Forever Evergreen: UW Football and WSU Football Impress in Week One

Evergreen State Football Flexes Their Strength

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. In the state of Washington, the UW football and WSU football teams got off to hot starts, offenses clicking in blowout wins against Eastern Washington and New Mexico State. Overall, Washington and Washington State outscored their opponents 105-21. It was an excellent start to the season for Evergreen State Football fans and teams alike. With each game in the books, here are the big takeaways.

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Quarterbacks Jacob Eason and Anthony Gordon Set the Field Ablaze

Wow. Could it have played out any better for Eason and Gordon in their openers? Washington State Football quarterbacks are the best of the bunch (minus Justin Herbert obviously).

Jacob Eason

Eason, in his debut, set the record for the most passing yards in a UW football debut with 349 yards. His 4 touchdowns were also the most in a UW opener since Brock Huard in 1998. He led the Huskies to touchdowns on their first three drives and opened a 21-0 lead. As a former number one recruit, Eason lived up to the hype and put all the other Jake quarterbacks to shame.

Additionally, Eason displayed both arm-strength and touch. Though players and beat reporters talked up his arm strength over spring and summer, it was nice to see how it played out in a game. He made 50-plus yard throws look easy. And while his 50-yard touchdown to Andre Baccellia was impressive, it was not nearly as impressive as his incomplete pass to Aaron Fuller. After an awkward snap, Eason somehow managed to heave a 60-yard bomb to Fuller. Though it sailed over his intended receiver (possibly due to Fuller slowing down), it nonetheless displayed quick decision-making and natural arm-strength. All in all, Eason looked good. 

Anthony Gordon

Not to be outdone by his Puget Sound rival, Anthony Gordon made things look easy. In less than three quarters, Gordon lit up New Mexico State for 420 yards and 5 touchdowns. Yes, the Mike Leach Air Raid Offense makes the quarterback’s job easier, but not that easy. In fact, Gordon ended the first half with an insane line: 22 for 23, 330 yards and 4 touchdowns. Unbelievable.

In his impressive victory, Gordon completed passes to 9 different receivers and threw touchdowns to 4 different ones. He spread the ball around well. Gordon was decisive, precise, and carved through New Mexico State. He led the Cougars to a touchdown on each of their five, first half drives. Though he’s a redshirt senior without any Pac-12 experience prior to this game, he let his name be known. Anthony Gordon and Mike Leach made their case for the Pac-12’s best offense.

Other Offensive Highlights

UW Seniors Lead the Team in Receiving

Seniors Hunter Bryant (TE), Andre Baccellia (WR), Aaron Fuller (WR) and Chico McClatcher (WR) led the team in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. It was a senior day all the way. Each notched at least five receptions from Jacob Eason. It appears that Eason and coach Peterson are completely fine with riding the talent and experience of their senior playmakers in the pass game.

UW and WSU Have Breakout Running Backs

Richard Newton came out of nowhere. On his first collegiate touch, Newton took it 23 yards to the end zone. He continued his redshirt freshman debut and totaled 91 yards on 12 carries. At 6-foot, 210lbs, Newton was difficult to tackle and displayed excellent rushing instincts and power.

Max Borghi of WSU displayed efficiency and explosiveness. On just 10 carries, Borghi broke the century mark with 128 rushing yards. As many already know, Borghi showed an ability to catch passes last season. With his impressive opener as the leading rusher, Borghi looks to be the Pac-12’s leader in yards from scrimmage at the end of the season.

Will these Evergreen State Football running backs be the best in the Pac-12?

Defenses Bend, But Don’t Break with the New Guys

Though the scoreboard would deceive most, there was a lot that UW football and WSU football could have done better. 

