Football Friday on Thursday, SMU Mustangs Edition


Hello Followers.  Hope you all are enjoying the lingering taste of that thing called victory.  As for me, well, I’ve  spent most of the week driving in my cars around the Southern Tier of New York basking in our current status as an FCS vote getter (I think we’re ranked #31 in the latest FCS SB-Nation Troll Poll).

But alas, the time has come for us to realize our true status within the world of FBS football.  So, let the picks begin (no pun intended)….



Arizona 31  Iowa 24. Part of me thinks that my predicted point total is high–especially given the strength of Iowa’s defense.  But, the other part of me really can’t get over how darn good Arizona is offensively.  I mean, I thought that they were going to be formidable simply because of Nick “Nolte” Foles.   But now, I can only imagine how high I might have ranked them had I remembered that they still had Mr. Grigsby in the backfield.  So, between those two studs, I think Arizona is going to roll at home.  Only a few late Hawkeye drives will make this game interesting AND close.

Badgers 24 Sun Devils 17.   I think this game is going to be close simply because I think that ASU’s defense is primed for a good showing.  It also doesn’t hurt that their QB has already played in Madison.  For me, this game has all the familiarity of a close game with Georgia last year:  A nice showing, but in the grand scheme of things, methinks it will be a mirage.

CAL 38  Nevada 24. CAL looked SSSSOOOO good last week.  And I think they’ll look just as good this week.  The only thing that will stop the Bears at this point is a top ten ranking—THEN they’ll lose five of their last six.

Oregon 77  Portland State 6. Think Mr. Kelly is thinking about positioning for a National Championship?  I do.  And if so, no reason to do anything but make the Quack look EXACTLY like the University of Florida, west coast edition.  This one is going to be BRUTAL.

Oregon State 28  Cards  7. Let down city for Beavs who are ONLY thinking about Boise State right now.    While I am certain the Beavs will win, this game would make me REAL nervous were I a Beaver Backer.

Stanford 41  Deacons 10.  Are the Trees reading their press clippings or are they smarting over last year’s choke job against the Wake?  Here’s to thinking that the Trees once again make my pre-season pick look fricking  GEEEEEEE-NEEEE-USSSSS.

Houston 48  UCLA 14.  Think about our game versus Hawaii last year and then factor in how that result would feel if we were coming off back-to-back top 10 recruiting classes.  As the ‘Ruins will soon find out, re-building is REAL, REAL HARD.

Nebraska 31  Washington 21.  Jake the Snake will have some success on Saturday.  But ultimately, the smash mouth game of Nebraska will be too tough for a team that might start to reel after starting 1-2.

And the BIG ONE.

SMU 38  WSU 13.  I’ll save my rationale for a later post.  But, while I think our D is ready to roll for a half, I think they’ll wilt from our offense’s continued ineptitude.   Simply put, we’ll be in this game if we put wheels on the field (e.g. Barton and Wilson).  But, if we try to play the Simone-Karstetter possession passing game, we’re gonna get run.

Enjoy WATCHING this one.  Because the number of times we’ll be on a regional TV from here on out is a major, major question.

Go Cougs!


Greetings Coug fans, Longball here with this week’s picks.

Last week we all held our breath as our upstart Cougs barely avoided joining the parade of shame that is the six FBS teams who have lost to FCS teams so far this year. We came out with a cautious, timid game plan against a lower division opponent and almost paid dearly with a loss for the ages. As SeanHawk so eloquently pleaded the other day, it is time to take off the training wheels and turn these kids lose. We have stocked up on some good players, but we will continue to get the same results until we change our approach on Saturdays.

Of course if we are still too scared to go out and attack against an FCS team, I don’t have a lot of faith we’re going to suddenly go all Braveheart on a bowl winning FBS team on the road.

I just have a terrible feeling that June Jones and his staff are licking their chops right now, while our coaches are wringing their hands. I am suffering a full on crisis-of-faith here folks and all I can see happening Saturday is another demoralizing beat down. The coaches won’t LET THEM FAIL! But they will fail, nonetheless..

Ponies 45, Cougs 14

Cal 48, Nevada 35: Don’t sleep on Kyle Kaepernick. I know what Cal did to the Buffs last week, but Nevada has a good offense with a veteran stud at QB. This match-up is what West Coast football is all about.

Trojans 28, Gophers 17:  Can Minnesota become the second team this season to upset a ranked opponent at home one week after losing to an FCS school from the Dakotas? Last week it was Kansas cleansing their stinker against North Dakota State from their pallet by beating Georgia Tech. Gopher fans hope lightening strikes twice as they follow up their loss to South Dakota State with a date with the Trojans in front of the home fans. I like their new stadium. I don’t like their chances in this game.

