Happy Football Friday on a Thursday Coug Fans.
Here we are, back in the saddle, for the "expert" opinion on Week Nine's conference slate. There has been a lot of conversation and debate this week about our coaching staff. One thing a lot of people are failing to see in the whole "fire the staff" or "keep the ship righted" is that the expectations for this program have been raised. Last week, truly represented the first conference game for this team since 2007, where the majority of this fan base expected to win. Win or lose, raised expectations are a good thing.
Expecting to win is something new, and I like it. Last week sucked, there is no doubt about that, but sometimes, football teams have flat performances. It represented our first "flat" performance since we played ASU and got smoked last year. That's a long stretch of competitive football, and is a sign of improvement, even though I may have said otherwise with my post on Tuesday. Hell, last week Boise State was flat against Air Force, and barely eked out the win late in the contest. Unfortunately, we're not at the stage of the game where we can be flat and expect to win.
Before we jump to this week's picks, here are a few interesting links that I have found for you. The first is from the folks at Cougfan, and is the opinion of two NFL scouts on everything Wazzu. The second is a link to Tuesday's interview with Jim Walden on the Furness Show. If you were anywhere near Twitter on Tuesday afternoon, you know there was a bit of an uproar over Walden's rant. Walden, bless his heart, is a total honk/fan. Imagine if Dave "Softy" Mahler was the color commentator to Bob Rondeau. Walden calls you stupid and a tightwad. Please, take the emotional part of his opinion with a shaker of salt.
Moving on to this week's picks.
ASU 31 - Colorado 3: ASU is good, but I have a hard time imagining they can cover the 30+ points Vegas is holding them to. They struggled at home with a bad OSU team and aren't nearly the same on the road as they are at home. Colorado is bad, like almost Wazzu 2009 bad!
UCLA 24 - Cal 20: Not that UCLA is a difficult road game for most, Cal struggles away from home. Slick is only three wins shy of saving his job and I see him pulling something like he did in 2002 with that fabled Northwest Championship.
Oregon State 35 - Utah 24: The Beavs should have a bit of swagger after coming into the CLink and dismantling Wazzu. Utah is getting adjusted to playing football with the big boys. Mannion shreds the Utes secondary and Riley has circled the wagons...again.
Stanford 49 - USC 24: I have been saying for weeks that the Trojans would have to begin their downward spiral at some point. I cannot believe they are only getting 7 points, considering Stanford has won 14 straight games, by an average margin of 30+.
Washington 38 - Arizona 31: Washington struggles against an efficient passing offense, and you certainly get that in Nick Foles. The Wildcats were fantastic in their first game, post Mike Stoops. UW will win this one, but I think it will be closer than most expect.
Oregon 56 - Wazzu 20: You think Chip has been watching the video of Oregon State smashing the Cougs feeble defense right up the middle? Even without Daron Thomas and LaMichael James, the Ducks should beat us by 5 touchdowns. Wulff moves to 8-37 in the last 3.5 seasons, the grumbling will continue.
Alright, folks. My post from yesterday was quite cathartic. I think I've effectively gotten all the bad vibes from last weekend out of my system. It seems that a lot of Cougar Nation is starting to think a bit more rationally and things aren't quite as doom and gloom as they were at the beginning of the week. Let's get on with my picks and see how those good feelings translate to my Cougar prediction. First, a look around the conference with a special Halloween theme mixed in...
Arizona State 45 - Colorado 20 I don't know why I think the Buffs will cover since there has been no indication of late that they can stay competitive deep into ball games, let alone against one of the conference's best teams (a title I begrudgingly bestow upon the Sun Devils). Unfortunately, a cover for Colorado still means losing by 25.
This game's horror movie comparison: "I Know What You Did Last Summer" because I know what Jon Embree did last summer: watch film of Pac 12 teams and think, "Oh poop. We're going to get killed."
California 27 - UCLA 17 Hey, UCLA. Thanks for embarrassing the conference on national TV last week! That was awesome. Thank goodness there is no Thursday primetime Pac 12 game this week. Those were not going well. If I made business cards, I'd be approaching Coach Neuheisel with some samples that say "Quarterback Coach" about now.
Horror movie: "28 Days Later", because one day Rick Neuheisel was head coach of the Bruins, then 28 days later, he was unemployed.
Utah 28 - Oregon State 21 On one hand, it's possible that last week was a breakout game and sign of things to come for Sean Mannion's career. On the other hand, he was essentially doing passing drills. I think it's more of the latter and he'll come back down to earth a bit this week (in spite of the FSN broadcasters sucking Mannion's popsicle for three hours on Saturday).
Horror movie: "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer" because Kyle Whittingham's summer was likely similar to Jon Embree's, albeit to a lesser degree, like a sequel.
Stanford 45 - USC 24 The Trojans are starting to look more and more like the teams from five or six years ago, but my goodness, Stanford just looks like a juggernaut right now. They can do damage in so many ways. I think they'll just keep on rolling as Peyton Manning's future back-up does big things on a big stage.
