The Washington State Cougars had a rough start to their 2012 season when they traveled to Provo, Utah, to take on the BYU Cougars in Mike Leach‘s inaugural game as head coach. The game was a disaster for WSU, who failed to score a touchdown in the 30-6 loss. Looking to avoid a similar start to 2013, WSU has backed out of the rematch set for next season in Pullman.
Washington State’s trip to Utah to start this season was the first game in what was supposed to be a home-and-home series culminating in 2013 with BYU heading to the Palouse.
BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall confirmed to the Deseret News that it was Washington State who called off the game. “They chose to not want the game,” the coach said, adding “I don’t know if we go back there or not,” when asked if BYU would eventually play a game in Pullman.
BYU replaces the trip to face WSU with a home-and-home series against the Virginia Cavaliers. Mendenhall confirmed that his Cougars would open the season at Virginia and that “Virginia was a result of Washington State wanting out of the contract.”
In the game August 30, BYU dominated Washington State in most every phase of the game. Mendenhall’s defense swarmed Jeff Tuel and manhandled the offensive line while their offense was able to shut it down early in the second half.
The Washington State team, meanwhile, looked flustered, confused and lost for most of the night. Many of the team adopted some very poor body language in the second half, which Mike Leach called “moping” and was a focal point of the coaching staff the rest of the season (to varying degrees of success).
The move appears to be an attempt by Washington State to get an easier non-conference opponent into Martin Stadium to start next season. With a disappointing 2012 campaign to build off of, the team will want to start 2013 on a positive note and they may not be convinced they’ll be able to do that against a stout BYU squad.
The loss in Provo was just the second time a Leach-led offense didn’t find the endzone, and it hasn’t gotten much better for the Cougars since. The WSU offense has been held without a touchdown in three games this season, including the BYU game, and is 0-6 in Pac 12 play and just 2-7 overall.