Badgers 31, Devils 20:  It’s week 3 and the Sun Devils are taking on their first FBS opponent. Oh, and its a Wisconsin team that will challenge the best the Big10 has to offer this year. I hope the extended Fall camp did wonders for the Sun Devils, but I am predicting it didn’t.

Huskers 35, Dawgs 28: There are some projections that over 20,000 Nebraska fans are going to descend on Husky stadium Saturday. If it was Martin Stadium, that would outnumber the home fans! Of course that still leaves just over 50,000 seats for the home fans and they will get behind the Dawgs with everything they’ve got in this one. I really think this is more of a toss up then the rankings would indicate, but Nebraska is better on D and should prevail.

Zona 28, Iowa 24: This was the toughest call for me this week. Nick Foles has a gaudy 83% completion rate. That roughly matches the Cougs hand-off completion rate this season. Still, it’s alll quick short throws, and against some unimpressive competition. Iowa is more than a test, and a team that can make some big noise in the Big 10 this year. I am calling for the upset here, but more ‘just for fun’ than because I’m convinced of it.

Phi Slamma Jamma 40, UCLA 21: Norm Chow is the new Todd Sturdy. Never thought I’d type that. Meanwhile, Houston is one Cougar team that doesn’t hold anything back for fear of making mistakes.

Card 38, Deacons 28: I always wonder about the psychology of these “revenge” games. Is Stanford out for blood, or is Wake sick of hearing about how they are going to be punished for last years win? No matter, Stanford is just better and they’re at home.

Beavs 33, Cards 17: A battle of two teams whose stadium sponsors are responsible for about 34 of the 36 inches on my waist. Papa Johns and Reser have partnered with yours truly over the years to ensure that the shelves at Goodwill are consistently stocked with my barely worn pants. Usually I take pizza over frozen burritos, but not on this day.

Enjoy the games folks, and GO COUGS!


Happy Thursday Cougar fans.  So I’ve done alright in my weekly picks so far.  I don’t need to tell you my record, just look at the top of the standings in our Pick Em League…psst – I’m 17-0! 

Speaking of the pick’em, better get your picks in today.  In case you forgot:

Group #1:
Go here.
Group: 14767
Password: gocougs

Group #2:
Go here.
Group: 16079
Password: wazzufbblog

Now, let’s take a look at Week Three:

Golden Bear 52 – Nevada 28:  This Friday night tilt should be a very high scoring affair.  Cal absolutely smashed our future Pac 12 bretheren, Colorado, last weekend.  Even though Nevada is a good team, this one should be u-g-l-y.

USC 45 – Gophers 13:  Minnesota lost at home against South Dakota last weekend.  The Trojans come off an ugly win at home against Virginia, which means bad news for the Gophers.

Stangs 42 – Cougs 24:  The Cougs have proved nothing to me thus far, and we haven’t won on the road since the 2007 Apple Cup.  Do we turn the ball over on the first play of the game?

Wisconsin 31 – ASU 21:  ASU didn’t look saw hot against their in-state rival from the Big Sky.  The “Fire Erickson” chants start on Saturday night in Tempe.

Huskers 34 – Dawgs 30 The Cornhuskers average 324 YPG on the ground.  They also put the rock on the ground EIGHT times against Idaho last weekend.  The Dawgs have a bit of confidence, so this one should be closer than most expect.

Hawkeyes 31- Wildcats 28 Definitely one of the premiere match-ups for the Pac 10 OOC slate.  AirZona has lost seven straight games against Big 10 opponents.

Cougars 56 – UCLA 20:  Boy those revamped Bruins looked awesome last week against the Trees.  The Rose Bowl is one heck of a Home Field Advantage.  Good thing the bruins have this tune-up game before venturing down to Austin next weekend.

Stanford 38 – Wake 17:  Harbaugh is gonna have his men jacked for this one, as the Demon Deacons prevented Stanford from playing in the Rose Bowl last year.

Beavers 38 – Louisville 9:  Hopefully the Beavs aren’t looking past Louisville to their match-up at Boise next week.


What up Cougs?  Ready for the fireworks we’re about to see down SMU way? 

I don’t know about you, but this has been a draining couple of weeks.  The doors were blown off in week one and the s*it-storm followed; Week two we saw an unbelievably underwhelming performance for 3/4ths of the football game, getting outplayed by a Big Sky team before righting the ship in a pretty strong fourth quarter.  So to me, it comes down to this – WHAT, exactly, are we going to see on Saturday?  Will we see the team that was blown out in Stillwater, and was pretty damn flat for most of the Montana State game?  Or will we see the bat-outta-hell, cut’em loose approach that we saw in the fourth quarter, where the Cougs came back from 16 down to win?

