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Thursday, August 16, 2012

CFB Northwest 2012-2013 Season Predictions: WSU Cougars

A new era of Washington State Cougars football is beginning and eyes are on new head coach Mike Leach. Many fans are expecting him to be the "Savior" of WSU Football. Before we should even consider this, he's got to win games and the Cougars have a favorable schedule. There are plenty of win-able games for the Cougs. It will come down to how focused the team is each week. If they stay focused all year, a bowl berth will be in their near future.There is an on-going battle for starting QB between Jeff Tuel and Connor Halliday. I think Tuel is the favorite and will win the job in the end.

Washington State Cougars (0-0) @ BYU Cougars
Not the easiest of openers for WSU. BYU in Provo, UT will be the debut of the Mike Leach era and the return of QB Jeff Tuel as the starting QB. It's also on ESPN, which just increases the pressure. I think the Cougars will struggle at first but will be able to compete well behind QB Tuel and WR Marquise Wilson. The WSU defense will have to deal with QB Riley Nelson and RB J.J. Di Luigi leading the BYU offense. However, I see the Cougs winning in Leach's debut.
Result: Cougars win 31-27

Washington State Cougars (1-0) vs Eastern Washington Eagles
This is a great way to start the home part of the season: An FCS team. However, EWU is one of the better FCS schools in the country. They were on the heels of an upset against the Washington Huskies last year. However, I don't see the Cougars having a lot of problems. I think both the passing and rushing attacks will have big games.
Result: Cougars win 59-17

Washington State Cougars (2-0) @ UNLV Rebels
UNLV's going to be better than last year's team where the Cougs demolished them 59-7. However, the Cougars are going to be better as well. I don't see Las Vegas being a problem for the Cougars. I don't think they will beat the Rebels as badly as they did last year but it's still going to be be an impressive win led by WR Marquise Wilson and QB Jeff Tuel.
Result: Cougars win 52-20

Washington State Cougars (3-0) vs Colorado Buffaloes
The Buffaloes have had nightmares of Wilson catching that 62-yard bomb into the endzone at Boulder, CO. They will be looking to spring an upset on the Cougars in Pullman. It won't be an easy task. The Cougars will be up to the challenge. The goal will be to stop RB Tony Jones because the Buffaloes rely on the run. I expect the Cougars will do this and defend its home turf well.
Result: Cougars win 35-21

Washington State Cougars (4-0) vs Oregon Ducks (in Seattle, WA @ CenturyLink Field)
This is the first challenge the Cougars are going face this yer and it's a hard one. Oregon will have an explosive QB (Bennett or Mariota) with RB Kenjon Brner and WR/RB DeAnthony Thomas as weapons. New WSU defensive coordinator Mike Breske will have his hands full. Also, the Cougars will need to match the firepower of the Ducks. I think they will make the game close but the Ducks will score late to seal the deal.
Result: Ducks win 49-38

Washington State Cougars (4-1) @ Oregon State Beavers
The Cougars remember the 44-21 beat-down they suffered at the hands of the Beavers. It's time for payback. However, a game at Reser Stadium isn't the easiest of tasks and the Cougars must deal with veteran receivers Markus Wheaton and Brandon Cooks. Overall, this game is going to be a close affair but I see the Cougars holding off a late push by the Beavers.
Result: Cougars win 35-31

Washington State Cougars (5-1) vs California Golden Bears
While this game is at home, there is a good possibility this could be a "trap" game for the Cougars. The Cougars might be thinking about a bowl berth with a win more than actually getting the win. It's easy to overlook and discount the Golden Bears but they are dangerous. QB Zach Maynard will be in his second year as starting QB and RB Isi Sofele is a very good threat for the Bears. I think Cal makes the game interesting but the Cougars will feed of the Martin Stadium crowd and pull out a win.
Result: Cougars win 35-24

Washington State Cougars (6-1) @ Stanford Cardinal
The Cougars will be riding a lot of momentum with 3 straight victories and will be confident after becoming bowl eligible. However, a trip to The Farm in California is not what the doctor ordered. Without Andrew Luck, the Cardinal are not as good but their identity is run-first, which is really good. I expect Stanford to run the ball like they did last year against the Cougars. The Cougars will stop RB Stefan Taylor for a bit but in the second half of the game, look for Taylor to get some big runs. The volume of rushing attempts will wear out the Cougars' front seven.
Result: Cardinal win 45-35

Washington State Cougars (6-2) @ Utah Utes
This is another game were the Cougars' opponent is a bit underrated. Utah is perhaps the second best team in the Pac-12 South. They will be led by their workhorse RB John White IV. I think the Utes will use the same strategy as Stanford and pound the ball with the run and wear out WSU's defense. And then in the second half, spring RB White for large gains. This game will be close but the game is @ Utah so I do see Utah winning in the end.
Result: Utes win 34-28

Washington State Cougars (6-3) vs UCLA Bruins
After two straight losses on the road, a return is just what the Cougars need. Also, it's against UCLA who delivered an embarrassing defeat to the Cougars last year. There will be extra motivation to win this game at home. I think at the Cougars' best players (QB Tuel, WR Wilson and RB Rickey Galvin) will show up in a big way.
Result: Cougars win 45-17

Washington State Cougars (7-3) vs Arizona State Sun Devils
Last year, the Cougars' win against the Sun Devils was viewed as an upset. This year, the Cougars are highly favored with the Sun Devils under the new leadership of Todd Graham. It will be late in the year so I expect the Sun Devils to be very good with execution of the offense and defense. However, I don't think there is enough talent for the Sun Devils to compete the full 60 minutes with the Cougars.
Result: Cougars win 41-21

Washington State Cougars (8-3) vs Washington Huskies
It's rivalry week. The Apple Cup will be fierce and this could be the best one yet. Both sides are loaded with offensive firepower. Both defensive coordinators are going to have fits. However, I think the Huskies' Defensive Coordinator Justin Wilcox is more experienced due to his time with Tennessee in the SEC (Known as "The Best Conference in College Football"). It's hard to say who will win because QB Tuel and WR Wilson can match Huskies QB Keith Price and WR Kasen Williams. The factor will come down to running the ball and I think the Huskies will edge the Cougars in that area by a bit. This game could go either way but this year is not for the Cougars.
Result: Huskies win 38-35

The Washington State Cougars will but upset about losing to the Huskies. However, finishing the year with an 8-4 record and a bowl berth will be very reward. It's a four game improvement from last year's record of 4-8. I think there will be plenty of things to be positive about in Mike Leach's first year with the Cougars. And the strong finish will have people thinking Pac-12 North Title, a Pac-12 Championship, and a Rose Bowl berth the following year.

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