TUCSON, Ariz. — Like USC and California before them, the Arizona Wildcats fell in front of their home crowd to a Washington State team that has had more success on the road than in Pullman this season. The last time the Cougars won multiple conference road games was in 2006, when they beat Stanford, Oregon State and UCLA at their respective stadiums.
That year’s team picked up a Pac-10 win at home, however, beating Oregon, 34-23. The Cougars must defeat Utah next weekend to give their hometown fans a Pac-12 victory.
The Cougars maintain that the connections forged through their shared underdog status are what give them the thick skin necessary to win away from home.
“The only people that believe in us is us. So you don’t care about the fans, you don’t really care about the media unless you’re playing at home,” linebacker Darryl Monroe said. “So when we come here, it feels like home. So wherever we go, it feels like home. We’re used to the boos, we love (them).”
Never is that bond more apparent than after a win, when the players have validated their belief in themselves and can celebrate.
“When we walk into the locker room and everyone’s happy, everyone’s shaking your hand and giving you hugs all around — that’s what you play for,” safety Deone Bucannon said. “You play for the guy next to you and do everything you can for the guy next to you.”
GRIFFEY MAKES FIRST START FOR WILDCATS
WSU football fans who follow the Seattle Mariners might have felt a pang of nostalgia during Saturday’s game. Suiting up for the Wildcats was none other than Trey Griffey, the son of former Seattle baseball superstar Ken Griffey Jr.
The redshirt freshman wide receiver was born in Seattle and spent his early childhood in the Pacific Northwest. Earlier this year, he told reporters that one of his fondest memories of that time is playing in the rain and pouring salt on snails.
There’s more tying Griffey to the Cougars than just the location of his dad’s former team. He and WSU wide receiver Isiah Myers — who scored the winning touchdown Saturday — grew up together in Orlando, Fla.
“We played Pop Warner since age 9 together,” Myers said. “It was against each other, and then we played together. His family helped me out a lot, and we eventually separated in high school, but we still kept in contact.”
Griffey made the first start of his collegiate career against the Cougars. The Kid’s kid finished with four receptions for 45 yards.
REUNITED AT LAST
Because of scheduling issues that resulted when the Pac-10 added Utah and Colorado to become the Pac-12, Saturday’s game was the first matchup between the Wildcats and Cougars since 2010. WSU hadn’t played in Tucson since 2009.
With the win, WSU improved its all-time series record to 14-25 and ended a five-game losing streak to the Wildcats.
WSU’s last win in the series was in 2004, when Jason Hill caught two fourth-quarter touchdown passes from Josh Swogger to knock off the Wildcats, 20-19, in Tucson.