Hype Music for the Week: "Hail to the King" by Avenged Sevenfold
I'm still lost in the mists of Tuesday's showing by the basketball team in Alabama. George King and his 27/7 line deserve a salute. Avenged Sevenfold will handle the honors here. Enjoy!
Kickoff from Martin Stadium in Pullman, WA is set for 8:45pm on Saturday. Yep, that's the seventh start of 7pm or later this season. It's almost as if the Pac-12 doesn't care if they ruin my circadian rhythm. For those night owls intent on watching this one live, coverage can be found on ESPN2, with the radio call on 850 KOA.
Click below for the preview...
When last we met -
Circling back to the last time Washington State and Colorado met on the football field will take us all the way to late September of 2012. Such a forgettable year, CU would eventually stumble home at 1-11, with a number of those losses coming in truly humiliating fashion. But, for one odd afternoon in southeastern Washington this bunch of battered Buffs reigned supreme, overcoming a 17-point 4th quarter deficit to pull a rabbit out of their hat. It wasn't pretty, it wasn't perfect, but the 35-34 win at least put a fleeting smile on the face of BuffNation. A miracle, indeed.
|The 2012 team will always have Pullman|
The Cougars in 2015 -
Their NCAA statistical profile can be found here.
It has been an interesting season on the Palouse. It all started in the worst way imaginable, with a humiliating home loss to an FCS school -- Portland State. (been there, bruh... been there) At that point, I think everyone was beginning to wonder if Washington State wasn't in for yet another mournful slog to indifferent failure. But, the 2015 Cougars are made of sterner stuff than anyone expected, and started to slowly get back on their feet. They rounded out non-conference play with two wins over lesser FBS competition (Rutgers and Wyoming), and played well in Berkeley before eventually succumbing to the Cal Bears in their conference opener. Despite the rocky start, they had proven to be competent and competitive.
|The Cougars have something to say in 2015. From: the Washington Post.|
Of course, with an offense built around the air raid, they're mostly creating their success though the passing game. The Cougars are currently #1 in America with 414 pass yards off of about 57 attempts per contest; an attack that gets them about 35 points per game. They will throw, throw, throw, and throw some more, getting over 70% of their first downs through the air. Now four years into running the system (and now buying in), WSU does it well, and it's a completely different, and particularly more potent, version of the raid than the one the Buffs faced in 2012. Expect four-wide on almost every down, with a lone running back included for shits and grins. The attack points are short routes, with the QB audibling at will to pick on whichever linebacker he feels deserves it. You know the drill, we've all seen it before.
|It's all about the pitch and catch in Pullman. From: KOMO|
Star Players -
If a team running the air raid is going to be successful, it all starts under center. Redshirt sophomore Luke Falk has been the answer here, throwing for over 4,000 yards and 35 scores on a 70% completion rate against only eight interceptions. Those numbers are good enough to make him the national leader in passing yards and yards per game, the conference leader in TD passes (2nd nationally), and 3rd in the nation in total offense. No too bad for a kid that was originally going to go the Ivy League route (Cornell) before a coaching change, and who was completely ignored in the recruiting rankings.
|Falk is one of the most effective passers in the country. From: USA Today.|
Of course, it helps when a good quarterback has an elite receiving target; Falk and the Cougars have just that in the form of junior wideout Gabe Marks. While there are plenty of other capable receivers on the roster - a total of 11 players have at least 12 catches in 2015 - the 6-0, 190 lbs California product is easily target #1. He's up to 81 catches and 13 scores this season -- numbers bright enough to earn him serious Biletnikoff consideration. BuffNation knows his talents well, having seen Marks before when he helped the Cougs build that 17-point 4th quarter lead three years ago with a seven catch, 107 yard day as a freshman. It was his coming out party as an effective option, one that let you know exactly how good he could be. Marks took a redshirt last season with a serious illness, but has come back with vigor, and the Buffs will struggle to contain the Cougar offense, as a result. He should be good for another high volume, 100+ yard day this evening, as the link between Falk and Marks fuels the offense.
|Marks is one of the best in the conference. From: WSU on Google+|
On defense, the leading tackler is Peyton Pelluer. The 6-0, 227 lbs sophomore from the Seattle area is up to 84 wrapups this fall, including 9.5 tackles for loss. He's joined in the linebacking corps by seniors Jeremiah Allison and Kache Palacio. The pair have combined for a further 12 tackles for loss, with Palacio also reeling in five sacks -- a team high.
|Pelluer can usually be found around the ball. From: Pac-12.com|
The dread pirate himself, Mike Leach, continues to confound and befuddle his enemies. Driven out of Texas Tech by the son of a man who totally did not kill five hookers while at SMU, he has brought his unique brand of football to eastern Washington over the last four seasons. One of the true innovators of the sport, he helped create the Air Raid offense in the mid-90s, and has used it to churn out year after year of offensive brilliance ever since. Say what you will about him, but you can't say he's not one of football's most colorful characters.
|How can you not like Mike Leach? From: KOMO|
My 2015 record: 10-1. Against the spread: 5-5. Optimistic/pessimistic: CU -2 pts/gm
Line as of Thursday @ 7pm - CU +15, O/U 62.5
The Buffs are a road dog coming off a close home loss where they lost their starting quarterback for the year. Yeah, I'm not buying it. I may even like Cade Apsay's upside, but he ain't leading the team to a win tonight. The Cougars are much better than you probably believe, and should win going away. Not a complete blowout, mind you, just a very comfortable win for the home side.
WSU 48 - CU 30
GO BUFFS! PROVE ME WRONG, AND BEAT THE COUGARS!