Happy Football Friday on Thursday Cougs. Hard to believe it's already week two, as we near the home opener for the Mike Leach era.
So what are your expectations leading up to this one? Are you positive that things will click in the vaunted Mike Leach offense? Or are the Cougs in for more struggles and out-of-synch moments with the football? Read on for our takes on what we think will happen this week.....
What's up Cougs? Ready for some football?? I know I am. For some reason it's felt like a month since our last game and I certainly can't wait to see the Cougs take the field on Saturday (no, I won't be there, but the Pac-12 network will have to do).
So, this week - I keep going back and forth here, on whether or not we're going to see a close game or if the Cougs will break away. Part of me feels like the Eags will bring it this week, and they are full of confidence after 1) playing UW tough last year in an otherwise disappointing season in the Big Sky; 2) the Eags are buoyed with enthusiasm after beating Idaho; and 3) are even more sure they will take it to the Cougs after watching the WSU video vs. BYU.
But that was last week, this is THIS week. And here's why I'm feeling good for this Saturday.
1) From all the notes and quotes and soundbites-n-such, all indications are that WSU has left last week where it belongs and they are firmly looking ahead. One of the great things about sports is that no matter what happened the prior game/week/etc, you always get another chance to turn it in the right direction and start with a clean slate. Sometimes one game, or hell, even ONE PLAY can make all the difference in the world. For example, yeah, the Cougs got beat 30-6 last week. But ask yourself, what if two holding calls weren't made vs. WSU, and instead the Marquess Wilson TD catch held up, and the second long throw set up first-and-goal. What if the Cougs would have punched it in on that second holding call possession, and suddenly the final score would have been 30-20, not 30-6. Grippi in his SR.com blog asked this question after the loss last week, and it makes you not only wonder how you would feel if they did close the gap on the scoreboard in that game, but also realize how close things really were to breaking in a positive direction for WSU? Anyway, I believe that they are ready to go this week.
2) Coachspeak says that the biggest improvement for a football team can occur between week one and week two. Well, here we are. There is no doubt that improvement is needed, and the young Cougs had the first-road-game yips last week with all the new faces. But this week they are home, they are angry, and they are playing a far less talented foe in EWU (and no disrespect to the Eags, but I really believe BYU is going to be a pretty damn good football team this year). BYU is big, strong and talented on defense, and they had the ability to clog up the passing lanes and take away the windows that the Leach passing game looks for. Again, not killing the Eags here, but I seriously doubt they'll be able to drop 8 into zone coverage and get away with it over four quarters.
3) Jeff Tuel. Yes, the numbers weren't great last week, and a couple of INT's doomed the offense. But did you realize he still went 30-for-45 through the air? I was shocked to see he completed THIRTY passes against that defense, and it felt more like 20. But still, it wasn't as bad as you might think, and that has me feeling better this week. I smell a big game for the senior's last home opener at WSU, especially since last season was such a lost year for him on a personal level. It is time for Tuel to make a major statement about how this final season is going to play out.
4) FCS vs. FBS? Take FBS and don't look back. Yeah, I know, there are upsets every year. Sometimes the FBS team will in fact lose to the FCS, and you only need to look back to last year when Sac State beat Oregon State in Corvallis. And of course it is always big news/headlines/etc when it happens. But traditionally in these situations, you would be wise to go with the FBS team. Why? Well, thanks to Maizenbrew.com's great research, did you know that since 2002, the FBS has won 702 out of 763 games played between FBS and FCS schools?? That equates to basically 92% of the time, the FBS team will triumph.
In the end, I'm still not sure how good things will look on Saturday. But I do believe we'll see yards and points. Not to the extent that WSU drilled Idaho State last year, nor like what we saw vs. UNLV in week 2 of 2011. But I think at the end of the day we'll all go home happy. Cougs get it started early, but the Eags will hang tough. But by the third quarter things will start to break open after a tight first couple of quarters. Tuel gets hot, Marquess Wilson gets loose, and the gates will finally open. WSU takes it, 38-21.
