By Nicholas K. Geranios Associated Press
SPOKANE — The 19 Washington State seniors who will be playing their final home game this Saturday have been through some rough times on the football field.
The team’s record during their four seasons is just 14-32, and numerous losses have been blowouts.
But this year’s seniors are enjoying a season in which the Cougars (5-5, 3-4 Pac-12) are one victory away from qualifying for a bowl game. They host Utah (4-6, 1-6), on Saturday in Pullman.
That has some seniors waxing nostalgic.
“I spent a lot of Saturdays out there,” center Elliott Bosch said this week of Martin Stadium. “This will be kind of a weird step in my life.”
He would like his class to be remembered for restoring Washington State to winning football after years of losing seasons.
“We’re taking a lot of pride in being hopefully the class that gets this thing rolling,” Bosch said.
Senior safety Deone Bucannon said the end of his college career is “something I don’t want to happen.”
“But at the same time it is going to happen,” said Bucannon.
“I love this school so much and playing with my teammates,” he said. “It’s like yesterday I was a freshman and playing my first game against USC in Martin Stadium.”
Linebacker Justin Sagote said he definitely wants to finish his Pullman playing career with a win.
“We will treat this as just another game, but we want to get this last win,” he said.
All three of the Cougars’ Pac-12 victories this season have been on the road. They have lost their three conference home games, including the annual game in Seattle.
Head coach Mike Leach is only in his second season in Pullman, but said this senior class has done a good job.
They are “instrumental for building the foundation of what we have going, which is going to improve as we go throughout the future,” Leach said. “But they were very key in helping lift this off and we’re very excited to have the opportunity to play a couple more games with them.”
Leach said he allowed himself only a few hours to savor last weekend’s 24-17 victory over Arizona before turning his attention to Utah.
The win gave the Cougars five wins for the first time since the 2007 season, and three conference road wins for the first time since 2006.
The Cougars have not played in a bowl game since 2003, which was also their last winning season.
They are slightly favored over Utah, whose only Pac-12 win this season is over No. 10 Stanford.
Last season, Utah crushed the Cougars 49-6 in a game where Leach said afterward that his team’s performance resembled a zombie convention. He also said the play of his offensive and defensive lines “bordered on cowardice.”