Are The Cougs Legit? - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Are The Cougs Legit?

Posted: Updated:
PULLMAN, Wash. -

A new wind is blowing through the Palouse this fall. It's the same coach, but a different feeling. Last year Mike Leach in Pullman brought hype with disappointment, but this season there's something different.

The Cougars are 3-1 with three straight wins for the first time since 2006. Their last win was a shutout, something WSU hasn't done in ten years. Those numbers make it look like the Cougars are the best they've been in a decade, but the question that comes up is "are the Cougars finally a legitimate bowl team?"

At this point last year, WSU was 2-2 fresh off a depressing loss to Colorado, where they basically handed the win to the Buffaloes. This year though, it's a winning record at 3-1, with two of those wins essentially coming against FCS schools. Southern Utah plays in the Big Sky and Idaho may as well be there, at least for this season.

Still that 3-1 mark stands out. It's the same total they had in 2011, when WSU started the season 3-1, only to lose seven of their next eight. That very well may be the case again this year. The only thing that keeps one from jumping to that conclusion, though, is USC.

WSU beat USC for the first time since 2002. It wasn't just a win though, but a win in the Coliseum, something any program has struggled to do over the last decade. Yes, this isn't a national title contending USC team, but it's still a Pac-12 win. The Trojans also have Marquise Lee and one of the top defenses in the conference.

This USC win doesn't make the Cougars a legitimate contender, but it at least keeps them in the conversation of being a bowl team. They already have one more win than most people thought they'd have at this time, and that one win may prove to be the difference this year.

However, to really answer the question of how legit Washington State is in 2013, look no further than this Saturday. A top five ranking says it all, but on top of that the Stanford Cardinal showed who they were last week against Arizona State. Stanford posted 29 straight points on the Sun Devils on the way to a 42-28.

The Stanford Cardinal will show what Washington State is really made of. Stanford has a top ranked defense coupled with a competent offense, unlike USC. They've shown they can score points and stop teams.

If the Cougars win, it not only cements them as a bowl contender, but it gains national attention. If they get blown out, then the entire west side of the state -- and even the nation for that matter -- will just assume this is the same ol' Cougar team.

There aren't any moral victories for Coach Leach, but the beauty of this game is that Washington State doesn't even need to win to show that they belong. A win would be historic, but to figuratively punch Stanford back after Washington State gets punched will say a lot. And WSU will get punched. Staying with the Cardinal every step of the way Saturday will show who this team really is in 2013.

Cougar fan or not, you got to admit the one thing they have going for them right now is confidence and they won't be looking past this week's opponent.

I asked Mike Leach Monday if he believes in momentum and he does. He was quick to point out though that momentum is often times just a mindset. It's making the decision that we're going to build off of what happens or let it work against us.

That will be the test on Saturday. The Cougars are coming into CenturyLink with plenty of momentum: three straight wins, the first shutout of the Leach era, and 90 points scored in the last two games alone. At some point on Saturday though, that momentum will be stopped. Stanford will score, Stanford will take the lead, and Stanford will appear to be dominant. The question is how will Washington State respond?

The answer to that question may very well answer who this Washington State team really is in 2013.

 

  • College

    • Martin, Jr. no longer with WSU football team

      Tavares Martin, Jr., Washington State's leading wide receiver, was recently dismissed from the team for reasons still not quite clear.

    • No. 12 Gonzaga bounces back to beat rival Huskies 97-70

      SEATTLE--Sunday night, the Gonzaga men's basketball team defeated Washington Huskies 97-70 to improve to 8-2 on the season. Senior forward Johnathan Williams scored 23 points while grabbing 12 rebounds. As a team the Zags shot above 50 percent from the field as they never trailed in the contest. Up next for Gonzaga is a home contest against North Dakota on Saturday December 16.
    • Idaho loses on the road at CSU Bakersfield 66-55

      Idaho Athletics BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – Turnovers were the story on Saturday night, with Idaho falling at CSU Bakersfield, 66-55.   THE GAME   Idaho jumped to a quick lead in the opening minutes, taking a 14-8 lead midway through the frame.  The Vandals would go cold for a long stretch from there, with Bakersfield going on a 15-0 run over the next nine minutes.  Victor Sanders ended the cold stretch with a 3-ball with two minutes to play in the half, but Idaho...
    • Gonzaga loses heartbreaker to UNLV 52-50

      Gonzaga Athletics SPOKANE, Wash. – The Gonzaga Bulldogs erased an eight-point fourth quarter UNLV lead and led by two late, but fell to UNLV on Saturday afternoon inside the McCarthey Athletic Center, 52-50. The Zags had a out-of-bounds call on the court reversed and had possession up 50-48 with 1:17 remaining, but a turnover at the offensive end led to an eventual layup for UNLV with a foul, and an offensive rebound on the free throw that led to a put-back for the 52-50 lead....

    • Whitworth falls to Carroll College in Holiday Classic 78-56

      The Pirates couldn't hold off Carroll College in the Holiday Classic finale, losing 78-56.

    • Whitworth beats Colorado College 65-50 behind Douglas' 26 pts

      Grace Douglas scored 24 of her 26 points in the second half to lead the Whitworth Pirates to a 65-50 win over the Colorado College Tigers. 

    • Eagles cruises to 88-42 victory over Multnomah

      Eastern Washington was led offensively by Delaney Hodgins who had 24 points and Uriah Howard who added a career-high 18.

    • Lady Griz win third straight game, beat Stephen F. Austin 60-52

      The Lady Griz won their third straight game on Thursday as they beat Stephen F. Austin 60-52 in Dahlberg Arena. 

    • Gonzaga wins tight one in Pullman over WSU 64-56

      Zykera Rice took over late with 19 points, 13 in the second half, seven rebounds, and big play after big play as GU took control in the fourth quarter.

    • Vandals roll past Cougars 91-64

      The Battle didn't last very long on Wednesday night in the Cowan Spectrum, with Idaho running away to the 91-64 win over Washington State.

    More
  • John's Sports Blog

    • Cougars Vs. Beavers - Who Has The Edge?

      The countdown is on in Pullman, Washington, as the Cougars will host their first Pac-12 game at Martin Stadium. WSU welcomes in 4-1 Oregon State on Saturday.
    • Are The Cougs Legit?

      A new wind is blowing through the Palouse this fall. It's the same coach, but a different feeling. Last year Mike Leach in Pullman brought hype with disappointment, but this season there's something different.
    • 3 Reasons Olynyk Will Make it in the NBA

      Kelly Olynyk starts the NBA Summer League on Sunday, will he have a lasting career in the NBA?
    • And Then There Were Four

      With that said four teams remain in the NFL playoffs, but there can only be two in the Super Bowl.
    • "Expectations Couldn’t be Higher… Can you be Perfect?"

      It's state tournament time for high school football in Washington and this always takes me back to the movie Friday Night Lights.
    • Rule Number One, We are Number One

      For the third straight year, Eastern Washington's football has earned the number one ranking in the nation.
    • From NFC Worst to NFC West

      How good is the NFC West right now? Right now the entire division is at .500 or better. Most people think the San Francisco 49ers are the best team in the NFC, but they're not even the top team in the division as of Friday.
    • college basketball

      NCAA Investigates Saint Mary's Basketball Program

      With college basketball looming on the horizon, multiple sources report the Saint Mary's program is under investigation for alleged recruiting violations.
    More
HD DOPPLER 6i
/