The question in the headline is one I've been thinking about a lot this week. Both in terms of the current season and the long-term future of the program, there is a lot riding on this game.
First let's look at this season. If you are one of the Cougar fans who still believes the team has a chance to make a bowl game, you likely have this game circled as a must win. WSU is favored against a Pac10/12 opponent for the first time in a long while. They are riding a two game losing streak and playing a "home" game. I don't think many will find three more wins on the schedule if the Cougars drop this one.
Looking to the future, this is also an important game for the coaching staff. I have no idea if there is actually a magic number of wins that will allow Paul Wulff to avoid walking papers, but I do think he needs to win more than three games to stick around. Especially considering the emphasis the WSU administration puts on the Seattle game, this one might go a long way to deciding who is coaching on the Cougar sideline next season.
Jeff summed it up well in a recent Cougar Sports Weekly
No matter how you slice it, Saturday's game is enormous. If the Cougs lose in front of a large Seattle crowd against a team that's played as poorly as Oregon State has this year, expect the vultures to start circling.
I'm likely overstating things a bit, but excluding Apple Cups I'm not sure there has been more riding on a single WSU football game since the 2003 Holiday Bowl.
This and that from WSU - SportsLink - Spokesman.com - Oct. 18, 2011
Couldn't get to Paul Wulff's media conferences before we headed out to practice, so now we're playing catch up. We have what he had to say along with a note about an injury to an offensive lineman. Read on.
Pac-12 notes: WSU, UW among surprises - Spokesman.com - Oct. 18, 2011
PULLMAN – It’s basically the halfway point of the college football season, which seems to be a good time to assess what’s happened since early September in the Pac-12. There have been easily foreseen story lines.
Quick look at Week 8 games - Pac-12 Blog - ESPN
Oregon State (1-5, 1-2) vs. Washington State (3-3, 1-2) 10:30 p.m. FSN: Game will be played at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. Washington State's only conference win last year came at Oregon State, 31-14, which ended a 16-game conference losing streak. Cougars quarterback Jeff Tuel made his first start of the season at Stanford last week after fracturing his clavicle in the opener. The Beavers are off to their worst start since 1996, when they finished 2-9.
Cougars | Live chat with WSU's athletic director Bill Moos | Seattle Times Newspaper
Bill Moos, Washington State's athletic director, discussed the renovation of Martin Stadium, Saturday's 7:30 p.m. game in Seattle against Oregon State and football coach Paul Wulff in a live chat with readers Tuesday.
Beaver Football: Tuel is 'that X-Factor' | Sports | Eugene News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News | KVAL CBS 13
Corvallis, Ore-- The Beavers defense limps into the Washington State game as seven different key contributors are dinged up.
WSU Notebook: WSU bowl hopes could take a hit on Saturday with a loss " Kitsap Sun
PULLMAN — Halfway through their season, the Washington State Cougars are halfway toward their goal of qualifying for a bowl game.
Wulff pleased with Washington State's play - seattlepi.com
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — At the midpoint of the 2011 season, Washington State coach Paul Wulff is pleased with the way his team has performed.
Oregon State football: Riley says one of the keys to stopping WSU is containing Tuel's running (video) | OregonLive.com
With a very mobile Jeff Tuel back at quarterback for Washington State, the Beavers have to be very mindful of what Tuel can do with his feet with the two teams play Saturday night at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
Washington State AD announces a two-game football series with BYU | BYU Sports | The Salt Lake Tribune
There has been no announcement yet from BYU (as of 9 a.m. Tuesday morning), but that long-rumored BYU-Washington State football series is apparently going to happen.
OUDaily.com | COLUMN: Schools should stop pursuing new football uniforms
But Washington State took home the blue ribbon for ugliest jersey this week, a flat gray set that would be indistinguishable as Wazzu without the cougar logo on the helmet. Never has a uniform that was so boring been, at the same time, so ugly. If the 30-point beatdown WSU received at the hands of Stanford wasn’t embarrassing enough, the pewter table clothes the Cougars had to take it in should have done the trick. It’s so bad, ESPN recently took a trip to the set of E!’s "Fashion Police."