The Tailgater's Guide to Cougar Football is a weekly series, published every Thursday, designed to prepare you for the upcoming week's matchup - both on and off the field.
Washington St. Cougars (1-6, 0-4 Pac-10) at #12 Stanford Cardinal (5-1, 2-1 Pac-10)
Stanford Stadium, Palo Alto, CA. 2 p.m. Pacific
Television - Fox College Sports (ugh - I miss you already, Versus)
Radio - Cougar Sports ISP Radio Network
Stanford 39, WSU 13 (2009)
Why It Matters
Another week, another chance to watch the Cougs improve. How much remains to be seen, yet again, but the only sure thing seems to be that WSU isn't winning this game. Stanford has too much talent, and injuries are finally starting to have serious repercussions in the Cougar depth chart. Fortunately this week appears to be the last time this season we can make the guarantee the Cougs will lose.
I'm conflicted about Stanford as an opponent (and a soon-to-be division rival). I like them, in part because I'm jealous of people who go to Stanford and harbor some regrets about not applying there. I visited their campus for the first time a few weeks ago. It was gorgeous. The weather was perfect, the grass was perfectly manicured and there were a number of foreign tourists (tourists!) wandering the campus like I was doing.
At the center of WSU's campus, there is a big blue heart that has no meaning to the University and was some guy's way of celebrating his childhood in a hardware store (hence all the tools in the heart). If there were half a brain among the people who select the on-campus art at Washington State, the heart would be in the dumpster outside Dissmores. Instead it's prominently featured at a commonly visited part of campus.
Go into the central part of Stanford's campus, and there are Rodin sculptures. This is one of the stark contrasts between WSU and Stanford.
Having said that, I wouldn't trade being a Coug for being a Cardinal (tree?). Why? Apathy. Stanford's fans flat don't care about their teams (this is probably because they're climbing the corportate ladder at Cisco Systems or Apple or Google, and sports aren't worth your time when you can be busy jumping into pools of money, Scrooge McDuck style). And while I'm sure one or more angry Cardinal fans will point out in the comments they do care about their teams (and they are right), those people are either bored from schoolwork or a minority. Stanford grads have bigger fish to fry than caring about winning football games. That's good for them, and part of why I'm jealous. I'm going to be a lot more broken up about a loss this weekend than they would be.
Well maybe not this time... given the expectations going in.
Key Matchup - [Insert opponent's running back] versus [insert Cougar D-Line and/or Linebacking unit]
Andrew Luck, Stanford - Softy on KJR didn't believe me in August when I yelled at my radio in the car that Luck would be a better quarterback this season than Jake Locker (or maybe he just didn't hear). Now most everyone has come around to that line of thinking.
Alex Hoffman-Ellis, WSU - AHE accidentally started a fire while doing laundry this week. The lesson? Life is precious, as is the opportunity to tackle people on a football field.
Why WSU Might Win - Miracles?
Why Stanford Might Win - Andrew Luck is surprisingly mobile. You've heard a lot about his passing, but when the play breaks down he can scramble outside the pocket and do a lot of damage via the run. He's done it so far enough to earn the honor of being Stanford's second leading rusher. That's a problem for WSU, who have struggled to contain mobile quarterbacks for the better part of the last decade.
Recommended Local Activity - Golden Gate Bridge. It's really cliched, but I still enjoyed crossing it. It's rare in life something lives up to the hype like that.
Recommended Food - In-n-out Burger. This is pretty much my default food of choice for anywhere in California.
Gametime Snack of the Week - Cool Ranch Doritos. I feel like this is a food we as Americans take for granted, and yet they are still so good. Jose Lopez agrees!
Gametime Beer of the Week - Since recruiting against Stanford is all about status, show Cardinal fans you're high class with Deschutes Jubel 2010 (hat tip - Brian). It's the beer brewed once every ten years. Special.
Unfortunately, Stanford fans will be drinking beer so rare, only people making over $500,000 a year know about it.
Prediction - Stanford 36, WSU 15. Unusual numbers.
Remember, the only guarantee is that Reid Forrest is a better punter than your punter.
Enjoy the game, and as always, Go Cougs.