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Looking back on Cougar Football 2015

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Let's take a brief look back at how the Cougar season has gone so far.

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Cougar fans. As Sunday dawns, our outlook as fans of a certain football team is certainly a bit brighter than it was 24 hours ago. Why? Well, as ESPN's Kyle Bonagura tweeted out Saturday night, the Holiday Bowl is a definite possibility for WSU. If not the Holiday, the Foster Farms Bowl is also in play. This is a ray of hope for the many among our fan base who do not want to see the Cougs head to El Paso (Spanish for: The Paso) on 26 December.

After the roof caved in on WSU in Husky Stadium, most fans had resigned themselves to WSU ending up in either El Paso or Las Vegas for bowl season. While most fans prefer Vegas, people smarter than me realize that it would mean WSU losing practice time, which is a huge deal, especially for the younger players.

On a personal level, I'm fine with El Paso over Vegas for that reason, and because life and job got in the way of me going anywhere to see the Cougs this year. I am really hoping for San Diego, though, because I'd love to see legions of Coug fans make a trek south. After so many years in the dark, by god we all deserve it.

With that, I'm going to take a quick look back on this remarkable season, because there's a lot to look forward to, with a bowl game in the near future and possibly big things to come after that.

Preseason: If a couple things break our way, this team might get to 6-6, but I think the season ends at 4-8, and Leach will need to produce a bowl team in 2016 or it'll be time to move on. But at least they'll start 1-0!

Portland State: Welp! Pretty sure I'm not renewing my season tickets. The return on investment isn't worth it, especially since I'm lucky to make it to one game per season.

Rutgers: What a great finish, but WSU led 20-6 and should have put the game away. Plus, Rutgers is in disarray and still could have won the game. Thrilled for the win, but there are still major issues on defense and special teams.

Wyoming: Wyoming might be the worst team in the country, and WSU didn't look much better. The defense stepped up in the second half, but these guys still haven't put together a team effort. 4-8 may have been optimistic.

Bye: What a pleasant weekend.

Cal: Once again, for what seems like to one hundredth time, WSU lost a game it should have won. Special teams still sucks, and the defense couldn't prevent a conversion on 3rd and 36. This season is not going to end well.

Intermission story - So I rented a car to drive to Tampa for a few days. The dude behind the counter is apparently one of those thousands of people who park cars for Enterprise after earning a college degree. He sees my WSU shirt and says, "Looks like another rough year." I respond, "Well, they're 2-2, it isn't THAT bad."

So he takes me to the car, and as he's set to head back to the counter, he hits me with a "Go Beavs." Uhh, what? I mean, if there's one school in the conference that we have "scoreboard" on, isn't it Oregon State? Anyway, I still can't believe an OSU fan was talking smack about WSU, regardless of the series' recent results.

Oregon: HOLY S**T THE COUGS WON AT OREGON. OFFENSE LIT IT UP IN OVERTIME AND THE DEFENSE MADE A HUGE STOP WHEN IT HAD TO THIS IS AWESOME.

Oregon State: Oddly enough, this was the game that turned the corner for me. It seemed like the type of game WSU often lost, just when expectations were getting amped up. Instead, they came out and did what good teams do. They blew the doors off a clearly inferior team.

Arizona: The Cougs may have been an underdog, but I expected them to win. They did exactly that, and in the process, made it known that these weren't the same old Cougars. You better bring your best effort if you want to beat them.

Stanford: I was worried that Stanford would grind the defense to dust. Didn't happen. A play here or there, and the Cougs are in control of the Pac-12 North. Damn.

Arizona State: First Quarter - Welp! Rest of the game - Wow, what a response. The team could have folded after an awful start. Instead, they kept swinging, and blew ASU's doors off down the stretch. They also did it while missing their best offensive lineman.

UCLA: This team is special. What an incredibly gutty effort in all three phases. Defense tightened up in the red zone, offense scored when it had to and special teams was solid.

Colorado: Another mark of a solid team. WSU was supposed to dispatch of an inferior opponent, and it did so without even allowing a touchdown. Oh, and the conference's best quarterback left the field on a stretcher. This is not good.

Washington: Woulda, coulda, shoulda. Too many missed opportunities early turned into an avalanche of mistakes the rest of the way. It's pretty incredible how many times the roof caves in on WSU in this game, while it caves in on UW about once every 30 years. Once again, WSU entered the game as the better team and left with a loss.

On a personal note, this is the one week per year when I do not miss living anywhere near Washington. Unlike many of you, I don't have to put up with any crap from UW fans, Jack Husky or otherwise. Despite the humiliation on Friday, there is way more to be happy about this season than not. I can't let what happened in the Apple Cup wholly diminish what has been a great ride.

So here's to picking up a ninth win in a preferably sunny location in December. Go Cougs

Football

WSU plays waiting game for a bowl invitation - Spokesman.com - Nov. 28, 2015
Once the conference championship games have been played and the playoff bracket determined, some bowl game or other will send the Cougars an invitation, which they will accept.

Losing the Apple Cup leaves the Cougars losing some of their bowl appeal | The Seattle Times
Washington State no longer looks to be the darling of the Holiday and Alamo bowls, but the Foster Farms Bowl and the Sun Bowl now lead the list of possible destinations

Basketball

Men’s basketball: Big first half sends Cougars past Texas Southern - Spokesman.com - Nov. 28, 2015
The first half saw the Cougars shoot 60 percent from the floor and hold the Tigers to just ten baskets and 26 points. But things changed in the second half. The Cougars got away from the system that gave them a dominant lead at halftime.

Hawkinson and Iroegbu Lead Cougars over Tigers - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
Josh Hawkinson scored 20 points and Ike Iroegbu added 19 to lead Washington State past Texas Southern, 77-65 on Saturday night to go to 4-0 to start the season.

Beer

Here's why Pabst Brewing isn't afraid of the craft beer movement - Business Insider
Pabst may not be afraid of craft beers. However, I am definitely afraid of a world in which I have to drink Pabst.

Non-Sports

WWII Hero Credits Luck and Chance in Foiling Hitler’s Nuclear Ambitions - The New York Times
For a man who saved the world, or at least helped ensure that Adolf Hitler never got hold of a nuclear bomb, 96-year-old Joachim Ronneberg has a surprisingly unheroic view of the forces that shape history.