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Friday, August 23, 2013

CFB Northwest 2013-14 Preview: Washington State Cougars

Last year, the Washington State Cougars finished with a 3-9 record and a shocking upset win over the hated rival Washington Huskies. The Cougars came into the 2012-13 with high and probably unrealistic expectations. The Cougars lacked strong veteran and senior leadership and the quarterback position was constantly in flux. This year, the Cougars look to get to a bowl game. This is a good goal to set but it is all dependent on the quarterback position. Leach has said Connor Halliday will be the starter but do not be surprised if backup Austin Apodaca plays if Halliday struggles early.

Washington State Cougars @ Auburn Tigers
This is not the easiest opener. Even though the Tigers were pitiful last year, the Cougars were pretty bad themselves. Also, the game is in Auburn, Ala. This not a very friendly environment to play in. The Tigers will most likely start Johnathan Wallace at quarterback after starting quarterback Kiehl Frazier volunteered to move to safety to help a dismal defense. The Cougars return an experienced offense.It will be up to Dominique Williams and Brett Bartolone if the Cougars want to have any success offensively. I can see a big win in Auburn though.
Result: Cougars win 28-24

Washington State Cougars (1-0) @ USC Trojans
This is quite a step up for the Cougars in competition. The Trojans have the amazing wideout in Marquise Lee. To my knowledge, no one on the Cougars defense is fast or quick enough to handle him man-on-man. The Cougars will need to generate pressure on opposing quarterback Max Wittak, who struggled in the final two games for the Trojans. However, the Trojans may not be as good as past teams but they have the talent to win this football game easily.
Result: Trojans win 35-24

Washington State Cougars (1-1) vs Southern Utah Thunderbirds
This game should be an easy one for the Cougars. However, nothing comes easy. Remember, the Cougars almost lost to Eastern Washington last year, a game that was supposed to be an easy win as well. I expect Leach to give the Cougars the proper motivation and not give the Thunderbirds any hope of winning the game. This game should be won by the Cougars comfortably.
Result: Cougars win 52-7

Washington State Cougars (2-1) vs Idaho Vandals
Washington State's rival just eight miles down the road visits Pullman. The Vandals could win this game because anything happens in a rivalry game. I do not expect the Cougars to take them lightly. Leach will have them fired up and looking to send a knockout blow in the first half of the game. The Cougars offense will look to run up the score against a Vandals' defense that gave up almost 43 points per game last season.
Result: Cougars win 59-13

Washington State Cougars (3-1) vs Stanford Cardinal
The matchup between these two teams last year produced a very entertaining game. However, Stanford clearly has the better athletes on the defensive side of the ball. Shane Skov might be the most intimidating defensive player in college football. He can dominate a game be himself. The Cougars will be forced to throw over 40 times this game because the run game will be a struggle. I believe the Cougars will hold their own and will keep the game close before Stanford wears them out with their physical play.
Result: Cardinal win 31-21

Washington State Cougars (3-2) @ California Golden Bears
The Golden Bears are in a similar situation the Cougars were in last year. The Golden Bears have a very talented coach coming into a decent program. Golden Bears have a triple threat at runningback. C.J. Anderson, Isi Sofele, and Brendan Bigelow each at least averaged over five yards per carry. The Cougars will look to stop the running game and force the Golden Bears to pass the ball. The Golden Bears lost top receiver Keenan Allen to the NFL Draft, making passing a struggle.
Result: Cougars win 28-17

Washington State Cougars (4-2) vs Oregon State Beavers
This game was close but it was not like both teams were playing well. The Cougars did not register a touchdown and the Beavers' quarterback Sean Mannion played mediocre at best. I think the Beavers are poised to challenge for the Pac-12 North title. The Cougars need a bit more help on defense. I expect Beavers' runningback Storm Woods to power his way through the Cougars defense. This game will be close and it will stay that way to the very end. However, Cougars will come just short.
Result: Beavers win 31-28

Washington State Cougars (4-3) @ Oregon Ducks
This has blowout written all over it. I actually think the Cougars will put up a solid fight for the first half like they did last season. However, it's Oregon. This is the best team in the Pac-12 offensively. I think the Cougars will have some success against the Ducks secondary. However, their success will only come in spurts. The Cougars will have a lot of trouble keeping up with the speed of flex back DeAnthony Thomas and quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Result: Ducks win 50-28

Washington State Cougars (4-4) vs Arizona State Sun Devils
It's Halloween in Pullman. This game has all the makings for a terrific game. Both offenses are capable of explosive plays through the passing game. I believe this will be a back and forth affair. I think this game will an offensive display. Both defenses will struggle with defensive coverage because both teams have dynamic playmakers at receiver. A game like this very difficult for the Cougars and I think Arizona State is my favorite to win the Pac-12 South.
Result: Sun Devils win 45-37

Washington State Cougars (4-5) @ Arizona Wildcats
Although Arizona is looking to find a new quarterback after Matt Scott graduated, this is still a tough game for the Cougars. Arizona still has Ka'Deem Carey, the top rusher in the NCAA this past season. I expect Carey will be the focal point of their offense. Also, I think he will get into a lot of open space and create many matchup problems for the Cougars. I still think Arizona would be the favorites in this game but the Cougars will be competitive. However, a game at Arizona is not very easy to overcome.
Result: Wildcats win 34-21

Washington State Cougars (4-6) @ Utah Utes 
I think this is the game the Cougars get off the losing streak. The Utes need to solve their quarterback position because it was very inconsistent last year. Their defense needed a lot of work too. Even if the Cougars defense is not playing well, the Cougars have a better offense and should able to put up a high number of points more quickly than the Utes. I think the Cougars will win this game without much of a sweat.
Result: Cougars win 38-17

Washington State Cougars (5-6) @ Washington Huskies
As if this game needed any more hype in the state of Washington. The Huskies want to get last year's bad loss out of their mouth and the Cougars will be looking to reach a bowl game for the first time since the 2003-04 season. This is a tough one to call and anything can happen in a rivalry game. It will be a great game to watch but everything is against the Cougars. The Huskies have a great quarterback and runningback duo and they will be laying in front of a hostile crowd. I think the Cougars will keep it close up until the end.
Result: Huskies win 34-31

I have Washington State finishing the season with a 5-7 record. It is going to be rough knowing that they came so close. However, this young group of studs will be poised to jump on everyone in the Pac-12 next.   

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