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Welcome to Cougar football season

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Hold onto your butts, it's Cougar football season.

Stephen Dunn

For the last 249 days, Washington State did not play a football game. That streak will finally come to an end today with the season opener against Rutgers.

Season openers are a great time, at least until kickoff. If you're like me, you've slowly been building your expectations during the offseason and are currently riding an unsustainable high of blind optimism. Sketchy pass defense? Ill-timed and frequent turnovers? Inability to finish drives with touchdowns? Those were all 2013 problems, this is 2014. Those blind hopes have been dashed quickly in recent years. WSU has won just three of its last 10 season openers and those wins came against Idaho State, Idaho and New Mexico.

But like I said, those are old problems, they obviously don't matter anymore, it's 2014.

So what will happen tonight? For one thing the ball is going to be in the air. If you think Mike Leach is going to come out running against a raw, untested secondary ... well I don't know what to tell you. There will be runs, sure, but they will be mixed in between at least 50 pass attempts. Beyond that, I really have no idea.

My early season optimism tells me Rutgers defenders are going to be seeing Connor Halliday in their nightmares after he shreds them for 500 passing yards and five touchdowns. The young WSU offensive line holds up well enough, Jamal Morrow and Gerard Wicks flash skills that cause us start making terrible thunder and lighting jokes. The defense still has liabilities, yet they are ones Gary Nova and Rutgers cannot exploit. WSU opens the game with a very Air Raid drive -- 13 plays, 80 yards capped with a Halliday's first touchdown -- and the floodgates open up from there. Luke Falk makes a fourth quarter appearance, taking a knee to seal a 45-21 WSU win.

The seasoned Cougar fan in me tells me it can never be that easy. It's Cougar football. It's the Seattle game. It can never be that easy. Instead, the game is a mix of up-and-down. Good Connor Halliday shows up. Bad Connor Halliday shows up. The defense has issues that lead us to think "how is Gary (expletive) Nova shredding us?" The Cougars have a one-possession lead late in the fourth quarter and give the ball back to Rutgers. We all know how well late one-possession leads turn out.

Even the realist in me thinks it will be a little more of option A than option B. It won't be long until we find out, the graviton is starting to spin.

How do you think the game will go?

Football:

Yakima Herald Republic | WSU Football: Senior Clark leads young, unproven secondary
Like just about every other college football team, Washington State enters its opener Thursday night against Rutgers with some pregnant questions, one of which is:

Rutgers: WSU resembles each of 3 spreads faced in 2013
Take a pinch of Fresno State, a smidgen of Houston and a dash of Southern Methodist.

Rutgers hoping to win field position battle against explosive Washington State | NJ.com
After every game, Kyle Flood will thumb through the statistics to pinpoint what factored in the result. Drive start is one of the key stats he often points to, and it stands to reason that the Rutgers football coach will be chalking over how far Washington State had to go on its possessions as much as any other variable in the wee hours of Friday morning.

Game 1 preview: Rutgers takes on Washington State in Seattle - On the Banks
Wazzu brings back almost all of their skill position talent from last season, while Rutgers has a secondary in flux. Is the situation as bad as it sounds?

Exploiting secondaries could be key for WSU, Rutgers - Spokesman.com - Aug. 27, 2014
At first glance it appears that two similar teams will open their season away from home in Seattle on Thursday. Rutgers finished last season 6-7 and lost its bowl game. So did Washington State.

Rutgers makes Big Ten debut against Washington St - seattlepi.com
Rutgers' debut as a member of the Big Ten Conference will likely be Washington State's farewell to Seattle.

Senior quarterbacks could be key players in WSU-Rutgers matchup | Bud Withers | The Seattle Times
The schools are a continent apart, one just outside the nation’s largest city, the other just outside Colfax.

WSU vs. Rutgers preview: Can Mike Leach get the Air Raid plundering? - Pacific Takes
Washington Sate will play Rutgers at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. Both teams have bad defenses, but the Cougar offense should score enough points for the victory.

Washington State Cougars say goodbye to annual Seattle game - ESPN
After 13 years of home-away-from-home games in Seattle, Washington State Cougars athletic director Bill Moos is pulling the plug on the Cougars' almost-yearly trek over the Cascade Mountains.

Cougars open season against Rutgers in Seattle | HeraldNet.com - Sports

At first glance it appears that two similar teams will open their season at CenturyLink field in Seattle today. Rutgers finished last season 6-7 and lost its bowl game. So did Washington State.

Men's Basketball:

Cougar Basketball Returns to Campus - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
The Washington State University men’s basketball team returned to campus Friday, Aug. 22 for the start of the fall semester, Monday, Aug. 25. During their first weekend back, the Cougars were busy with activities including the National Lentil Festival, a photo shoot and team barbeque.