Upon the completion of Saturday's loss to Auburn, I posed a question to Twitter: Do the WSU Cougars beat Auburn if the game is in Pullman and not Alabama?
It's sort of an odd exercise, because of course the game wasn't in Pullman and it never would be because Auburn plays in the SEC and that would require the Tigers leaving their stadium for one of their four non-conference games, silly Nusser! But I thought it sort of got to the heart of this "WSU should have won the game" and "they were the better team" vibe that made the rounds in the wake of the loss.
My initial thought? Yeah - they win this game if it's at home. Granted, the final margin was a touchdown, which isn't exactly a field goal at the gun. But a touchdown either way is still close enough that a few crucial plays can decide the outcome - the final interception by Connor Halliday, thwarting a potential game-tying touchdown drive, being example No. 1.
If this game is in Pullman instead of in front of 85,000 Tigers fans, does Halliday make fewer questionable decisions? Do Jeremiah Laufasa and Deone Bucannon hold their lanes better on that kickoff return? It seems to me that a young team on the road might be prone to more mistakes. Do a few of those passes result in pass interference calls? Given the Apple Cup, I don't think this last one is even up for debate, and maybe that helps supply the touchdown WSU needs to get one more touchdown.
Not everyone agreed, including one Alex Brink, who knows a bit more about playing actual football games in Pullman than I do. It was a good discussion, and maybe I'm way off base. But the fact that it's even debatable is kind of nice, considering there's nobody who would have (rationally) argued that with BYU in 2012, San Diego State in 2011 or Oklahoma State in 2010.
What do you think? Vote and discuss below.