Arizona State played well in beating WSU, but now Cougars prepare for Golden Bears.

PULLMAN — With nearly 24 hours to let everything sink in and examine the evidence, Washington State coach Paul Wulff realized something about the Cougars’ 42-0 defeat at Arizona State on Saturday night.

“Arizona State played the best game they’ve played all year, based on what I’ve seen on film,” Wulff said Sunday. “They took care of the football, they were very efficient and, defensively, they harassed us all day long.

“They punched us in the mouth early, set the tone and we never responded.”

It was that last sentence that surprised Wulff.

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Though the Cougars went into game 1-7, they have responded to challenges most of the year. And Wulff and his players knew they were in for a challenge for multiple reasons.

After all, Arizona State was coming off a 50-17 defeat at California and the Sun Devils were raked over the coals by critics all week.

“I knew we were going to face a team that was going to respond after losing a game,” Wulff said.

“We didn’t respond very well and we got beat by a better football team,” Wulff added. “That’s the bottom line.”

Another wounded team, the California Bears, comes to Pullman this Saturday, licking abrasions inflicted by Oregon State, including the loss of quarterback Kevin Riley to a knee injury.

“I always say don’t let your last game cost you your next game,” Wulff said.

“You’ve got to flush them. That’s what we’ve got to do. But the things we’ve got to take from it are you’d better understand if you don’t come to play every single week in this conference, you’re going to get knocked in the mouth.”