With the non-conference schedule now successfully predicted, we move on to the Pac-12 schedule. Like last season, WSU opens conference play against Colorado. Unlike last season, this game will be in played in Pullman. It will be Colorado's first trip to Pullman after previously playing WSU in Seattle and Spokane. Let's take a closer look at the 2012 Buffaloes.
2011 record: 3-10
2011 S&P+ rating: 173.4 (WSU 175.3)
2011 road record: 1-6
Returning starters: 12
Athlon Sports preseason ranking: 84 (WSU 51)
Phil Steele power rating: 119.39 (WSU 123.32)
All-time record vs. WSU: 4-3
Last meeting: Colorado 27 vs. WSU 31 (2011)
Bill C Stat Profile: LINK
Bill C Preview: LINK
I am always wary when a school hires a first-time head coach who puts together a rather disparate staff of assistants with whom he has barely worked. In other words, I was wary of the Jon Embree hire. But honestly, he was dealt such a poor hand on the injuries front that not even Bill Belichick would have won many games with this squad. In essence, then, Year 2 becomes Year 1 for Embree and company, even if, with Richardson, injuries have already taken a toll on 2012 as well. The road back to prominence gets longer and longer in Boulder, but a bowl bid is still a possibility with a hot start. And even some minor bowl, with a 6-7 final record, would represent a significant, positive step forward.
I think we can all admit WSU was a bit lucky to win that game last year. Having said that, the Cougars appear to be further along in the rebuilding process than the Buffaloes and should have an advantage playing at home.
One other thing to note is with the schedule, this could end up being somewhat of a trap game. If WSU starts 3-0, they would go into this game with the matchup against Oregon in Seattle looming a week away. I'm not sure a team that went 9-40 over the three previous seasons can have a trap game, but if they could this might be it.