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Assessing the remainder of Cougar Football’s 2017 season

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Let’s take a look ahead

NCAA Football: Washington State at California Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in a long time, I rented a house for my latest assignment to the Tampa area. Atop my mailbox, there’s a flag mount where I put my WSU flag every game day. A couple weeks ago, some old guy with little else to do than check the mail and vote, saw me putting up my flag. He stopped his car and told me that flags weren’t supposed to stick out into the street. (my flag might be six inches over the gutter portion, which means you’d practically have to drive on to my grass to hit it)

I waved, said “thanks,” and left the flag right where it was. After all, this isn’t my house, so I can’t exactly move things around without permission. Plus, I flew that flag every game day last year, and nobody said a word. Friday, I put up the flag when I got home from work and settled in to watch WSU get poleaxed. Saturday, when my wife went outside to put something in the trash can before the garbage man came, she noticed that someone had pulled my flag out and put it in the garbage can.

There are lots of ways I could go here, but my first thought was that this loser must have watched the game Friday, and inferred that the garbage can was the best place for the flag. And you know what? I couldn’t construct an argument otherwise. So I figure that’s a metaphor for what we should do with today’s post. Let’s throw last Friday in the trash and try to figure out where this season is headed. Plus, like I said to another commenter yesterday, there isn’t enough room on the internet for the “Ugly” section of my usual Sunday format.

Saturday, October 21, Colorado at WSU

  • Percentage chance of a WSU win: 75%
  • Biggest reasons for hope: The Cougs are back in the friendly confines, it’s homecoming, and Colorado isn’t very good.
  • Biggest reason for worry: Colorado’s quarterback, running back and top wide receiver are all far better than what we saw at Cal Friday, and #SpeedD didn’t exactly impose its will in Berkeley.

Saturday, October 28, WSU at Arizona

  • Percentage chance of a WSU win: 40%
  • Biggest reason for hope: Leach still hasn’t lost in Tucson, and Arizona isn’t playing dominant defense.
  • Biggest reason for worry: You may have noticed that Khalil Tate is setting the conference on fire, and will present major problems.

Saturday, November 4, Stanford at WSU

  • Percentage chance of a WSU win: 45%
  • Biggest reason for hope: WSU will certainly be confident after last year’s beatdown in Palo Alto and Stanford has, at best, a so-so quarterback situation.
  • Biggest reason for worry: Bryce Love is running roughshod over the conference, Stanford is catching fire, and that huge offensive line will be facing an undersized WSU front playing its 10th straight game.

Saturday, November 11, WSU at Utah

  • Percentage chance of a WSU win: 40%
  • Biggest reason for hope: Utah is who Utah is, an average team that won’t beat itself but also won’t do much to set itself above its conference peers.
  • Biggest reason for worry: Utah is a tough place to play, and Luke Falk has never played there. Also, Tyler Huntley will probably be back at quarterback, and he’s way better than Troy Williams. Oh, and the offensive coordinator who helped shred Alex Grinch’s defense in last year’s opener is now at Utah.

Saturday, November 25, WSU at Washington

  • Percentage chance of a WSU win:

So what are WSU’s chances of being 10-1 headed into the Apple Cup? Just above 5%. My most optimistic guess is they’ll beat Colorado and steal a win somewhere else, putting them at 8-3 heading into the Apple Cup, 8-4 after the Apple Cup, and headed to the Bay Area bowl game in late December. In other words, settling right into the Leach Zone.

I will admit the the gloomy forecast is almost solely due to the completely disappointing performance of the offensive line. There has been a decided drop in their production, and only Cole Madison is living up to his preseason hype. The rest, including Cody O’Connell, haven’t come close to matching last year’s performance level. Add to that the fact that Luke Falk is a shadow of his former self, and you have yourself another average season.

The real pisser is that, after what we saw in Tempe Saturday - I say “we” even though I saw none of this game and watched less than 10 minutes of football Saturday - WSU blew a golden opportunity to establish itself as the team to beat in the Pac-12. More and more, it appears that team is Stanford. Unfortunately for us, WSU looks less and less like the team that will take advantage.

The counter to that? Well, just take a look at the results of this past weekend, which resemble a post-battle scene in Braveheart. If this weekend showed us anything, it’s that this game is week-to-week and nobody has any idea what will happen, especially some idiot in Central Florida. Go Cougs

Football

The leftovers: Notes, quotes and nuggets from Washington State’s 37-3 loss to Cal | The Spokesman-Review
Emptying the notebook after a dark night for the Cougars at Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium.

John Blanchette: Mike Leach steals the show ... after the game | The Spokesman-Review
The most remarkable thing about Washington State’s not-ready-for-even-subprime-time play in getting beat 373-3, or something along those lines, on Friday night wasn’t the 17 turnovers or the 29 sacks or the 12 Cal students who stuck around to, uh, storm the field. It was the muted reaction.

Soccer

The football team wasn’t the only one to leave Berkeley with a loss.

WSUCougars.com | Washington State University Athletics
An early mistake cost the Cougars a goal in the 6' and forced Washington State (7-5-2, 2-4-0) to chase the lead in Berkeley, eventually falling 2-0 to the No. 18 ranked Golden Bears (11-2-1, 4-1-1) on the road Saturday afternoon at Edwards Field.

Beer

Best beer I had this week: Stumbled upon some 21st Amendment Toaster Pastry that was hiding in the back of the beer fridge. Still great!

The History of Steam Beer, America’s Original Craft Brew - Eater
How Anchor Steam went from San Francisco curiosity to brewing legend.

Non-Sports

Inside North Korea, and Feeling the Drums of War - The New York Times
A visit to the reclusive country reveals the perilous moment we’re in.