The Washington State Cougars rose to the occasion for the second year in a row on Senior Night by defeating the Utah Utes 49-37.

The offensive line held strong against a Utah front seven that led the nation in total sacks (36) before the game. After the game, the number stayed the same and the Cougs protected quarterback Connor Halliday the entire time.

“We try to look at it as any other team, try to focus on ourselves. In the back of your mind they’re leading the nation in sacks,” senior offensive lineman Elliott Bosch said. “We went out, they gave us problems at times, but when they did Connor got rid of the ball. We try to focus on our job and not worry about them.”

As for Halliday, this is the first game all season he has not thrown an interception. He was 39-62 through the air and threw for 488 yards and four touchdowns.

“I’ve done a pretty good job of getting the ball out this year. I have a quick release and when I know where I’m going with the ball it gets out. The O-Line has been playing unbelievable,” Halliday said.

Defensively, the Cougs were able to make sophomore quarterback Adam Schulz uncomfortable in the Utah pocket. Both Casey Locker and Damante Horton intercepted Schulz and returned for six points. Senior safety Deone Bucannon ended the game with six tackles. After the win today, WSU is bowl eligible for the first time since 2006. The last bowl game they went to was in 2003.

“Feels good, no special feeling other than proud of our guys and how they played. It’s a byproduct of making the most of your individual plays and people doing their job together,” Coach Mike Leach said. “As we get better and more mature as a team, we’re better at doing our job from one play to the next.”

Washington State takes on the University of Washington on Black Friday at Husky Stadium starting at 12:30 p.m. to end the regular season.