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WSU 2017 Preveiw

The Washington State Cougars look to improve on the last couple of seasons and take another step closer to the PAC-12 title.  The Cougs finished 9-4 in 2015 and 8-5 in 2016. In 2016 they got off to a slow start losing their opening 2 games to Eastern Washington and Boise State, but they ran off an 8 game winning streak following that before losing their last 3 games of the season including a Holiday Bowl loss to Minnesota.  This season hopes to be different for WAZZU and they have a favorable schedule to start the season.

WSU’s leading receiver Gabe Marks and River Cracraft moved on, but there are plenty of new guys looking to take that role.  One of the big shockers on signing day was California 4-star wide receiver Jamire Calvin signing with WSU after committing to Nebraska.  Isaiah Johnson Mack is 6’3 target who is now wearing number 9 like Gabe Marks, and has looked good so far in fall camp.  Redshirt Freshman Renard Bell stands 5’8, but has shown great speed and illusiveness during the scrimmages.  6’5 receiver CJ Dimry is also a big target for quarterback Luke Falk.  CJ was a senior last season but because of a medical redshirt, he is able to play one more season and look to see him used more this time around.  Kyle Sweet will step into River’s role more this season, as the junior has continued to get more targets.  The three headed monster of James Williams, Gerard Wicks, and Jamal Morrow who helped WSU to their most rushing yards in the Leach regime will be back for one last hoorah.  The Cougs only 1st team pre-season all-American for 2016 and 2017, Cody O’Connell will be back on the offensive line to protect Luke Falk. Defensively, the Cougar secondary has gotten quicker which was a huge problem the last few games of the season.

Sept. 2nd – Montana State- W 52-17, 1-0

Although the Cougs have opened up the past 2 seasons with losses to consecutive Big Sky teams, this one should smooth sailing.  The Bobcats finished 4-7, but have a returning sophomore quarterback in Chris Murray.  That won’t be enough as the Cougs will cruise in their home opener.

Sept. 9th- Boise State- W 45-35, 2-0

The Broncos are always tough and this is a rematch of last year’s game where the Cougs had a chance to win with a minute to go but couldn’t cash in.  Brett Rypien out of Spokane is dangerous, but being a home game at Martin Stadium, the Cougs offense will be too much and will hold on and start the season 2-0.

Sept. 16th- Oregon State- W 59-21, 3-0

The Beavers coming off 2 disappointing seasons have former Idaho quarterback and JC transfer Jake Luton that stands 6’7 and returning running back Ryan Nall who was one of the leagues leaders in yards per carry at over 6 yards.  The Beaver defense is still suspect and the Cougs have way too much talent.

Sept. 23rd- Nevada- W 62-17, 4-0

The Wolfpack finished last season 5-7 and have questions in the quarterback and running back positions as well as a new coaching staff.  This will be a good warm up game for the Cougs before the face one of the nation’s top teams.  Cougs cruise in this one and should have all their ducks in a row for their matchup the following week.

Sept. 29th- USC – L 41-30, 4-1

The Trojans, who won their final 9 games of the season after starting 1 and 2, looked to be one of the most dominant teams in the country by season’s end.   USC’s top recruiting class each year brings them with their 1st team pre-season All American quarterback Sam Darnold who is going to give the Cougs defense fits.  Good offensive teams like Washington and Colorado, had their way with the Cougar defense last year.   This is an improved Cougar defense but USC has one of the best defensive fronts which will play havoc on the Cougar line.  USC starts off the season by playing Stanford and Texas in their first 4 games, so they will be ready for what the Cougs will bring.

October 7th- at Oregon- W- 45-31, 5-1

The Ducks are coming off an extremely disappointing season going just 4 and 8.  Oregon will be returning 4 year starter Royce Freeman at Running back who had some big runs against the Cougs last year.  They also have a new coaching regime and running a different offense then we are used to seeing at Oregon.  It’s always tough playing a game at Autzen Stadium, but the Cougs will pull away late to beat the Ducks.

October 13th- at California- W 52-35, 6-1

The Golden Bears are coming off an average season but lost their quarterback and it is a toss between three who is actually going to start.  Tre Watson and Vic Enwere will anchor the back field, but another new coach and Cal will not be able to hang with the Cougs potent offense and WAZZU becomes bowl eligible.

October 21st- Colorado- W 48-31, 7-1

The Buffaloes won the Pac-12 South last year, but lost their 4 year starter at quarter back as well as 9 starters on a top 20 defense last season.  They are going to be decent, but not as good as last year, and playing on the road will just be too much for Colorado.

October 28th- at Arizona- W 45-20, 8-1

The Wildcats won only 3 games last year including a 69-7 loss last year to the Cougs.  Arizona was the conference’s best rushing team last year, and J.J. Taylor is the guy, but they don’t have much of a passing game.  It is going to be a struggle for them this year as well.

November 4th- Stanford- W 35-31, 9-1

The Cardinal start the season ranked 14th in the nation and are always tough under David Shaw.  Stanford is returning 8 starters on both sides of the ball, and finished last season off very strong.  Stanford did lose their Heisman candidate Christian Mccaffrey to the NFL, but his replacement Bryce Love appears to be a good fill in behind the strong offensive front.  Look for this to be a battle similar to the 2015 game, but if the Cougs can control the game defensively, they should be able to pull it off.

 

November 11th- at Utah- W 30-27, 10-1

The Utes have had 9 wins the past 3 seasons and return starter Troy Williams. Utah has been good defensively but not much offense. The Cougs will pull this one out late in a low scoring affair for Cougar standards.

November 25th- at Washington- L 45-38 10-2

The Huskies made it to the college football playoff a year ago, but lost quite a bit on the defensive side and their top receiver John Ross to the NFL.  The Cougs have only won the apple cup once under Mike Leach, and playing at Husky Stadium is always a struggle.  The last two years have been lopsided victories for Washington.  The Cougs will close the gap, but still will struggle giving up points.

The Cougs finish 10-2 and lose the Pac-12 North to the Huskies who have an easier schedule by avoiding USC this season.  There are a few games that could go either way and boost the Cougs momentum.  The USC game is possible for the Cougs, but will be a tough one.  If they can pull that off, they may win the Pac 12 North.

 

 

 

 

 

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Shafer Murray

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