Other Pac-12 games:
LSU 44, UW 17 - A tiger at practice? Nice page out of the Mike Price 1989 playbook there Sark, where Price dressed as a duck hunter at one practice and had Traveler the horse ride on to the field at another for the USC game. LSU is bigger, stronger, faster, deeper, etc. And it's going to be a hot, humid night in Death Valley. Not a whole lot of fun for a UW team that looked pretty wobbly after SDSU adjusted to the reality that UW no longer has Chris Polk in the backfield!
OK State 37, Arizona 30 - A surprisingly tight game in Tucson, but the Pokes hold off the Cats. But watch out for what lies ahead for Rich-Rod!
ASU 27, Illinois 23 - A tight one, but the Devils get to 2-0.
Colorado 21, Sac State 16 - Buffs should prevail, but watch out for SAC! They waltzed into Corvallis a year ago and beat the cocky Beavs, so anything can happen.
Nebraska 42, UCLA 20 - UCLA offense comes crashing down to earth after playing a strong, tough Nebraska team.
USC 48, 'CUSE 21 - Men of Troy struggle early, then just roll the Orange.
UTAH 33, UT State 24 - Tough call vs. Longball's men of Logan(?), but the Utes get it done late with the power running game and tough defense.
CAL 45, Southern Utah 14 - Big-time bounceback for Tedford's troops.
Oregon 55, Fresno St 30 - Fresno St will put up some points, but just too much Oregon O to deal with.
Oregon St 28, Wisconsin 24 - SHOCKER in Corvallis as the rested Beavs stun Wisky.
Stanford 34, Duke 17 - Smart guys beat smart(er?) guys.
Enjoy the games, and of course, GO COUGS!
Happy Football Friday on a Thursday, y'all! Just a quick update on our Pick Em League, before we jump into this week's action. Leading the way with all 28 confidence points intact and a flawless 7-0 record after Week One (eventhough we only count confidence points) is TuelTime! Coming in second, we have tie between Leaching the Defense and Robiharv, both of whom have 26 points, and sport 6-1 records.
Also, just a point of clarification, I think I noticed a few people who had Oregon and USC assigned with 1 & 2 points. The more points given, the more confident you are in victory. Sorry, but now you know!
Utah 28 - Utah State 21: Sorry, Shaney! I love what the Utes have with John White IV and that defense. Remind me a bit of the Seahawks.
Sacramento State 28 - Colorado 17: The Buffs are the new Wazzu. Only problem is we never lost to a Big Sky team under Doba/Wulff. I guess that makes Colorado the new Oregon State? The Hornets knock of Pac 12 foes in back-to-back seasons!
California 38 - Southern Utah 3: Southern Utah is a Junior College, right?
USC 56 - Syracuse 20: After failing to eclipse the half a century point barrier last week, the Trojan offense hits mid form this week in up-state New York. Thank you Christ we don't have to see the Trojans in 2012!
Wisconsin 35 - Oregon State 21: Last week the Beavers were Hurricane Ike'd and didn't get their cupcake in against Nicholls State. Meanwhile the Badgers tuned up with a ho hum win over a directional Illinois school. Actually, maybe it was a directional Iowa school. Either way, Wisky rolls in this one.
Oregon 67 - Fresno State 17: Was anybody else shocked that Chip Kelly pumped the brakes at halftime last week against Arkansas State? Me thinks he puts the pedal back to the metal this week. I am pretty stoked to see Black Mamba in-person in three weeks!
LSU 45 - UW 24: I'm not gonna lie, I am pretty jealous that my Husky friends get to visit New Orleans and Baton Rouge this weekend. It's a trip that I recommend every diehard football fan makes at least once in their lifetime. Sark took a page right of of Mike Price's book by having that live bengal tiger at practice earlier this week. Sheer genius! Unfortunately the Dawgs are already nicked up pretty good after Week One, losing Jesse Callier, Jamora and Ben Riva for significant chunks of the year, if not entirely, and it couldn't have been encouraging the way Teeth Price was limping around against SDSU.
