PULLMAN, WASHINGTON (Tucson News Now) - Cold weather and a red hot Washington State offense doomed Arizona in a Pac-12 game at Martin Stadium Saturday night.
The Cougars (10-1, 7-1 Pac-12) have the nation’s best passing attack and the Wildcats had no answers.
Quarterback Gardner Minshew shredded Arizona’s defense early and often as Washington State won 69-28. Minshew had 473 yards and seven touchdowns on 43-of-55 passing.
While the Wildcats defense was helpless, their offense and special teams did not fare any better.
The death blow for Arizona was the last 10 minutes of the first half, probably one of the worst quarters in school history.
With 10:43 to go before halftime, Khalil Tate threw a 37-yard touchdown and Arizona cut Washington State’s lead to 28-14.
On the next series, Minshew effortlessly drove the Cougars down the field and made it 34-13 with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Jackson Jr.
On the ensuing kickoff, Cedric Peterson fumbled the ball and Washington State’s Kainoa Wilson recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown.
Peterson fumbled again on the next kickoff. He recovered the ball, but the mistake left the Wildcats with terrible field position.
The drive went backwards and Arizona was forced to punt from its own 6-yard line, thanks to incomplete passes and a sack of Tate.
The Cougars took full advantage and it took less than 120 seconds for Minshew to get his fourth touchdown pass of the game.
Down 48-14, Tate led Arizona down the field with a 11-play, 74-yard drive. But Gary Brightwell fumbled the ball in the end zone and Washington State got the ball on the touch back.
There was only 21 seconds left on the clock, but that was more than enough for Minshew.
He completed a 30-yard pass to Max Borghi before hitting Davontavean Martin with a 50-yard touchdown strike for a 55-14 lead.
Arizona (5-6, 4-4) has struggled this season, but the Wildcats still have Tate at quarterback.
Tate finished the night with 294 yards passing and four touchdowns.
Shawn Poindexter caught two more two touchdowns for UA. Devaughn Cooper had his best receiving game in a Wildcat uniform with three catches for 97 yards.
The Wildcats now must win next Saturday against rival Arizona State in the Territorial Cup game to get a sixth win and become bowl eligible while Washington State has a lot more on the line.
The Cougars have a real shot at making the College Football Playoffs. Washington State is No. 8 in the CFP rankings and plays its Apple Cup rivalry game this Friday against No. 17 Washington.
If the Cougars beat the Huskies they will clinch the Pac-12 North title and earn a spot in the conference championship game.
Utah won the Pac-12 South Division on Saturday by virtue of their victory in the snow at Colorado and Arizona State’s loss on the road at Oregon.
A win in the conference championship game combined with losses by Michigan, Georgia, Oklahoma or LSU may send the Cougars to the playoffs.