UW allowed 274 yards and two touchdowns. Additionally, they let the Eagles march down the field with 79 and 84 back-to-back drives. With that being said, Chris Peterson rotated in a variety of redshirt and true freshmen on defense. Cam Williams, Laiatu Latu, Alphonzo Tuputala, Trent McDuffie, Asa Turner, Jackson Sirmon, M.J. Tafisi, Tuli Letuligasenoa, Sam Taimani, Faatui Tuitele, Jacob Bandes, Noa Ngalu all got snaps. So obviously there is room for growth. Additionally, the Dawgs notched 4 sacks, 9 tackles for a loss, and 1 safety. They also allowed just 2.1 yards per carry to the Eagles. All in all, it was a promising day for Chris Peterson’s defense. It looks like Peterson has once again recruited and schemed a top defense for the Huskies.

WSU on the other hand, looked both shaky and solid. Yes, they held New Mexico State to just one touchdown. However, they gave up the touchdown just after Anthony Gordon marched WSU down the field. They let New Mexico tie the game 7-7 right away. Additionally the Cougars’ defense allowed nearly 200 yards in the first half. Their defensive line was pushed around more than the scoreboard showed. But, WSU did an excellent job making adjustments in the second half and continuing their dominance. Overall, WSU’s defensive line is the most suspect. They need to find quality players that can penetrate and make consistent, defensive stops.

Justin Herbert Auburn Oregon
Justin Herbert and the Ducks weren’t so fortunate against Auburn ( Photo by Matthew Emmons / USA Today )

The Rest of the Bunch

Apart from Utah, Washington and Washington State had the best weekends. It was a very good week for Evergreen State football fans. Unlike them, Oregon had a rough time. After leading by 15 in the third quarter, buckled to Auburn. They lost the biggest Pac-12 game of the week (and possibly the season). This extended the Pac-12’s losing streak to 10 against ranked, SEC opponents. As much as it helps Washington and Washington State in their Pac-12 rankings, Oregon’s loss hurts the Pac-12 conference overall. 

Overall, the Pac-12 went 1-2 against Power Five teams, 5-2 against Group of Five (including independent BYU and New Mexico State) teams and 2-0 against FCS teams. Not inspiring. If the Pac-12 wants to be taken seriously as a conference, teams need to win every out of conference game. It obviously doesn’t help when Oregon collapses late to Auburn. But UCLA, Oregon State, USC and Cal looked like they kept last season’s issues. They were lackluster. Additionally, USC lost their quarterback to a knee injury. J.T. Daniels had to be carted off. Pac-12 teams needed to step up this season, and many teams aren’t.

As the dust settles from Week 1 of the Pac-12, Evergreen State Football appears primed for the top-spot. Stanford’s schedule is too difficult. USC has a difficult schedule, displayed poor play/judgement and lost their quarterback. Colorado needs a defense. Cal needs an offense. Oregon lost when it counted most. 

It’s a year for the Evergreen State to claim the top spots. Though, Utah was impressive and Oregon could bounce back. If Oregon proves to be just shy of elite, Utah and WSU can each attempt to leap UW this season.

College Football: Why Are Ratings and Attendance Numbers Down?

College Football Attendance

Attendance and Ratings

In the 2017-2018 season, college football experienced its most significant decrease in game attendance that it has seen in more than thirty years.  The 129 Football Bowl Subdivision schools experienced an attendance decrease of 1,409 fans per game from 2016.[i]  In 2017 FBS schools’ average attendance was 42,203 fans per game, which is the lowest average since 1997.{ii}

Also, every network experienced a decline in ratings except Fox and FS1 which saw a 23% and 4% increase respectively.[iii] CBS saw a 10% decrease in ratings, ABC saw an 18% decrease, NBC saw a 3% decrease, and ESPN saw a 6% decrease.[iv] College football is not alone as the NFL also suffered a decline in ratings (though total viewership was up).  Many blame the NFL’s decrease on the protest during the national anthem, but it was not.  However there is no such protest in college football, so why is college football experiencing a downward trend in game attendance and in television ratings?  

What Caused The Decline?

Could it be Millennials and their lack of interest in paying exorbitant prices to attend a four-hour game?  Tickets to college football games are entirely too high.  Regular season single-game tickets can range from as low as $90 to upwards of $500. Tickets to bowl games and college football playoff games can cost over one thousand dollars.  On top of that, parking can add another $30 to $50. Those prices are steep, especially for recent college graduates who are facing student loan debt.

