Welcome to Football Friday, week 5 style. And get ready for the Hot-Seat Bowl. I threw out a little preview over here, so check it out if you want. While I didn't make a prediction over there, I will here in just a moment.
I call it the hot-seat bowl for the obvious. If Stoops loses this game, they are 1-4 and for all intents and purposes, he's done in Tucson. Sure, they started 3-5 only to rally late last year in impressive fashion, but a 1-4 start with so many difficult games still to come on their schedule, they are officially done. For Doba, a loss here puts us under .500, and like Arizona, with so many brutal matchups yet to come, particularly on the road, we lose this one and you can clear off your calendar after the Apple Cup, for the 4th year in a row will be a bowl-less holiday season.
Anyway, the thing that gets me about this game is that while the hype is on the passing games, it's going to be all the "other stuff" that decides it. You know, stuff like defense, special teams, and maybe even the running game. And that's where I'm nervous from my WSU fan view. The third down defense is the worst in America, and our passing D is in the triple-digits among all teams. That, my friends, is simply not good, and I dare anyone to try and spin that in a positive light. Doba says "we're getting better", which might be true in some ways. But how a coach can say that when his team failed to even force a single punt last week, well, I just don't get it. I guess he's forced to try and put on a positive face when trying to describe a weakness that is so glaringly obvious, and he's got to try and pump those kids up. It's part of his job to make them feel good about themselves, and not simply pile on the dirt on top of an already deep hole.
But no matter how I look at this one, I just can't get past the defensive ineptness. Not that Arizona is an offensive GOD like Cal or Oregon or USC right now, but they really aren't that far off throwing the ball. And their clear strength, in fact their obvious strategy, is to spread you out and nail you on the quick stuff. Therein lies the biggest reason we're in huge trouble this week. And I'm not just saying this because of what happened vs. USC. Watching our linebackers and secondary trying to stop Idaho was a chore, and I'll say it again, if a frosh QB wasn't pulling the trigger for the Vandals, that game could have gone in a very, very ugly direction. Our linebackers and secondary just can't cover very well, period, end of story, and with the pass rush not doing a whole lot when it counts, it's a lethal mix.
I hate to be negative, and this is a WSU fan blog in every sense, but folks, unless we see a drastic improvement in the passing defense, I just don't see it this week. I'm going Arizona 37, WSU 30.
Oregon 49, Cal 45 - It's Bananas Offense as teams combine for over 1,000 yards. Dixon will erase memory from last year's meltdown at Berkeley that started the Ducks slide. Jonathan Stewart will have a huge game, as the Cal D lacks bite. Bellotti nails his former pupil in a big game, finally.
USC 39, UW 16 - It'll actually be close for the first quarter or so, but USC will pull away. We've seen this drill far too often. Be careful Jake Locker, for you may want to slide or run out of bounds instead of trying to run over Maualuga or Rivers at linebacker. Those guys want to put you in the MORGUE, not the hospital, ala Dick Butkus.
OSU 27, UCLA 24 - Canfield actually takes care of the ball, Bernard has a strong day, and the Beavs ride the homefield advantage to a big key win.
ASU 40, Stanford 21 - Dennis the Liar keeps the heat on the rest of the conference. Rudy and that offense is something else right now.
Enjoy the game. I HOPE I'M WRONG! And GO COUGS!