Arizona beat Oregon on the same field.
Worst moment: The final 2 minutes, 52 seconds of the New Mexico Bowl. The Cougars had a 45-30 lead before Colorado State scored 18 points in the game's final 172 seconds to pull off a remarkable comeback. For WSU, it will be remembered as a mind-boggling collapse made possible by a pair of fumbles and questionable clock management.