WSU quarterback Cam Ward had 327 passing yards and five total touchdowns all in the first half, the Cougars scored touchdowns on their first nine offensive drives, three players had their first-career TDs and WSU pummeled the Bears 64-21.
The Cougars' 718 yards of total offense were the third most in WSU single-game history, and many of those came from second- and third-stringers.
"We did what I thought good teams do and came in there and set a standard for how you want to play," WSU coach Jake Dickert said. "And obviously really great to see a bunch of guys play."
A perfect start
Ward was a perfect 12-of-12 for 169 yards with two passing TDs and one rushing TD on WSU's first three drives. Just like that, the Cougars (3-0) suddenly led 22-0 in the first quarter.
Northern Colorado (0-3) didn't score until getting a touchdown with 12 seconds to go before halftime, but at that point it had already been trailing 43-0.
Two of Ward's touchdowns went to senior wide receiver Lincoln Victor, who had a team-high six catches for 119 yards and could've had another touchdown that was dropped in the end zone.
"I thought Cam was phenomenal," Dickert said. "He was sharp."
The backups' time to shine
Many backup players only get a couple of opportunities to see the field in a season and WSU's reserves took advantage of their playing time against the overmatched Bears in a big way.
Freshman quarterback John Mateer went 7-of-8 for 138 yards passing and had two touchdown passes to a pair of Cougs who found the end zone for the first time — sophomore wide receivers Josh Meredith and Tsion Nunnally.
Mateer's deep ball to Nunnally down the left sideline for 62 yards was the longest play of the game.
"They actually let me let it loose today, which was a lot of fun," said Mateer, a redshirt freshman from Little Elm, Texas. "I was still questioning if I could play at this level because I've only ran the ball — I've thrown it three times before this game — and now I feel pretty confident."
Mateer showed what he can do with his legs as well.
On a third-and-14 play, Mateer scrambled all the way to his right, then back all the way to left and finally cut to the right again to cap a 15-yard rush.
In the run game, sophomore running back Dylan Paine had 81 yards — including a 52-yard rumble — and also scored his first-career touchdown.
"It's just getting in and feeling contact and playing real football again against someone that isn't your own team, it's a different feeling out there," Paine said. "I was happy to get out there and hit some guys that weren't wearing crimson."
WSU hosts No. 16 Oregon State at 4 p.m. Saturday (Fox) back at Gesa Field in a battle between the Pac-12's last two remaining teams (beyond this season).
The Cougars and Beavers are in an alliance of sorts off the field as they navigate their uncertain conference futures, but on the field it'll be all business between these two top 25 programs.
UNC 0 7 7 7—21
WSU 22 21 14 7—64
WSU — C. Ward 8 run (B. Riviere pass from J. Jenkins), 10:28.
WSU — K. Williams 37 pass from Ward (D. Janikowski kick), 6:08.
WSU — Victor 28 pass from Ward (Janikowski kick), 3:41.
WSU — J. Kelly 18 pass from Ward (Janikowski kick), 12:27.
WSU — N. Watson 6 run (Janikowski kick), 8:45.
WSU — Victor 31 pass from Ward (Janikowski kick), 3:20.
UNC — J. Robinson 18 pass from J. Sirmon (H. Green kick), 0:12.
WSU — J. Meredith 15 pass from J. Mateer (Janikowski kick), 9:43.
UNC — H. Gibbs 1 run (Green kick), 3:58.
WSU — T. Nunnally 62 pass from Mateer (Janikowski kick), 0:30.
WSU — D. Paine1 run (Janikowski kick), 4:04.
UNC — D. Stewart 52 pass from J. Sirmon (Green kick), 2:10.
Wiebe may be contacted at (208) 848-2277, email@example.com or on Twitter @StephanSports.