Don’t sleep on the Cougars. It’s what my Dad, a Washington State alum and lifelong fan tells me every year.
About 90% of the time that’s just an old fan talking up his team. This year, however, the warning has truth behind it. For both Stanford and Washington State, this has been a great year. The Cardinal are #8 in the National rankings, and WSU is on a three game winning streak, making this Saturday's game more interesting than anyone could have predicted during the preseason.
With QB Luke Falk under center, WSU boasts the nation's second best passing attack. While the Cougars' Air Raid attack has always been powerful, Falk has tallied 26 touchdowns to only 4 interceptions. Meanwhile, Stanford counters those stats with some impressive numbers of their own. They boast a more stout defense than anticipated. They allow 339 yards per game, and have an impressive offense led by Kevin Hogan, not to mention Heisman contender Christian McCaffrey lined up in the backfield.
Still, despite Stanford's offensive weapons and their defense exceeding expectations, the warning of my Dad keeps replaying in my head. Maybe he sees something I'm overlooking. Maybe it’s the aerial bombardment the Cougars dare opposing defenses to slow down each week. Maybe he has more faith in the intangibles, like WSU’s clear thirst for recognition after beating Oregon earlier this year. Or maybe he’s just another die-hard fan of his alma mater, speaking more with his heart than his head. You never know with my old man.
What has me nervous is the conviction in which he puts behind his words when discussing this year's WSU football team. I haven't heard him speak so highly of the team in years. This caused me to watch a few game tapes of the Cougars offensive attack, which has always been one-dimensional. They throw the ball and throw it often. This year, it’s working like a charm. Stanford’s secondary has yet to be tested with the volume like they will when these two teams go head to head in Pullman. I’m sure they will respond positively, but it's going to be a long night for both clubs. In fact, I wouldn't even be shocked if it's the PAC-12 game of the year.