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Let’s find a path to six wins for WSU

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Making the postseason should be the goal for the Cougars, and it seems like it’s a goal that’s within reach based on the schedule.

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Stanford v Washington State Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

Over the decades, making a bowl game has generally been the goal for the Washington State Cougars. That changed the last couple of years following 2015’s nine-win outburst, but 2018 marks a return to what we’re all familiar with: Looking at the schedule and trying to figure out where six wins are going to come from.

Las Vegas has pegged the Cougs’ win total at right around six; the last Bovada odds I saw in July had the over/under at 6.5, but you were only getting -150 on the under. SB Nation’s Bill Connelly used his S&P+ to project the Cougs at 6.5 wins based on recent history, returning talent, and recruiting rankings. SB Nation’s Jason Kirk, who did his preseason bowl projections, had the Cougs in a bowl game for his “boring” picks (Vegas baby!) but out in his “rowdy” version. The Spokesman-Review’s Theo Lawson went through it game by game and ended up at 6-6.

The consensus is that the margin for WSU is probably going to be thin this year, which means the Cougs are probably going to have to maximize the chances they’ve got. Scheduling makes more of a difference in college football than perhaps any other sports, and I think WSU’s actually is pretty favorable if all we’re talking about is a path to six wins:

  • Easy non-conference schedule: WSU should come out of this 3-0. But I don’t think anyone would be shocked by a loss to Wyoming.
  • Five home Pac-12 games: Being a young squad, playing at home is going to give a little extra emotional juice, and I like the fact that they get a bunch of shots at it. Beyond that, most of these games are against beatable teams; I started assuming the Apple Cup would be a loss a couple of years ago, but the rest of them? I wouldn’t be at all shocked if WSU was able to find two wins out of Utah, Oregon, Cal and Arizona. I don’t think any of those four teams are inherently superior to the Cougars. WSU has beaten perennially overrated Utah three straight times, I remain unconvinced that Oregon is ready to break out with its third coach in three years, Cal probably isn’t breaking out, and while Arizona brings Kahlil Tate to town, they’ll be doing it on Nov. 17 when it’s about 25 degrees outside.
  • Winnable conference road games: When a team searching for six wins, I think it’s an advantage plays its worst conference opponents on the road. Oregon State and Colorado qualify — WSU should be able to get at least one of those.

Is it really that unlikely that WSU would win all three non-conference games, get two home Pac-12 wins, and win just one game on the road? Or, if they lose to Wyoming (we all know Mike Leach’s record in openers at WSU), is it implausible that they’d get two home wins and beat both Oregon State and Colorado? Neither of these scenarios involves needing a massive upset.

I’d feel worse about this season if they had Oregon State and Colorado at home while having to travel to, say, Cal and Arizona. But it sets up the other way, which I think is really favorable when you’re just trying to get over the six-win hurdle.

Thoughts?

WSU Links

Attrition may have changed the appearance of Washington State’s defensive line, but not the mindset | The Spokesman-Review
This is the time of the year teams devote to establishing depth and finding concrete solutions at every spot on the depth chart. But D-line coach Jeff Phelps is dealing with the same problem a puzzle-builder might if he/she kept losing track of the small cardboard pieces.

August 22, 2018 - An early look at WSU's 1st opponent with Wyoming beat writer Robert Gagliardi, plus M's news | The Press Box, with Larry Weir | Spreaker
The Press Box, with Larry Weir - Sports talk from The Spokesman-Review.

Picking the Cougars: Projections for all 12 of Washington State’s 2018 football games | The Spokesman-Review
What’s in store for the 2018 Cougars? We take a look at how each of the 12 regular-season games could pan out, with score predictions and commentary.

Washington State football: Cougars' coach Mike Leach chats about special teams battles, preferred juice flavors
WSU coach hints Gardner Minshew will be the starting QB

Washington State football: Nick Begg confident in WSU's D-line despite depth concerns
New faces could help ease the loss of three veterans

Washington State football: Cougars assistant coach Dave Nichol compliments crew's attitude, work ethic
Relationships between players and assistant coaches are vital to team chemistry

#MTTop40: Great Falls CMR's Ryan Leaf 'unbelievably talented' QB; Gary Fox a Billings West great | MontanaSports.com
Following impressive careers on Montana’s Class AA football fields, Ryan Leaf and Gary Fox would re-write program records at the quarterback position at Washington State and Wyoming, respectively.

Video: Washington State running backs coach Eric Mele post practice Aug. 23 - The Spokesman-Review - Aug. 23, 2018

Video: Washington State cornerbacks coach Darcel McBath post practice Aug. 23 - The Spokesman-Review - Aug. 23, 2018

Bowl projections 2018: Compare the fun and boring versions - SBNation.com
Las Vegas: San Diego State vs. Washington State

Soccer’s Match With Iowa Moved to 9 A.M. - Washington State University
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Due to inclement weather in the forecast, the Washington State soccer match against Iowa Friday has been changed to a 9 a.m. PT kick off.

Volleyball Begins 2018 in Raleigh - Washington State University
The Cougars take on VCU and NC State to start the new season on Saturday.

First Roadtrip Sends No. 22 Soccer to Minnesota - Washington State University
The Cougars take on the Big 10 in a pair of matchups over the weekend.

College Football Links

Urban Meyer press conference Ohio State Buckeyes sets wrong tone
Urban Meyer and Ohio State AD Gene Smith found time to apologize to Buckeye Nation on Wednesday night, but not to Courtney Smith. And that proves they haven't learned anything.

Urban Meyer’s suspension has roiled Buckeye Nation, and the worst is yet to come - The Washington Post
Conflicted Ohio State fans “have to prepare yourself mentally” when traveling to away games. It is expected other Big Ten fans will take note.

Ohio State summary of findings casts doubt upon coach Urban Meyer
A 23-page report compiled by investigators working on behalf of Ohio State shows they had reasons to doubt coach Urban Meyer was being completely forthcoming during their investigation of his handling of a domestic abuse allegation against Zach Smith.

Urban Meyer and the disease of unearned loyalty - SBNation.com
One of the most powerful coaches in sports protected an assistant overrun with red flags. Why?

A day-by-day guide to Kickoff Week
Think you're ready for Week 1? Here's everything you need to know about the five-day opening extravaganza.

As Maryland AD, Anderson used school funds to defend football players in sex assault case - The Washington Post
Revelations explain the absence of Kevin Anderson, who resigned in April after six-month sabbatical.

Shea Patterson of Michigan Wolverines ready for 'once in a lifetime' experience
Shea Patterson is ready for his "once in a lifetime" role as starting quarterback for the Wolverines -- especially since he wasn't sure if he'd play at all this season.

College football picks: Predicting every 2018 Week 0 FBS game - SBNation.com
MWC rival Wyoming could have its hands full in Las Cruces in a game defined by defense — NMSU’s was solid and returns almost everyone, and Wyoming’s was excellent and returns quite a bit. The offenses ... less so.