Unfortunately…..while I wish this was the case?  I don’t think the fourth was any type of “revelation”.  I just think it was desperation time, and they had no choice but to take major risks to get back into it, let alone win it.  Sort of like when a hoops team is trailing by double digits late in the game, and the coach says “EFF IT”, full court press time.  The turnovers start happening, the three’s start dropping, and suddenly you wake up and realize you’ve won a game that looked awfully scary for the majority of the contest!

Defensively I loved the pressure we brought in the 4th, and without a doubt the heat rattled the young QB into a pair of turnovers, plus a failed fourth down conversion.  If they sit back like they did for three quarters and try “not to get beat”?  Well….they get beat.  But I credit the coaches for saying the hell with it, let ‘em play and let’s see what happens.

But with that, I think we revert back to what wasn’t working for most of this young season.  We’re going to play soft defense, afraid to get beat over the top, and in turn, SMU is going to shred the Crimson D.  I think if you put the over-under on total yards gained by SMU at 500?  I’m taking the over.

Now, I do believe the offense will execute a little better.  Karstetter and Simone healthy makes a difference in the passing game, and the youngsters in Barton and Wilson help stretch the field and “take the top off” the defense, giving the Cougs some respectable speed that the safeties have to at least recognize and pay attention to?  But the running game is still a major work in progress, with so many stretch-type plays running right into the strength of the Montana State defensive front, which was undersized but quick.  Hmm, run wide against speed, no matter the level of opponent?  It usually doesn’t work.  Anyway, the running game isn’t nearly good enough to keep the SMU athletes on defense from being honest. 

In the end, this one follows the same disturbing pattern we’ve been seeing far too often the last couple of years.  Big yards, plays and points from the opposition in the first half, and then some window-dressing yards and plays from our offense in the second half, with the game comfortably out of reach and the opponent has “called off the dogs” so-to-speak.  There is a reason the betting line is at 23 points or somewhere in there right now (YES, I KNOW the lines are meant to stimulate bettting on both sides!).  But you see, the better teams?  Yeah, they are usually the favorites for a reason.  And SMU is, quite simply, better.  And they are sure as hell a lot further along the rebuilding trail than we are right now.  I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think so – SMU takes it, 45-20.


Cal 34, Nevada 30: An entertaining shootout, but Cal will eek it out late.  Shane Vareen will be the difference maker here.

Trojans 23, Gophers 20:  Minnesota can’t be THAT bad, can they?  South Dakota?  Really??  They will play inspired to bounce back, and USC clearly has some issues that they have to work through.  I heard Colin Cowherd compare USC to the single mom living on $600 a month, and Pete Carroll is the newly-divorced Dad, driving around in a Mercedes and going to night clubs.  Ouch.

Wisconsin 30, ASU 16:  The Badgers are really good, ASU’s offense is not.  And the Big Ten once again strikes a big blow against another BCS conference.

Iowa 27, AZ 23: Speaking of the Big Ten, another good team with a great coach in Kirk Ferentz (quick, did you know Iowa won the Orange Bowl last year??).  Iowa is legit, and while I love AZ’s offense, they haven’t seen anything like they will see from Iowa so far this year.  It could be the game of the week though, as I do believe AZ is the real thing.  But they will come up short at home.

UW 21, Nebraska 16: I know, I know….I shouldn’t fall for it.  But while I love Nebraska’s D, I’m not so high on Nebraska’s young frosh QB who hasn’t yet had to throw the ball.  UW loads 8 (or more?) in the box, slows down the Nebraska running game, and puts the game in the young QB’s hands.  No, he’s not ready for this kind of pressure, not on the road on national TV.  Meanwhile Jakey will struggle, as will UW’s offense in general, but they will make just enough plays late to hang on.

Houston 42, UCLA 18
: Yikes.  Playing the high-flying Cougar O is a tough task anyway.  But UCLA staring down the barrel of 0-4, with a trip to Texas looming next week?  Double-yikes.  They are dreadful on offense, with Kevin Prince injured and ineffective.  They will play spirited football for the first half, but Houston just has too much (IF Keenan at QB is healthy that is!).

Stanford 37, Wake Forest 21: REVENGE baby.  Adam Keefe’s beat the Tim Duncan’s, handily.

Beaver-Believers 31, Cards 20: OSU tunes up for BSU-JC next week by handling the Cardinals at Reser.  NOBODY comes into Reser and pushes the Beavs around….except for Oregon anyway (ouch).

OREGON 1,000,000, Portland State negative-3. - Thanks for showing up.

All for now.  ENJOY THE GAMES, and of course, GO COUGS!