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Cougs need to do more than win against Portland State

A week ahead of conference play, the WSU football team needs to dominate against a lower division opponent if confidence is to be restored.

Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

The first Saturday game day is here and WSU will be searching for its first win in its first game of the season at Martin Stadium against Portland State. For Coug fans making the trek to Pullman or staying home to watch the game, the expectations are likely much higher than just pulling out a win. After two consecutive upset losses to two of the lighter opponents on the schedule, WSU needs to win convincingly against the only I-AA opponent on the schedule if any amount faith is to be restored to a weary fan base. That means putting a solid game together in all facets of the game and not just playing respectably well on one side of the ball.

With just seven days separating the Cougs from what is likely to be their toughest opponent of the season, Oregon, the team needs to do its best to work out all the chinks in their armor. The depth chart released on Monday indicates that the coaching staff is searching for answers by moving around personnel at most of the secondary positions. Three true freshmen, Sulaiman Hameed, Pat Porter, and Marcellus Pippins have all climbed their way into the two-deep this week.

The last time that PSU came to Pullman was in 2008. WSU was able to come away from that game with a convincing 48-9 victory with what arguably may have been the worst team in school history. The Vikings were not total pushovers in their conference that season as they went on to upset No. 11 Eastern Washington two weeks later in the rivalry that is known as the Dam Cup. Still, the difference between a bottom-feeding BCS team and a mediocre FCS team was pretty clear that week despite the fact that the Cougs lost two quarterbacks in the game to serious injuries, one of which was career ending. Redshirt freshman Marshall Lobbestael entered the 2008 game as the WSU's third-string quarterback and threw for 149 yards and two touchdowns. His efforts earned him Pac-10 Player of the Week. The 2008 game was the only game the schools have met in their history. WSU is scheduled to play PSU again in next season's opening game.

PSU is likely to enter the game with some degree of confidence that it can compete with a Pac-12 school after their 29-14 loss to Oregon State just two weeks ago. The Vikings actually led the Beavs going into the half 14-13 only to be shutout in the second half. It's hard to imagine the level of moaning that will fill Martin Stadium if the Cougs find themselves in a similar situation as OSU this week at halftime. WSU needs to come out of the gate strong. PSU followed up their loss to OSU by taking care of some business of their own with a 45-38 win against Western Oregon, a Division II school, last week.

It's difficult to get all that excited about a game in which your team can only disappoint. Another 40-plus point victory will not reassure fans that all the problems seen in the first two weeks are solved. On the other hand, a narrow margin of victory or, God forbid, a loss will only serve to magnify the concerns that most WSU fans are feeling right now after the losses to Rutgers and Nevada. Regardless of the lack of excitement heading into to Saturday's game, all the basics of a Football Saturday in Pullman will be there: we'll still meet up with friends, we'll still enjoy food and beverage, and we'll still get a chance to sing the Fight Song. So enjoy the game experience and new-look Martin Stadium, keep the faith, and Go Cougs!

Cougar Marching Band

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>The WSU band just walked by our tailgate wearing underwear, lingerie etc. only in Pullman. <a href="">#GoCougs</a></p>&mdash; PuyallupCoug (@PuyallupCoug) <a href="">September 13, 2014</a></blockquote>

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