The Bobcats started the 2017 season against a strong opponent, Washington State University. The WSU Cougars are ranked 24th in the FBS standings and went 8-5 in 2016. The two teams last matched up in 2011 with WSU winning 23-22. The game was highly anticipated on both sides, with a lot riding on the head coach of WSU, Mike Leach. WSU has lost to Big Sky teams the past two years, Portland State in 2015 and Eastern Washington in 2016. The Bobcats, unfortunately, didn’t continue this trend, losing 31-0. However, Bobcat fans should remain optimistic.
Sophomore quarterback Chris Murray went 5-12 with 28 passing yards, 55 rushing yards and an interception. The unavailable ground game was predicted beforehand due to Washington State’s dominant defensive line. Even so, freshman running back Troy Andersen showed an optimistic outlook for the Bobcats in the backfield with 33 yards and nine carries. Sophomore transfer Edward Vander had 23 rushing yards. The Bobcats went to the air for yards and top receiver senior Mitch Herbert led with 28.
Defensively, MSU showed a strong performance. In the first half, senior Khari Garcia forced a fumble and gave the Bobcats possession in Cougar territory. Sophomore Damien Washington also forced a fumble, and freshman Chase Benson and senior Mac Bignell both recorded sacks. Overall, senior Bryson McCabe led MSU with 13 tackles alongside junior Brayden Konkol with 11.
The Bobcats have another tough opponent this week for the annual Gold Rush game, where they will play the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. SDSU has five consecutive playoff appearances and many key players returning this season. The game will be at Bobcat Stadium on Sept. 9 at 6:00 pm.