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Southern Utah football: SUU seeks big upset at WSU

Published September 13, 2013 12:03 pm

College football • Washington State a big step up for Thunderbirds.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Cedar City • Already a surprising 2-0 this season, Southern Utah can shock the college football world by making it three straight Saturday at Washington State.

The Cougars play in the Pac-12, of course, and they come off a 10-7 win at USC.

The Thunderbirds own victories over South Alabama (22-21) and Fort Lewis College (49-0), meaning Washington State is easily the best team they have played so far.

"It's a challenge for us in every way," said Southern Utah coach Ed Lamb. "… They have tremendous athletes and their defensive line is one of the best in the West, if not the country."

SUU has played one other Pac-12 team in its history.

Last season, Cal defeated the Thunderbirds, 50-31, after leading only 20-17 heading into the fourth quarter.

"The difference was speed and depth," Lamb recalled. "Our offense and defense played hard for a long time. We were able to move the ball and get stops.

"But they hurt us with their special teams, speed and depth."

Washington State coach Mike Leach has seen the video.

"… Southern Utah, you can certainly argue, they should have beat Cal," he said. "They look like a physical group. They're big, strong."

In the Thunderbirds' lopsided win last week over Fort Lewis, the defense forced seven turnovers.

Junior linebacker Matt Holley returned one fumble 19 yards for a touchdown and sophomore safety Miles Killebrew returned another 89 yards for a score.

For SUU to have a chance against Washington State, its defense must keep the Thunderbirds in the game.

"The bus won't be leaving until the end of the game," Lamb said, "so we might as well keep playing and see what happens." —

Southern Utah at Washington State

O At Martin Stadium (Pullman, Wash.)

Kickoff • Saturday, 4:30 p.m.

TV • Pac-12 Network

Radio • 91.1 FM

Records • Southern Utah 2-0, Washington State 1-1

Series • First meeting

About the Thunderbirds • They have beaten South Alabama (22-21) and Fort Lewis College (49-0). … They have not started 3-0 since 1980. … This is the first of three straight road games (Washington State, Sacramento State, Northern Colorado). … QB Aaron Cantu threw four TD passes against Fort Lewis.

About the Cougars • They opened the season on the road, losing to Auburn (31-24) and beating USC (10-7). … Their defense limited the Trojans to 193 yards of offense. No play gained more than eight yards. … In the two games, QB Connor Halliday has completed 61 of 103 passes for 559 yards and a touchdown.