Talk around town is that this 2013 Cougar football season may be one of the most promising we have seen in years. Another year under Mike Leach, means another year for everyone to learn the offense, including Quarterback Connor Halliday. But before we get too excited, we need to remember how the last few years have gone when the Cougar football team gets our hopes up.
We are going to break down the schedule and talk a little bit about each conference game, focusing on where things could go wrong for the Cougs.
Following the difficult loss at Auburn to open up the season, the team bounced back in a big way. They went down to Southern California and shocked the Trojans of USC in the Coliseum. The Trojans were ranked in the top 25 going in to this game, making the upset feel even sweeter. USC had high expectations this year, so this win for the Cougars should really help boost the teams’ confidence.
For the first conference home game of the season, the team will host Stanford in the Seattle Game. Mattias Dilling, a junior here at Washington State, thinks Stanford is the team to beat in the PAC-12 this year. “Stanford brings back too many starters from last season, including one of the country’s top defenses,” says Dilling. Stanford started off the year ranked in the top 10 of most polls around the country. Worst case scenario for this game is a lopsided loss for the Cougars. Hopefully Leach has this team ready to play and will look to pull off another upset, but this will be one tough game.
After their game in Seattle, the Cougs travel south to take on the California Bears in Berkeley. This should be a winnable game for the team, even though the Bears have another solid squad this year. If the Cougs aren’t too beat up from the previous week against Stanford, I believe they can find a way to pull off this victory on the road. Worst case scenario I see the Cougars playing a great first half and then letting go of the lead at the end, making for a long flight home.
Next on the schedule are the two schools from Oregon. The Cougars will play host to the Oregon State Beavers, before heading down to Eugene to take on the Oregon Ducks. The Cougs really need to find a way to take care of business against the Beavers at home, because beating the Ducks on the road is going to be nearly impossible. Worst case scenario the Cougs drop a tough one at home against the Beavers then head to Oregon and get wacked by the Ducks.
Next up for the Cougars are the two teams stationed in Arizona. They will start off with the highly anticipated game against the Arizona State Sun Devils on Halloween. This will be a huge game for the Cougs, as they go up against one of the top teams in the conference on national television. Then after a bye week, the team travels down to Tucson to battle the Arizona Wildcats. Each of these teams are improved from last year, and have high expectations heading in to this season. A win over both these teams would be a lot to ask of the Cougs, but it is definitely possible. Worst case scenario the team loses in a couple of nail-biters that come down to the wire.
In the final home game of the year, the Cougars welcome in the Utah Utes. Utah is also a much improved team from last year, and will look to knock of the Cougs for the third straight year. This is another big game for the team, because they will want to head in to the Apple Cup the following week with as much momentum and confidence as possible. I believe the Cougs take care of business at home against the Utes, but worst case scenario they lose in another close one before heading to Seattle for their final game of the regular season.
A lot of people are looking forward to the Apple Cup, including C.J. Hyland, a junior here at Washington State. “We are really going to see what the Cougars are made of when they make the trip up to Seattle at the end of November,” says Hyland. The Huskies are going to be out for blood after the Cougars upset them in last year’s Apple Cup. Just like the rest of the conference, the Huskies are much improved from last season. That was very evident in their season opener, when they dominated a highly ranked Boise State team. Worst case scenario, the Huskies get their revenge and send the Cougs home unhappy.
Obviously I hope these scenarios do not happen and the Cougs can figure out a way to win a few conference games this year. I do believe the team will be much improved from last year, and they can find a way to get to six or seven wins and become bowl eligible. It has been 10 years since the team has gone to a bowl game, so any postseason appearance would be a huge step for this improving football team.