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We (probably) won't lose to Portland State

Portland State is not a very good team.

After a seventeen point win over Western Oregon, the Vikings fell by fourteen to UC Davis. Western Oregon is a Division II school, although in fairness they actually lead the overall series against PSU 11-9-1 (hat tip to for that stat). UC Davis is a more formidable opponent, but an opponent that lost to Central Arkansas by three points.

Last year, Portland State was 3-8, and 3-5 in the Big Sky. They had one big win: a 28-21 victory over (guess who) Paul Wulff's Eastern Washington team. They finished 192nd in the final 2007 Sagarin rankings. This year, they rank a more robust 154th. However, with only a couple of weeks of the season in the books, I'd put a little less stock in this year's rankings. The Cougs, even with our horrific start, still rank 105th.

There is one stat-related concern. The "predictor" ranking done by our good friend Jeff Sagarin is based purely off of points scored/points allowed. Sagarin states it is "the best single predictor of future games." That predictor ranking has the Cougs at #132 in the country and Portland State #150. Which is, obviously, a little too close for comfort.

The most important thing going for the Cougs tomorrow is talent, plain and simple. FCS (1-AA) schools have an extremely difficult time grabbing the kind of talent that FBS division (1-A) schools get. It's why Grambling was such a mismatch against us in Seattle. Certainly the gap is closing: we've seen that with App State over Michigan and Montana State over Colorado in recent seasons. But those are exceptions to the rule.  And the big teams still rule - especially at home. Add that to the fact that Portland State is not the program that Appalachian State, Youngstown State, or even Eastern Washington is. WSU can breathe a little easier with that in mind.

If I were to set the line for this game, I'd have the Cougars as 17 point favorites. There's a chance it could be a blowout, but there's also the possibility of a close game. Even less likely is the chance of a Viking victory.

We'll find out for sure tomorrow.

Pac-10 Picks:

Washington State 30 Portland State 13 (off)
Oregon 34 Boise State 20 (Ore -10)
Arizona 28 UCLA 24 (Ariz -3)
Georgia 27 Arizona State 17 (UGA -7)
Stanford 31 San Jose State 14 (Stan -8)