Horror movie: "The Ring". Andrew Luck is going to get a ring. The question is, will it be for a Pac-12 championship or a national championship? Or both?
Washington 42 - Arizona 35 This way, the Huskies will be back! I've gotta say, I'm fairly confused, though. For Husky Football to be "back", wouldn't that imply they're ready to compete for conference and national titles, not just beat bottom feeders? Whatever tickles the pickles over on Montlake I guess. Anyway, I think this will be the most entertaining game of the week, right up until the end when the Dogs win and I say, "rat farts."
Horror movie: "Night of the Living Dead" In 2008, Husky football was dead. For this Saturday night, it will be alive.
Bonus horror movie: "Psycho" We miss you, Coach Stoops.
So remember all that stuff about feeling better and not being so down on the Cougs and stuff? Too bad we're playing one of the best teams in the country. I think our Cougs will come out a little better (How could they not?), but it's not near enough against the Ducks I'm afraid. I'm feeling more optimistic, but it hasn't come around to delusional. Ducks 59 - Cougs 21.
Horror movie: "The Shining" because that's a movie about people that go to this strange place where everyone acts real weird and there's a good chance they're going to get killed. You know, kinda like Autzen Stadium.
Bonus horror movie (if LaMichael James plays): "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre". LaMike James is from Texas. See what I did there?
Happy Halloween. Go Cougs.
How are we all doing? Is everyone ok? I know, its been a tough week and now we have to go into Autzen stadium, so that’s nice. On top of that it turns out the CDC now has all the evidence they need that Busch Light causes acute compartment syndrome. Just what we needed. Sometimes being a Coug fan is kinda like Casey Kasem’s top 40, the hits just keep coming, and none of them are worth listening to. Of course we aren’t going to go roaring into Autzen at full strength this week, but the Ducks don’t have their QB either, or their Heisman candidate running back, or their brash and reckless and uber-talented DB/return man Cliff Harris. That should help, right? Actually, all these absences do is serve to illustrate the vast chasm that exists in talent and depth between our two programs. Oregon just plugs in a few 5 star dynamos they had in reserve (what are they, storm troopers?) while we burn redshirts on wire thin pre-pubescent freshmen, or dust off 7th year veteran has-been’s (never were’s?) who most of us mistook for grad assistants the last 3 years. Might as well pour a stiff one and get ready to turn the channel early because…
Wait a second. You know what, NO. I refuse to go down like this! Dammit, last Saturday’s game happened and now its over and this team and these coaches have endured a lifetime’s worth of vitriol (much of it from yours truly) over the last week. They are sick of it and whatever malaise they were suffering from entering the OSU game is long gone and replaced by a burning desire to silence all the haters. And you know what, this is NOT like the last few years. Sure, we have injury problems again, but this time we are plugging the holes with capable guys. I know, despite lots of therapy some of you can still remember our last trip to Autzen in 2009. I think it was 300 to nothing at the half. But this is not that team. In fact, Deone Bucannon, CJ Mizell, Brandon Rankin, Demante Horton, Sekope Kaufusi, Toni Pole, Nolan Washington, Casey Locker, Chester Sua, Logan Mays, Marquese Wilson, Ricky Glavin, John Fullington, David Gonzalez, Dan Spitz, Matt Goetz, Isaiah Barton, Isaiah Meyers, Henry Eaddy, Bobby Ratliff, Aaron Dunn, and more will be playing their first game in Autzen. That’s pretty much our whole team. These guys are going to be charged up when they hear that crowd. It is time, once again my friends, to summon the magical unicorn because if I keep doing it, sooner or later it will work, right?
Feel the magic, motherf&%$ers!
STUNNER - Cougs 38, Ducks 35
And now the other games, as if they matter…
ASU 48 - Colorado 14: Colorado is so bad, they lost to the Cougs at home. Its true, I was there. I really do think our fourth quarter dagger in Boulder was a death blow to this Buff squad. They were never good, but at least they had some fight in them. No more.
Cal 33 – UCLA 21: Is Maynard starting to get it? Once upon a time Tedford was considered a decent QB coach. I mean, that Aaron Rogers guy seems alright. Maybe he’s rediscovered the magic?
Utah 28 – Oregon State 24: I’m still not a Beaver Believer, even though Wulff is apparently. Utah is going to win a conference game this year and I just hope it’s this one and not against us in Pullman. Oh wait, they get to play Colorado too. Wow, talk about a weak closing stretch, these guys might get bowl eligible!
USC 35 – Stanford 33: After we polish off the Ducks, USC’s upset over the Furd officially turns the Pac-12 on its head. Ted Miller’s blog will EXPLODE, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria.
Washington 45 - Arizona 24: Wow, Zona really responded well to their new coach last week. Of course, they also got a bunch of their dudes suspended for brawling. Back to reality, Dawgs roll.