PULLMAN - Washington State middle linebacker C.J. Mizell thinks last week's "miracle" comeback against Montana State involved some divine intervention.
Mizell said his prayers were answered – literally – when he hauled in an interception and ran it back 62 yards with barely a minute remaining to preserve a 23-22 win. WSU trailed by 15 after three quarters.
“Right before I went out (prior to his interception), I prayed to the Lord,” Mizell said. “I was like, ‘Please let me get a pick,’ and he put it in my hands.”
Mizell, a true freshman from Tallahassee, Fla., said he had never intercepted a pass in his life.
“I tried my best to take it to the house,” said Mizell, who was clearly running out of gas before he got shoved out of bounds.
Mizell signed a letter of intent with Florida State last year as Scout.com’s No. 5 outside linebacker prospect. He failed to qualify academically, sat out 2009, then wound up at WSU after a visit to Pullman.
Coaches say Mizell’s work ethic, iffy earlier in the fall, has improved. They rave about Mizell’s potential but say he must improve his pass coverage.
The Cougars wrap up their nonconference schedule with a trip Saturday to Dallas to face 22-point favorite Southern Methodist on national television (12:30 p.m., CBS College Sports). WSU opens Pacific-10 Conference play next week at home against No. 18 USC (2-0).
Washington State and SMU are 1-1. Last year, the Cougars rallied to beat Southern Methodist, 30-27 in overtime in Pullman. It was WSU’s only victory, while the Mustangs rebounded to earn their first bowl invitation since 1984.
SMU coach June Jones is a master of the run-and-shoot offense, which relies on short passes to multiple receivers. Sophomore quarterback Kyle Padron has been spotty, so the Mustangs have turned to rugged sophomore running back Zach Line (28 carries, 194 yards).
Sophomore outside linebacker Ja’Gared Davis leads Conference USA with 4.5 tackles for losses and is second in sacks with 2.5.
Starting defensive end Margus Hunt, an Estonia native who played in his first football game last year, is already tied for ninth in NCAA history with eight career blocked field goals or extra points. The 6-foot-8, 272-pounder blocked seven kicks last year, a one-season total that is tied for second in NCAA history.