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Analysis | Three impressions from No. 19 WSU’s 33-25 win over Utah

The Cougars held on to beat Utah 33-25 in a game that – surprisingly- didn’t always feel as tight as the score might imply. Here’s what to make of WSU’s win

SALT LAKE CITY — I saw it on Twitter first.

As Washington State maddeningly let touchdown opportunity after touchdown opportunity turn into one Erik Powell field goal after another, Coug fans on Twitter started postulating whether this game would end up following the same tired script of WSU games they’ve seen over the years.

You know what I’m talking about. We shall not refer to the phrase by name because you guys will blow up my inbox, but you know there’s a term for what happens what the Cougs somehow let a lead piddle away and wrestle defeat from the jaws of victory.

This time however, they flipped the script.

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WSU held on to beat Utah 33-25 at Rice-Eccles Stadium Saturday night. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it was a win. And an important one at that.

With the win and UW’s defeat to Stanford Friday night, WSU is now the only Pac-12 North team that controls its own destiny. For UW to clinch the division, it needs to win out and then root for Cal to beat Stanford. For Stanford to clinch the division, it needs to beat Cal and then root for UW to trump WSU in the Apple Cup.

So, if the Cougs can come up with a big Apple Cup win on Nov. 25, they’ll win the Pac-12 North, no prayers for anyone else needed.

This team continues to surprise everyone and to find new ways to chart its own destiny.

Now, here are three impressions from WSU’s victory over Utah.

1 – Say it with me: “The defense is the backbone of this team”

It seems weird to say that about a Mike Leach-led team with its Air Raid offense, but Alex Grinch’s Speed D has become the backbone of this 2017 WSU squad.

So many times this season, we’ve seen the offense struggle in some way, and on many occasions save two — Arizona and…

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