PULLMAN, Wash. -- Washington State is the unofficial Pac-2 champion.
In a matchup of the only Power 5 teams left in conference limbo following the collapse of the Pac-12, the Cougars ended No. 14 Oregon State's seven-game winning streak with a 38-35 victory behind a brilliant effort from quarterback Cameron Ward.
"I think Cam deserves to be mentioned with the best quarterbacks in the country, period," Washington State coach Jake Dickert said. "I think he continues to show that, and I think nationally we undervalue him and what he's doing."
Ward, in his second year at Washington State after transferring from FCS Incarnate Word, completed 28 of 34 passes for 404 yards and four touchdowns without an interception as the Beavers had few answers for first-year offensive coordinator Ben Arbuckle's creative playcalling.
"The play calls are great," Ward said, crediting Arbuckle and quality control coach John Kuceyeski. "They know how to scout different ways in the opponent that we play. I'm more prepared going into each and every game -- way more than what I was a year ago."
Through four games, Ward has thrown for 1,390 yards (347.5 per game) with 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions. The Cougars are averaging 45.8 points per game and have quietly asserted themselves as a contender in the conference-title race.
A large part of Ward's success Saturday was due to the play of transfer receivers Josh Kelly (Fresno State) and Kyle Williams (UNLV). Kelly made multiple highlight-reel catches and finished with eight receptions for 159 yards and three scores. Williams had seven catches for 174 yards with a touchdown.
It was No. 21 Washington State's second victory against a ranked opponent this season, following its 31-22 win against then-No. 19 Wisconsin two weeks ago.
Oregon State (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) had allowed just four touchdowns in its three previous games, all of which came in the fourth quarter, but the Cougars (4-0, 1-0) immediately set the tone for a much different type of game when Ward hit Williams for a 63-yard score on the game's second play from scrimmage.
There wasn't much slowing down from there.
"I'm telling you, [Oregon State] is a top-15 team in this country," Dickert said. "How physical they are -- [the win] just takes us to a new level. It just really does, and I think I'm really proud of that locker room and what they've given."
Washington State had a chance to put the game away up 38-28 with 3:58 left, but a pass from Ward fell incomplete on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line. The Beavers answered with a touchdown drive but did not recover the ensuing onside kick needed to keep their chances alive.
"Just too little, too late," Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith said.
It was a deflating defeat for the Beavers, who came into the season with conference-title aspirations but are left with little margin for error after starting Pac-12 play with a loss.