The Tailgater's Guide to Cougar Football is a weekly series, published every Thursday, designed to prepare you for the upcoming week's matchup - both on and off the field.
Martin Stadium, Pullman, WA. 2 p.m. Pacific
Television - Comcast Sportsnet (Oregon only)
Radio - Cougar Sports ISP Radio Network
Oregon 52, WSU 6 (2009)
Why It Matters
When I was a student in Pullman, the equivalent to this game was when USC came to town. It was clear from the moment the Trojans stepped on the field that they had something the Cougars clearly didn't. That something was players with NFL-caliber size and skill, the type that a coach could only attain through savvy recruiting with some cheating mixed in for good measure. Size and skill were two attributes the Bill Doba Cougars - while competitive - never had. In most cases, the USC game was a blowout with maybe a glimpse or two of hopeful moments for WSU.
The same goes this weekend's game for Oregon, although the Ducks operate a little differently. Instead of blowing you off the field with size and talent, the Ducks do it with speed and talent. Which is the worst thing imaginable for the Paul Wulff Cougars, who are currently on the practice field whiffing on tackling dummies. Sorry, it's a joke. I still love our team.
We'll pay attention to this game for one main reason. If the Cougars win this game it will be one of the most improbable upsets in the history of sport. Any sport. It would at least rival Stanford/USC in terms of pure shock, given how bad one team is and how high their opponent is flying.
It's always a possibility, even if the odds are tremendously against it. Last week I said we had "no chance" against UCLA, and look what happened. Even the Doba Cougs got a shot in against USC: The infamous 2006 game that ended when the clock expired and Alex Brink's "Frail Mary" was intercepted by Taylor Mays at the 4 yard line. We would be awfully lucky to see this weekend's game get to that point.
Key Matchup - [Insert opponent's running back] versus [insert Cougar D-Line and/or Linebacking unit]
LaMichael James, Oregon - If you're into the Heisman race, this is an opportunity for James to put himself easily among the top contenders for college player of the year. Eight yards per carry, even after facing a couple Pac-10 defenses on the schedule make me wonder if he can't touch 300 yards in this game. I don't think that's hyperbole. The only way he doesn't have a huge game is if the Ducks use him conservatively, which realistically they should, if their sights are in fact set on a National Championship.
Jeff Tuel, WSU - Last week we learned that WSU can hang in a game simply by way of their offense and a couple forced turnovers. Jeff Tuel is a big part of that. If the Cougars can make gains in the passing game and keep time of possession respectable, they might yet have a shot. Of keeping this one within 20 points.
Why WSU Might Win - Nope. Not happening. (Which is what I said last week, and we ended up having a shot. Don't fault me for being superstitious.)
Why Oregon Might Win - Those wacky uniforms! I sure hope they wear the gray ones, you know, since gray is totally one of their school colors and not one of ours.
Which reminds me, I hate the fact Oregon coach Chip Kelly is using "Win The Day", a lyric from our fight song, as his mantra for all things Oregon. I know it wasn't intended as a slight on us, but it's incredibly annoying. I'd imagine Florida fans feel the same when they see us do the Gator Chomp.
Recommended Local Activity - Zeppoz - A patient at the pharmacy today informed me with great happiness that he would be leaving the building after his pickup to go bowling. I don't know why, but it made me glad people can get so much joy out of something like that. It reminded me of Zeppoz, which is now your one and only choice in Pullman for bowling. That's because the totalitarian regime that runs WSU hates happiness and replaced the CUB gaming area and bowling alley with a bunch of conference rooms. Conference rooms that couldn't go anywhere else, because the new CUB
sold out to graciously welcomed The Bookie.
Recommended Food - The Emerald. One of my better Dad's weekend stories involves my family going to the now-defunct (I think) Azia restaurant near apartmentville. Since there are about 1.4 million people visiting Pullman on any given parents' weekend, we waited about 15 minutes to get a table followed by over an hour sitting at the table, with no hope of service in sight. Needless to say we got frustrated and left. Around 8:00 we arrived at the Emerald where we got a table right away, and food in about five minutes. I don't know how they always cook up food that fast, and quite frankly I don't care (also: I don't think I want to know). I miss you, Emerald. Regardless of the restaurant I will always refer to a particular food item as 'Emerald Fried Wontons'.
Trader Joe's Gametime Snack of the Week presented by Trader Joe's - [author's note: we actually don't receive any money or favors from Trader Joe's. But I'm hoping that they will, in the form of sending me free stuff and/or coupons or gift certificates for me endorsing their food here on CougCenter. Trader Joe's reps, please e-mail us at email@example.com, subject line: free food for Grady]
Let's go with Trader Joe's knockoff Wheat Thins. Wheat Thins: the food you eat when you'd rather be eating chips and want to feel slightly less guilty.
Gametime Beer of the Week - Busch Light. You knew it had to happen some time. Homecoming felt right.
Prediction - Oregon 72, WSU 21. High scorin' fun for the whole family, available through the magic of your AM radio!
Remember, the only guarantee is that Reid Forrest is a better punter than your punter.
Enjoy the game, and as always, Go Cougs.