The Tailgater's Guide to Cougar Football is a weekly series, published every Thursday (except when it's on Friday), designed to prepare you for the upcoming week's matchup - both on and off the field.
Washington State Cougars (1-3, 0-1 Pacific-10) at UCLA Bruins (2-2, 0-1 Pacific-10)
Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA; 12:30 p.m. Pacific
Television - FSN Northwest
Radio - Cougar Sports ISP Radio Network
UCLA 43, WSU 7
Why It Matters
Um, I don't know... pride, maybe? Let's go with pride.
I think I've given up on trying to sell any Cougar football matchup at this point. I was trying to think back to last season's game against UCLA - a game that I attended - and I couldn't remember what happened. Repeat: this was a game I was at in person and I can't remember a thing about it. Everyone has their own personal indicators of the program falling apart, and one of mine is being so apathetic about a game that I can't remember it a year later. Heck, I remember minutae about times we played Idaho earlier in the decade. Or at the very least I remember who I went to the game with or any remarkable plays that happened.
So this is where we are. I think we all know why we watch the games at this point. To see how long the Cougs stay in it, and the hope of either: a) seeing a remarkable play by someone like Marquess Wilson or b) the off chance WSU might keep the game close or win (yes, there is that chance).
We, as fans, have put our hope on the equivalent of a 40-1 longshot in a horse race. And we have eight races left to see if the underdog can conjure up some magic.
Key Matchup - Jonathan Franklin versus the WSU linebackers. We discussed on the podcast this week (that unfortunately will never make it to the airwaves due to technical difficulties - sad trombone noise here) that the Cougs have no chance of beating UCLA if they can't stop the run. And stopping the run involves the ability to make a tackle when running backs get beyond the first level of defense.
Even then, it might not matter. Kevin Prince is comically awful sometimes, yes, but the fact is he played like a Heisman candidate last year in Pulllman. I had to look up the boxscore to confirm that happened.
Kevin Prince, UCLA - You thought I was going with Franklin, didn't you? Prince is the real key because he can singlehandedly make this game a laugher or keep the Cougs' defense in it.
Reid Forrest, WSU - No explanation necessary.
Why WSU Might Win - Nope. Not happening.
Why UCLA Might Win - Rather than go into detail, I'd like to use this space to point out that Rick Neuheisal was once technically Washington state's highest paid employee. It's OK to continue to hate him.
Recommended Local Activity - Disneyland! I visited Disneyland a few years back, and to this day I can not comprehend people going there without taking advantage of the fastpass system. It basically allows you to skip things like the two hour lines for Splash Mountain by simply doing some planning ahead. Also, go on Sunday morning. Trust me on this.
Don't forget about the California Adventure, which somewhat makes up for the fact Disneyland isn't Disney World. Don't go to Universal Studios, though. Universal Studios is lame.
Recommended Food - In-n-out Burger. I don't know what I love more: the simple menu, or the fact that they have a secret menu.
I had my first In-n-out experience on a trip to the Bay Area, and the first time I went I was underwhelmed. Of course that may have had to do with being surrounded by 100,000 other people at Fisherman's wharf. The next day we had it for lunch near the SFO airport, and it was perfection.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line: free food for Grady]
This week's selection is Trader Joe's coconut shrimp, which is really good if you pair it with some sweet chili sauce from your local Asian supermarket.
Gametime Beer of the Week - Pilsner Urquell. If you ever visit the Czech Republic, you'll notice beer is incredibly cheap (non-Euro-using countries woo!) and, like most European countries, unbelievably stingy about giving you free water at restaurants. Most restaurants actually make you pay for bottled water, which comes in a glass bottle (because glass tastes better, dummy) and costs maybe three or four bucks when you order it.
The moral of this story is that in the Czech Republic beer is usually cheaper than water.
Prediction - UCLA 52, WSU 8
Remember, the only guarantee is that Reid Forrest is a better punter than your punter.
Enjoy the game, and as always, Go Cougs.