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The CougCenter staff predicts the 2021 season

How is the this season going to play out? Let’s see what the experts* think.

Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

This is the latest installment in our series of stories previewing the 2020 Washington State Cougars football season. For other installments, click here.


Let’s be honest: Picking Washington State’s games this season is more of a crapshoot than it is in just about any other season. Typically, we combine the results of the previous season with the returning talent to get a ballpark gauge of how good a team might or might not be.

But with the last season being ... whatever the 2020 season was? None of us really knows anything. Still: That won’t stop us from trying to guess how it will play out! Here are our authors’ predictions for the season.

2021 Staff Predictions

Name USU PSU USC @Utah @Cal OSU Stanford BYU @ASU @Oregon Arizona @UW Total
Name USU PSU USC @Utah @Cal OSU Stanford BYU @ASU @Oregon Arizona @UW Total
Mark Sandritter WSU WSU USC Utah Cal WSU WSU BYU ASU Oregon Arizona UW 4-8
Nick Nordi WSU WSU USC Utah Cal WSU Stanford BYU ASU Oregon Arizona UW 3-9
Zane Murfitt WSU WSU USC WSU Cal WSU Stanford WSU ASU Oregon WSU UW 6-6
Michael Preston WSU WSU USC Utah Cal WSU WSU BYU ASU Oregon WSU UW 5-7
Jack Ellis WSU WSU USC Utah WSU WSU WSU WSU ASU Oregon WSU WSU 8-4
Kyle Sherwood WSU WSU USC Utah Cal WSU WSU WSU ASU Oregon Arizona WSU 6-6
Kevin Dudley WSU WSU USC Utah Cal WSU Stanford WSU ASU Oregon WSU UW 5-7
Jeff Collier WSU WSU USC Utah Cal WSU Stanford BYU ASU Oregon Arizona UW 3-9
Jeff Nusser WSU WSU USC Utah Cal OSU Stanford WSU ASU Oregon WSU UW 4-8
Brian Anderson WSU WSU USC Utah WSU WSU WSU BYU ASU Oregon WSU UW 6-6
Jesse Cassino WSU WSU USC Utah Cal WSU WSU BYU WSU Oregon WSU UW 6-6
PJ Kendall WSU WSU USC Utah Cal WSU WSU BYU ASU Oregon WSU UW 5-7
Emma Weightwoman WSU WSU WSU Utah Cal WSU Stanford WSU WSU WSU Arizona UW 7-5
Scott Cresswell WSU WSU USC Utah Cal WSU WSU WSU WSU Oregon WSU WSU 8-4

Michael Preston (5-7)

WSU gets the benefit of what should be a couple of easy non-conference games, but there’s just enough tough ones on the schedule to miss out on a bowl. I’m honestly going to be more relieved than happy when they finally win a damn Apple Cup.

Mark Sandritter (4-8)

This season gives me strong 2012 vibes with an unsettled quarterback situation, a struggling defense and a loss to BYU. The only difference is there will be no Apple Cup miracle in 2021.

Jack Ellis (8-4)

In my time as an undergraduate, WSU went 18-3 at home. This trend continues when the best fans in the Pac-12 return to Martin Stadium. However, WSU cannot reclaim the magic of 2017 and fall to eventual conference champions USC. The Cougars break the curse and take back the Apple Cup, Jimmy Lake resigns in disgrace, and WSU plays in the almighty Jimmy Kimmel Bowl a week before Christmas.

Jeff Nusser (4-8)

There are just too many red flags for me to feel great about this season’s prospects. One of the things we’ve taken for granted for years now is excellent quarterback play, and there are reasons to be hugely skeptical that we’ll get that. I think that limits the potential of the offense, and I don’t think the defense improves as much as it will need to in order to counteract that. I could be talked into five wins, but I think the bowl streak ends.

Zane Murfitt (6-6)

Draw nothing from last season when projecting to this one. I’m bullish on the offense — running game plus Harris — and I think Dickert coaches the defense to below average from abject monstrosity. Had to talk myself down back to reality from 8-4 when first doing this, which lol wut

Nick Nordi (3-9)

“If you have two quarterbacks, you have none” what happens when you have four quarterbacks? A 3-9 season.

Kyle Sherwood (6-6)

This is the most mysterious Cougar Football team in my lifetime. I have no idea who will win any game. I haven’t picked the Cougs to win the Apple Cup since 2003, so no better time than now to break that streak in the season when nobody knows what they’re talking about.

Kevin Dudley (5-7)

The four games in 2020 only really told us what WSU could do with a depleted lineup and a diet version of the playbook. That playbook is opening up this season and that lineup will (hopefully) be full-go each game (as in, we won’t need to call timeout because we’re all out of defensive linemen). So, suffice to say, 2020 certainly didn’t tell us enough, and maybe not a lot overall. So, your guess is as good as mine for 2021. The offense is capable, so long as it gets good QB play. The defense? Yikes, especially on the defensive line.

Jeff Collier (3-9)

After a surprisingly easy win over USU and an easy win over PSU, I see this team running into a real issue in Pac-12 play. As long as the QB is average, I think the offense has a chance to be special. But I think the defense, especially the front 7, could be an issue against top quality offenses.

Jesse Cassino (6-6)

Six wins and a bowl game. We should be better than USU, PSU, OSU, Stanford and Arizona, and ASU might be a shell by that time. USC, Oregon, BYU, Utah, and UW are going to have too much talent to overcome, and also Cal BS. Give me Shreveport in December!

Brian Anderson (6-6)

The Cougs have the talent to be a mid-tier team in the Pac-12 but there’s enough question marks from the outside looking in to assume they’ll drop most of the tossup games.

PJ Kendall (5-7)

If WSU can get through the USC/Utah/Cal stretch at 1-2, they have a decent chance at a bowl game, but I’ll believe they can win at Cal when I see it. There is a non-zero chance that a 2-0 start becomes a 2-10 finish. It could also be a 6-6 finish, which is probably best case.

Emma Weightman (7-5)

I’m being incredibly optimistic, and I think there’s gonna be some crazy upsets. This year has been weird enough, might as well bet on a wild card right? Right? *eye twitches*

Scott Cresswell (8-4)

Cougs dominate an easy home schedule while beating scandal-plagued ASU in Tempe on the best trip (for the fans) in the conference, and also taking home the Apple Cup.


*definitely not experts

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