Could it be the lack of competitive non-conference home games? In addition to high ticket prices, highly competitive games are infrequent and inconsistent. The lack of quality non-conference games by Power 5 conferences is going to be the slow death to attendance and tv ratings. The amount of competitive non-conference schedules has declined as Power 5 football programs have focused on wins and fewer losses instead of quality wins. More wins, despite the quality, equates to high rankings for bids to bowl games and to clench college playoff berths.  Schools have attempted to pull the wool over fans’ eyes by scheduling a big neutral site game pretending to make the entire schedule better. Many teams, particularly SEC teams play one respectable non-conference game and three non-competitive games. Who wants to show up to watch that?  Win or lose, fans will more frequently show up to see an exciting matchup against a quality opponent rather than a game they are assured to win by 30+ points.

Or could the decline be due to the allure of streaming a game on a smartphone while attending a tailgate, indulging in great food and booze? Millennials who make up the greater portion of recent college graduates opt out of purchasing tickets to attend live games and watch the games in the comfort of their homes, at a bar with friends, or at tailgates with booze and better food than the overpriced fair sold at stadium concession stands.  Many fans contend that watching the games elsewhere is not only less expensive, but are also more relaxing and in some ways more enjoyable.

The reason college football is experiencing a decrease in game attendance and ratings is simple; it is a combination of all of the aforementioned factors. Will college football see another decrease in game attendance and viewership for the 2018-2019 season?  This remains to be seen, but colleges will most certainly be headed in that direction if they do not address these issues and provide fans with a competitive, fun, and unique experience.  This leads to the question of how can colleges fix these problems and provide fans with a competitive, fun, and unique experience that will increase attendance at college football games in this fast-paced technologically driven society where people have extremely short attention spans?

The Fix

First, colleges need to increase the number of competitive non-conference home games. Scheduling a neutral site game does not negate the rest of a terrible non-conference schedule. Fans are consumers and must be given a quality product. The quality of the college football product suffers from blowout non-conference home games against Nobody State that fans may leave at halftime. Scheduling competitive non-conference home games will keep up the excitement throughout the entire season, which will help to re-invigorate the fan base.  For example, if Oregon, Alabama, Florida, and all other Power 5 schools scheduled “home-and-home” games that alternated on each other’s home field both fan bases would be excited and energized. The opportunity to see both teams play a highly competitive game that each fan base is unable to see during regular conference play would drive attendance.

Second, colleges should strive to find ways to bring elements of the tailgating experience into the stadium.  One step that some colleges have already taken and that more may want to consider is the selling of alcohol at games.  Another step would be to make the food at the concessions a better bang for the buck by increasing food options and quality. A couple of NFL teams, namely the Atlanta Falcons and the Baltimore Ravens, have offered cheaper and more fan-friendly menus that have already yielded positive results.  Colleges should heed the Falcons and Ravens examples and follow suit.

Third, colleges should work to help the three-hour+ game time pass by more quickly by increasing fan engagement by providing fans with a unique experience that cannot be had elsewhere.  Colleges may seek to do this through the use of an interactive app that would allow fans to interact with the game from the stands.  Doing this may make Millennials and other fans feel differently about the cost of tickets and become more willing to pay to attend a game to participate in a unique experience that they cannot get at a bar or at a tailgate. This may also re-invigorate student interest in attending games as student attendance has steadily declined.

If colleges begin to do these things, they would be able to market attending football games as an experience that cannot be had by consuming the game in any other way. In doing so colleges will also increase fan interest in viewing the games. Colleges need to act now to re-invigorate fan interest in attending college football games while there are still some fans who are willing to pay to attend.

[i] Dennis Dodd, College Football Heads in the Wrong Direction with Largest Attendance Drop in 34 Years, CBS Sports (Feb. 13, 2018),

[ii]  Id.

[iii] George Wrighster, Congratulations Fans and College Football Committee:  Ratings are DOWN, Unafraid Show, ( Dec. 12, 2017),

[iv]  Id.