Washington State football: Leach looks to continue winning streak vs UO

Mike Leach, Washington State football. (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images)
Mike Leach, Washington State football. (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images) /
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Washington State football
Dylan Hanser, Washington State football. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images) /

Reversing the trend

After losing the first three games in this conference rivalry by scores of 51-26, 62-38 and 38-31, Leach has won the past three. Washington State’s overtime victory in 2015 by a score of 45-38 ended an eight-game losing streak against UO, going back to Bill Doba’s final season in Pullman. The next two games between these Pacific Northwest powerhouses ended with Leach’s Washington State squad winning by scores of 51-33 and 33-10. Despite their recent three-game win streak, Washington State still trails 47-41 against Oregon, with seven games ending in a tie.

Leach’s three-game winning streak versus this particular division foe has been parallel to his overall success at WSU. Despite having a winning record in each of his 10 seasons at Texas Tech, the “air raid” offense proponent had losing records in each of his first three years with the Cougars.

Although, Leach did lead Wazzu to an appearance in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl in 2013, the Cougars first bowl game in ten years. Unfortunately, it was a losing effort and WSU finished the season at 6-7.

When Leach, who is one of four NCAA Division I head football coaches that never played college football, replaced Paul Wulff after the 2011 season, there seemed to be only one place for the program to go, “up”. Wulff ended his four-year stint as head coach with the worst winning percentage (.184) in the school’s football program history. Despite his team-leading the PAC-12 in passing yards in his first season (2012), Leach experienced his first losing season as a head coach with a 3-9 mark.

Leach was voted the PAC-12 Coach of the Year in 2015. It was the second such honor in his career; the other being when he was at Texas Tech. Since 2015, when the coach won his first bowl game for WSU, the Cougars have reached a level of consistency in winning.

This has enabled Leach, a 1983 BYU graduate, to even his record at Washington State to 38-38 before the 2018 schedule began. The 43 victories that Leach has accumulated puts him one win shy of tying Jim Walden for third place in WSU’s football program history.