Rest easy, its a bye week!
No rest for the weary here at the WSU Football Blog. While the Cougs get a bye week, we just keep on keepin on with our Football Friday on a Thursday picks. The last couple weeks I have clearly demonstrated an aptitude for picking the opposite of what is going to happen, so please keep that in mind as you read Longball’s Locks. Even though our Cougs are on the shelf this weekend, there are still four really interesting conference matchups (and one stinker) that left me flipping coins and consulting a ouija board. One thing is for certain, five Pac-12 teams are going to be defeated this weekend and we ain’t one of them. Halleluja! Read on to see who we think they will be...
Oregon 44, ASU 28 -
This game has danger written all over it for the Ducks. In fact, there is a good chance that the Pac-12 Championship will be a re-match of these two teams instead of Oregon and USC. Crazy things happen in the Desert at night, but I just cannot bring myself to pick the upset here. The Ducks are just good, dammit, and thats all there is to it.
Cal 31, Stanford 28 -
Stanford scored a TD in overtime last week and they still haven’t put it on the scoreboard in South Bend. Do the Cardinal have the fortitude to bounce back from that emotional of a loss? Another road game awaits them and it just happens to be the BIG GAME against a resurgent Cal team. I am taking the Bears in a squeeker.
USC 55, Colorado 21 -
I need Colorado to win this one for my chance to .500 in my pre-season upset picks. Well I am going to be wrong on that pick, so I may as well be right on this one to balance things out. Trojans stomp all over the Buffs at home.
Washington 35, Arizona 24 -
Wilcox’s defense is starting to show some life and the Dawgs have played a BRUTAL stretch of Stanford, Oregon and USC. They are ready to feast a little bit of softer competition on a warm Tuscon night.
Utah 28, Oregon St. 21 -
There it is, my crazy pick of the week! The Utes rally behind a defensive and a special teams TD as Cody Vaz comes back down to earth and the absence of Storm Woods starts to hurt. Tough break for a Beavs team that was already looking ahead to a showdown in the Civil War to determine the North champ.
Hooray bye week. I don't know about you all but this week couldn't have come at a better time. I am beyond disappointed that the Cougs have struggled to put it all together but like many of you, I am trying to stay positive. But it's getting hard, isn't it? I cannot recall this much negativity and anger towards a coach so quickly into a huge regime change. The comments on our blog have gotten worse by the week, the negative tone of so many who believe they are smarter than coach Leach and have convinced themselves that this whole thing is a complete failure. It's just mind-boggling to me that so many would be so negative so quickly out of the chute.
But I do understand some of the angst. I have it myself, and it has been a hard season on yours truly. I bought the hype from all corners, that everything would magically turn around just because of the guy wearing the headset was a huge success at his prior stop and is universally praised by those in the college game as an offensive mastermind. It sure felt "real" coming in to 2012, so I let myself go there, you know? I too thought that we had a lot of talent coming back this year, and thought all things being equal that we would see the team improve by at least a few games from 2011. But like many fans who get caught up in the hype, I overlooked some real deficiencies on this team and I guess I chose to see what I WANTED TO SEE.
For example, I was enamored by what looked like a deep, talented receiving corps after what I saw in the spring game and heard about in practice reports. But I conveniently forgot about the loss of Jared Karstetter and Isiah Barton, you know, our #2 and #3 receivers from last year? They only combined for 109 catches, 1338 yards and 11 TD's and were two good sized, physically mature players on offense last year who not only were dependable catching the football but also could block defensive backs down the field, opening things up a bit for the underneath stuff. Marquess Wilson, Jared Karstetter and Isiah Barton were a hell of a trio at wide receiver, with a smart senior QB in Marshall Lobbestael with four years in the Wulff system pulling the trigger. And I overlooked the fact that we are starting two walk-ons on the offensive line, a group where let's face it, the prior regime struggled with infusing top-shelf talent and collectively allowed 187 sacks the last four seasons.
