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Tops in T.O.P.

November 15, 2018

You would think all that passing would hurt Washington State’s defense. Running the ball is supposed to be the way to keep it away from the other team, at least according to traditional thinking.

You would be wrong.

The most pass-happy team in the land leads the Pac-12 in time of possession, at 32 minutes 46 seconds per game. The Cougars have lost the time-of-possession battle only three times this season: vs. Utah, Oregon State and Cal.

The games against the Utes and Golden Bears were two of WSU’s narrowest escapes. The game against Utah was extreme even by Leach’s standards: The Cougars ran the ball only 13 times for a net of zero yards.

Last week against Colorado, Washington State possessed the ball for 41:46. The Cougars ran 94 plays to the Buffaloes’ 54 in a 31-7 victory.

Washington State converted 11 of 20 third downs, compared to Colorado’s 2 of 11. Third-down efficiency is one of the reasons WSU is able to play keep-away so well.

The Cougars rank fourth in the Pac-12 in third-down percentage (44.2). They’re second in fourth-down percentage (69.6).

Most important, they’re first in completion percentage (69.5). Which brings us to the pilot of this particular Air Raid attack.

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