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2014 Stanford opponent preview: Washington State set to air it out again

Let's prepare for the 2014 kickoff by looking ahead at the teams the Cardinal will face this fall

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

2013 Record: 6-7 (4-5 Pac-12), lost to Colorado State in the New Mexico Bowl

2014 Expectations: Washington State appears to be slated for a mid-table finish this year, but a lot of key contributors return on offense, making the Cougars an interesting wild card in the middle tier of the conference. Just last year they upset USC in the Coliseum, and the year before that they knocked off Washington in the Apple Cup. The Mike Leach era has returned some needed optimism (and offense) to the Palouse, and they're a team that could alter the landscape of the Pac-12 North this season. The critical questions revolve around the defense, which loses hard-hitting safety Deone Bucannon and wasn't very good last year - 97th in the country.

Best player: QB Connor Halliday. The senior threw for 4,597 yards and 34 touchdowns last year, and he's a perfect fit for Mike Leach's dangerous Air Raid offense. He's decisive with the football, and even if he isn't the most talented QB in the conference, he'll still find a way to put gaudy numbers on the board.

Prediction vs Stanford: Remember how I just talked about how Connor Halliday is going to put up crazy numbers? He threw for only 184 yards and an interception against Stanford last year. And now he faces Stanford on the Farm. On paper, this game shouldn't be too much of a challenge - just pound them on the ground (or let Kevin Hogan pick apart the secondary when WSU stacks the box). The Cougars will most likely be able to move the ball more effectively than they did in 2013, but this game is probably just a midterm before Stanford gets some real tests against the more potent spread offenses of Arizona State, Oregon State and Oregon. It's a good spot to find Washington State on the schedule.

100 words of visceral, inobjective, biased hate: The Cougars, who are now among everyone's favorite teams because they employ noted lunatic Mike Leach, blew a 15-point lead with four minutes left in the New Mexico Bowl to Colorado State. Let's relive that experience, shall we?