But there are some positives, believe it or not. The defense has 19 sacks in 7 games, which is already more than we had in three of the last four full seasons. And on offense, we are averaging 322 yards passing per game....which is EXACTLY what we averaged in the air in 2011, 322 yards per game. It sure doesn't seem like it after the struggles we have all seen, but it's true.
Anyway, I understand some of the pain and angst. I have it too. I overlooked the flaws too. But I am sick of the negative comments and without question, it kills any joy or passion I have left for writing on this blog.
On to the picks.
Oregon 38, ASU 24
Agree that this one is dangerous, but Oregon's deep reserve of talent just comes in waves. Like many of their games it will be close for a while, but by the end the Ducks will finish it off.
Cal 24, Stanford 23
BIG GAME in mid-October, WTF?!? Weird. Stanford hangs tough but I have a sneaking suspicion that Cal is getting their sea legs.
USC 44, Colorado 18
Another week, another "Man, we should have beat Colorado" feeling.
Arizona 31, UW 28
Before the season everyone was talking about UW turning it all around for 2012 starting with this game. But a funny thing happened along the way, and that is AZ is pretty damn good at moving the football! They are leading the conference in total offense, averaging 550+ yards per game. They have had some heartbreaker losses vs. Oregon State and Stanford, but they gave both of those teams all they could handle with their offense (and many could argue right now that Stanford and Oregon State have two of the better defenses in the conference this year?). With AZ coming off the bye, they are rested and ready for this one and will squeak it out at home. And did you know that with Pac-12 starting QB's who have started every game, Keith Price is tied for last in the Pac-12 in TD passes, just 7 after 6 games?? Amazing. I guess teams realized that with no Chris Polk in the backfield and two of his top targets at WR in Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguliar moving on, that Price doesn't have the same weapons around him?
Oregon State 35, Utah 23
Impressive win by the Beavs last week at Provo, I mean 42 points with Cody Vaz!? The Beavs have fully come back after their down couple of seasons, and they keep things moving in the right direction with a nice W.
Happy Thursday Coug Fans! A real quick look over at the Pick Em League Standings we still have our very own Sean Hawkins leading the way with 173 points! He's followed at 170 by MRogs12 and 169 by Longball, Soze Still Has No Class, St Pete Cougs, and IAMWINNERS. Keep up the good work everybody.
Oregon 49 - ASU 31: As a reminder, Thursday night games aren't included in the league. Oregon heads down to the desert for a Thursday night game with the surprising Sun Devils. I heard Todd Graham ordered a bunch of pizzas a sent them to the students in line at Sun Devil Stadium last night. Do you think he will do that for the students at whatever school he's coaching next year? Oregon should face there stiffest test of the season this evening, and I see ASU keeping it really close until midway through the third quarter. Wait, that just made me think of something, were we the team who played Oregon the closest for 3.5 quarters so far this season? Yikes!
Stanford 31 - Cal 20: The Big Game will be played in mid October as opposed to the end of November which is the first real shuffle we've seen as a result of the conference schedule. The Trees look to rebound after blowing a tough lead and losing to Notre Dame in OT last week. I don't see Bigelow, Anderson and Maynard hanging three bills on the Cardinal D.
USC 63 - Colorado 10: The spread is six touchdowns on this one. Could you imagine what it would be if we played at USC this season?
Arizona 38 - UW 35: UW hasn't won down in Tucson in nearly a decade, and so far have been a disaster on the road this season against team with offensive fire power. Nick Wilcox, meet Rich Rodriguez.
Oregon State 31 - Utah 24: Pretty sure nobody saw these two teams meeting with OSU at 4-0 and Utah at 0-4 in league play. Tell me you did, and I will tell you are a liar! I'd also imagine peeps thought the Beavs might see a bit of a drop off when they lost Mannion, but they walked into Provo last weekend and absolutely beat the piss out of the Cougars. Umm, maybe they are a Top 10 team?
That's all I've got, have a great rest of the day.