Good morning. Only one weekend separates us and college football. This is a positive development! So even though the season hasn't started, this seems like another great time to forecast how the Cougar season will play out.
Before the idiot suits at ESPN got rid of Pac-12 blogger extraordinaire Ted Miller, he wrote an annual Best/Worst case scenario for each Pac-12 team. They were more tongue-in-cheek than hard-hitting analysis, but they were quite entertaining. Unfortunately, Ted abandoned the exercise a couple years ago.
Enter Jon Wilner, the Pac-12's shining light in an increasingly barren landscape of reporting. Mr. Wilner took a much more analytical look than Miller used to, and his scenarios for WSU are both feasible.
Best case: 11-2. Picked a distant third in the North despite the return of Luke Falk and nine defensive starters, the Cougars make their skeptics look bad. The running game combines with the Air Raid to form an unstoppable attack, while Hercules Mata’afa anchors a stout defense. The home-heavy, early-season schedule provides the launch point WSU needs to win the North and the conference title, but two losses block a path to the CFP.
I'll be honest, you'll probably see me dunk from the free throw line before the Cougs win 11 games, especially with such a suspect defense. I have to believe Wilner sees those two losses coming to USC and Washington. I see those games as the only two that WSU has a less than 25% chance of winning, so it's not entirely myopic to believe WSU can get to 10 wins during the regular season. In that scenario, Washington would have two losses, since a win over WSU would not earn them any sort of tiebreaker.
This also would mean WSU gets revenge on USC in the title game, and earns a trip to the Fiesta Bowl. Yes, Fiesta Bowl. The Rose Bowl is one of the CFP games this season, so unless the Pac-12 champs are in the CFP, they'll go to Glendale, as Oregon did after their conference title in 2001.
As for the other end...
Worst case: 6-6. In the final season of his stellar career, Falk takes one hit too many and is lost for a critical chunk of the season, shackling the Air Raid and making life much easier for opponents. The pressure ramps up on WSU’s defense, which slowly wilts as the road trips mount over the season’s second half. The Cougars sink to the bottom tier of the North, leaving fans to wonder if they’ll ever see a division title.
Good news and bad news with this one. The good news: A few short years ago, WSU fans would have seen 6-6 as the best case scenario. In that sense, the new regime has raised the bar pretty significantly. The bad news lies in that last sentence. While WSU has indeed come a long way, it will take every break they can muster to win a division title. Is this the year? Stranger things have happened. Not many, but still.
To me, this seems like a seven-to-eight win team. I'm really going out on a limb here, considering that the over/under on WSU wins is 7.5. The best news of all on this Sunday? Starting in two weeks, we begin to find the answer.
2017-18 college football bowl projections: Preseason calls for each of the games - CBSSports.com
Leach vs. Holgo in the desert would be pretty entertaining.
Pac-12 football: Roundup of the latest news from training camp
Six developments of note from around the conference.
Pac-12 South preview: Best- and worst-case scenarios for each team
Our steady ramp to late August continues with a two-part examination of the extremes for each team.
College football's best quarterbacks are in the Pac-12 | SI.com
When evaluating any quarterback at the controls of a turbocharged system like Mike Leach’s Air Raid, it’s tempting to question whether the credit for his gaudy statistics should go to the system or to the player.
Preseason top 25: Scouting reports of Alabama, FSU | SI.com
Because they’re multiple, the offense is guessing, and that causes quarterbacks to make mistakes. The trade-off is that sometimes you can get caught in the wrong defense. That’s how big plays happen.
Friday Five: The lies college football coaches tell during training camp - CBSSports.com
Talking season comes right before training camp, but it doesn't end with the start of practice. No, instead, talking season morphs into a different kind of communication.
Best beer I had this week: My time in Virginia is winding to a close, and I wanted to get to Richmond before I left. Check. I headed up on Friday for a quick beer pilgrimage, and was not disappointed. Richmond is a secretly-awesome beer city. Stone has a gigantic facility there, and there are scores of smaller places that make great brews.
But the best beer to be had in Richmond, from a variety standpoint, is found in a...Vietnamese restaurant? You read that right. The founders of Mekong restaurant have a son who loves Belgian beer. He stocked their little place with all kinds of Trappist ales, etc. Over time, he started bringing in craft beers from around the country. Today, Mekong has been voted one of America's best beer bars in the U.S. several times over. Only in America.
The best beer I had there was Weldwerks Juicy Bits IPA. Nearly all of the Richmond beers I had were outstanding. If you're a beer nerd, Richmond is a great out-of-the-way beer city. The honey ginger chicken that accompanied my Juicy Bits IPA was also excellent.
As for the article below, it bummed me out. As I've said before, I will never find fault with a small business owner who takes advantage of a chance take finances off of his or her list of concerns. However, Funky Buddha makes such outstanding beer that I'm a little disappointed in the fact that it'll now be situated next to goddamn Corona. I'll still drink Funky Buddha product, though. It's too good to pass up.
Corona's $7.3 billion parent company acquired a beloved craft brewer — and furious customers are threatening to ditch the beer
Another beloved craft brewer has been acquired by a beer industry giant.
No article this week. Instead, I decided to link a couple podcasts I found fascinating. I'm sure most of you have been on the receiving end of one of these scam phone calls, in which somebody from overseas calls you and attempts to scare you into buying useless anti-virus protection. I had about 15 minutes of fun with one of these criminals when I was at my parents' house a couple years ago.
Anyway, they called the wrong guy in the podcasts below. The length to which the podcast hosts go to expose these frauds will amaze you. Both episodes are worth your time.
#102 Long Distance - Reply All by Gimlet Media
This week, a telephone scammer makes a terrible mistake. He calls Alex Goldman.
#103 Long Distance, Part II - Reply All by Gimlet Media
This week, Alex and Damiano take a trip. This is the conclusion of last week’s episode, Long Distance.