I've been racking my brain trying to find a storyline to cover for this Saturday's game.
The more I thought about it... That is, the further I zoomed out and began looking at the big picture, the obvious one appeared.
Saturday is Washington State's first game in the Pac-12.
It's taken some getting used to. I have to think twice now before saying the conference's name because if I just do it without thinking, the words "Pac 10" come out. And then it becomes "Pac-10... er, I mean 12". It's unnatural. We've spent the better part of our lives, heck, all of our lives if you were born after 1978, calling it that. We've railed against the awful, awful Pac-10 refs, the horrible Pac-10 television contract and the ridiculous Pac-10 tournament at the Staples Center every single year.
So it's only natural we're getting used to a two in the second digit instead of a zero. We have to get used to Colorado and Utah, too. Utah is easy, in that I've always been pretty neutral to them. I've only been to Utah by way of the Salt Lake airport... although I'm absolutely going back someday if for no other reason than to see Glen Canyon and all the amazing things the state has to offer in its backcountry. Utah is safe, somewhat isolated and somewhat boring depending on the area you're in. Which basically makes it like Spokane. That's familiar to me. Likewise, their football and basketball teams have stayed a respectable distance from teams that I like, and therefore I have always found the Utes fun underdogs to pull for. They've never really been much of a "rival".
Colorado is different. It's a state I've always wanted to visit but never have since I was a little kid. It's equally wondrous in terms of nature and it features a big city that's more of an actual big city (Sorry, SLC, although I doubt you'll take offense to that). It's a more progressive state culturally (in parts). I've never had any trouble with the University's basketball team, but I do have a beef with the football squad.
Colorado (and Nebraska) were responsible for one of the most egregious offenses against the Pac-10 by the BCS. Granted, it was more the system's fault than the Buffs', but there is no denying Oregon deserved to play for the National Championship in 2001. Let me refresh your memory: the BCS chose #4 Nebraska (10-1) and #1 Miami for the National Championship game, despite Nebraska getting crushed by #3 Colorado 62-36. [This is where my personal bias comes in. The Huskers are my second favorite team, by way of my mother, and that loss made it pretty convincing that they weren't National Championship material that year. It also made me angry at Colorado for being so good.] Many in the media were arguing that Colorado should have been in the title game. After all, they crushed Nebraska, won the Big XII Championship game over Texas and deserved the Rose Bowl appearance far more than the Cornhuskers did.
Of course, all of that wrangling about two-loss Colorado versus one-loss Nebraska was a moot point, because Oregon was miles better than both. The Ducks' only folly was a close loss to eventual #16 Stanford and their non-conference schedule featured wins over Wisconsin and Utah (<----everything's interconnected!). Of course, the BCS formula hated our humble little conference on the west coast and decided both Nebraska and Colorado were better than Oregon, and that Nebraska was better than Colorado despite that clearly not being the case on the field. Oregon and Colorado were relegated to the Fiesta Bowl, where the Ducks promptly crushed the Buffaloes 38-16 under Joey Harrington and one of the greatest uniform sets in college football history.
Now is it unfair that I blame Colorado for some of this? Certainly. Nebraska was more to blame and the BCS deserved (and still does deserve) even more vitriol. But Colorado and Nebraska had, in my mind, collectively committed a crime against the Pac-10. This was the start of my rooting for the conference as a whole, and rooting against what I viewed as the overrated Big 12 (which made Colorado and Texas A&M's defections just that much more fun for me).
As for the Cougs' history against Colorado... it's mixed. Most recently we had the ugly game in 2004 that ended when Alex Brink saw an open lane to the end zone, sprinted towards it... and was met by a Colorado linebacker he never saw coming. "I thought I was going in," Brink said afterwards. "I wanted that touchdown." Brink fumbled at the two yard line. That loss at then-Qwest Field was made even more sobering by the fact it came a year after WSU issued a 47-26 beatdown at Folsom Field.
And that leads us to today, which is shockingly seven years later. Now we're conference rivals, but to call it a rivalry isn't entirely fair. At least not yet.
Welcome to the Pac-12, Colorado. We're glad to have you -- just don't do to WSU what you did to Nebraska.
Recommended Local Activity - Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory. Did you know they make Celestial Seasonings in Boulder? You do now. Learn how tea is made, and for a 45 minute tour, *free* is a pretty good price.
Recommended Food - I don't claim to be an expert on Boulder, but the Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery sounds like my kind of place.
Gametime Snack of the Week - Poutine. This is a little bit of a holdover from our Canada edition, but what if I told you this: You could have fries, but instead of just salt on them you can have them smothered in delicious gravy and sprinkled with cheese curds for extra cheesiness. And somehow this isn't easy to find in the United States? We've already squandered our economic dominance over the world, let's not say goodbye to our overwhelming lead in obesity while we're at it. It's time to bring Poutine to McDonald's.
Gametime Cheap Beer of the Week - We're headed to Colorado for the first time this week so the cheap beer has to be Coors Light.
Gametime Premium Beer of the Week - Alpine Glacier Lager. 5280's choice for the best craft lager/pilsner in Colorado. So there you go. I'd drink this ahead of the Coors.
Gametime Song of the Week - I thought this was fitting after last week's fourth quarter.
Silversun Pickups - Panic Switch
Via Stumonkie; YouTube
Prediction: Washington State 31, Colorado 24
At the start of the season, I predicted we'd lose in Boulder. Now, somehow, I have a good feeling about this. WSU has proven to be a promising young team and Colorado's start hasn't been the greatest on either side of the ball. Finally, we will have payback for the 12-0 defeat suffered by the Cougs at Joe Albi Stadium in 1982.
See you on the gamethread, and Go Cougs.