Nebraska 42 - UCLA 28: If Rex Burkhead is a go, the Bruins will be in for a long day. These guys are not the Rice Owls!
Oklahoma State 70 - Arizona 21: Man, the Cowboys are just disgusting on offense, and I can't name a single dude on that roster. Seriously, they could have hit triple digits last week, but apparently I'm a man, I'm 40 has a soul. This is the third time in the last 15 games the Wildcats have played Okie State, and will be the first time they eclipse 14 points.
Illinois 31 - ASU 21: It was pretty hard to glean anything from the Devils romp over NAU last week. That being said, if they played in the North Division, I think they would finish last. Will likely be a long season for Sparky.
Stanford 38 - Duke 24: Stanford definitely improves from last week, but it becomes clear after another less than stellar victory against a bad team, that Stanford is not the clear favorite for 2nd in the Pac 12 North.
Wazzu 45 - EWU 28: If we keep this trend up, we should beat UNLV 84-26 next weekend and Colorado 123 - 24 the following week! All terrible logic aside, while EWU is a great program that has accomplished many great things the last few seasons, they're still a Big Sky program, with Big Sky talent. While they might have spanked Idaho, let's be real, the Vandals would easily finish in the lower half of the Big Sky if they played in it this season. Leach and Breske have had more than a week to tinker with what the team displayed last week at BYU, and lets be real, live bullets mean more than anything you can ever accomplish in practice. Did you know, Nick Saban lost a home game to Louisiana-Monroe, at home in Week 11, his first season in Bama? Dude won a National Title at LSU and had a stint in the NFL, and lost to a team whose mascot you couldn't name without Googling it. Let's slow down the venom from last week folks, breath easy, unless there is a major catastrophe, we should be sitting at 3-1 here shortly. If we aren't then maybe we can start worrying!
Have a great rest of the week, and Go Cougs!
It's time for the much anticipated home opener at renovated Martin Stadium and who better to celebrate this occasion with than the Eastern Eagles? The Eagles no doubt are still stinging from two shellackings we dealt out to them in the early 1900's (the combined score in two meetings is 119-0!) so they'll be hungry for some revenge. Of course back then it was probably the Washington Territorial Polytechnic Institute "Tee Pee Torchin' Sod Busters" against the Fort Cheney Grammar School "Scalpin Savages". So after over 100 years and the invention of something called political correctness, this may be the first ever meeting of the Washington State "Cougars" and Eastern Washington "Eagles" after all. Until either team proves otherwise, its probably wise to assume that Eastern will stick to their trend of giving FBS teams all, or more than they can handle, while the Cougs will contnue to resemble the football version of the New Jersey Generals. Of course, I've never been wise, so I'm going to go ahead and take the Cougs (cautiously) in a win that does little to inspire confidence, but makes us just as "1-1" as a 50 point blow out would. Cougs 42, Eags 33.
And around the Pac-12 -
LSU 38, UW 34 - Wha? Really? But they are going to MURDER the Dawgs in Baton Rouge!!! Just like the Cougs, the Dawgs are over their first game jitters and deliver and inspired performance on the Bayou, putting a major scare into the Tigers.
OK State 48, Arizona 24 - I have no idea what to think of Arizona at this point, but I am pretty certain that Okie State has reloaded their offense.
Illinois 28, ASU 24 - I do NOT want to believe that ASU is good this year. So I am just going to go right on not believeing it!
Colorado 30, Sac State 10 - Colorado feels worse than we do after week one. That must be awful.
UCLA 33, Nebraska 30 - You've been patiently waiting for me to pick one of my whacky upsets, well there you go!
USC 44, 'CUSE 17 - Trojans gonna make marmalade outa the Orange.
UTAH 35, UT State 28 - Amieable and I will be in the stands for this one, so I will have a scouting report on Utah shortly. I hope to report that I suddenly believe we have a chance when we visit the SLC this year. I doubt I will report that. I do think the Aggies make this one look interesting early.
CAL 40, Southern Utah 7 - Cal is angry, SUU is in trouble.
Oregon 50, Fresno St 21 - I am actually excited to see Oregon's uniforms. This has evelovled into a fun Saturday tradition.
Wisconsin 28, Oregon State 24 - This is a sexy upset pick, but I am stickin with Wisky. Badgers and Montee Ball are too physical for the Beavs.
Stanford 28, Duke 10 - In water polo, I give the edge to Stanford, but in football... I give the edge to Stanford.
Them's my picks. Enjoy the games folks and GO COUGS!
It's bounce-back time, baby! The Cougs are winning big on Saturday. That's just all there is to it. I refuse to accept any other outcome. It may be irrational and homerish of me, but uhhhh...hello? That's what I do. I refuse to go into a game against an FCS opponent with fear in my heart. Those days are over, my friends. The Air Raid will be unleashed in front of a sun-baked capacity crowd this Saturday and it's going to be awesome. Cougs win 45-17. Boom.
Utah 24 - Utah St. 13 I like the Utes' defense to get the job done in the battle for the Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi Trophy, but Utah State should be able to put a decent scare into them.
Colorado 28 - Sacramento St 17 Man, I wanted to pull the trigger on another Buffs loss and just kinda make that my thing this season. It worked out pretty well for me in the pick 'em last week, but I don't think the Bees will notch back-to-back Pac 12 wins.
Cal 38 - Southern Utah 3 Things I know about Southern Utah: It is located in Southern Utah. That's pretty much it.
USC 49 - Syracuse 10 Marqise Lee went off last week so I suppose Robert Woods will this week. That's just how it is for USC these days. They have a lot of ways to whip you.
Wisconsin 28 - Oregon State 20 The Badgers didn't exactly impress in their opener against Northern Iowa and we still aren't sure exactly what to expect from the Beavs, but even on the road I think Wisky pulls out the win. If I had an upset alert this week, it'd probbaly be this one.
Oregon 63 - Fresno State 14 So I guess that Marcus Mariota guy is pretty good huh? If there's a more exciting player in college football than D'Anthony Thomas, I'd love to see him. He'd probably have to shoot someone in the face The Last Boy Scout style to add more intrigue to the game than the Mamba does. The dude is unbelievable.
LSU 31 - Washington 16 So Coach Sarkisian apparently went pretty vanilla last week so as to not give LSU too much on film, then brought a tiger to practice this week for......some reason. Oh, Coach Sarkisian. You're so cute. You know what you should have brought to practice this week? A whole bunch of athletes who can hang with those mean mothers that are gonna be lined up for the LSU defense. That would help.
Nebraska 27 - UCLA 20 This game looks pretty interesting to me. Brett Hundley looked pretty fantastic in week 1, but the step up in competition is steep this week. If this game were in Lincoln, I'd expect him to really struggle, but at home I think the Bruins can keep it close. This could be a breakout game for the Jim Mora era, but I think the 'Huskers will have just enough to hang on.
Arizona State 31 - Illinois 14 The Sun Devils' win last week was probably a pretty hollow one, but you had to come away at least a little impressed, right? You know what never impresses me? Watching Illinois in those 9:00 games on ESPN after Gameday ends that they always seem to play in and always seem to be kinda crappy.
Stanford 38 - Duke 13 If Stanford fails to impress again this week, the Pac 12 North starts to really look like total chaos (aside from Oregon running away with it, of course). I expect them to take a big step forward against their fancy pants smart kids to the east.
Good luck to everyone and the pick 'em. Enjoy football, my friends and most of all, Go Cougs.