longball

Football Friday on Thursday – UCLA Bruins Edition

Hey Cougs!  Welcome to another Football Friday on Thursday, where each week we belly up and take our best shot at picking Pac-10 games.

Speaking of picking games, you probably know the drill – don’t forget to make YOUR picks in the Yahoo pick’em group.  Here’s the information:

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

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

And if you are curious to how the combined standings, here’s where things are right now (note this is the combined standings of BOTH groups):

1)  LC aka Brandon Lang – 146 points, 29-4 overall

2)  FootWedge – 145 points, 29-4 overall

3)  bhwsu – 144 points, 29-4 overall

4) Soze is Classless! – 143 points, 28-5 overall

4th*tied) VegasCoug – 143 points, 27-6 overall

5)  ThaiCoug – 142 points, 29-4 overall
5th*tied) snakebit – 142 points, 28-5 overall

Remember, the top three get a prize at the end of the year.  And you can see that the points matter just as much as picking the games overall, so be careful when weighing your confidence points for the week.  Also note that first place with 146 points, LC aka Brandon Lang?  It’s actually Lucas Coug, one of the writers around here.  Meaning he’s ineligible for a prize, meaning right at this moment, FootWedge is the overall leader when it comes to who’s in first place for the prizes.

Alrighty then, on to Football Friday on Thursday!

SUTRA SEZ:

Hello followers.  Hope you are all having a great week.

So, hard to believe that we’re headed into week 5 of the season, isn’t it?  Don’t know about you all, but I am VERY MUCH looking forward to watching this weekend’s game on TV.  Why?  Because as we saw yesterday with the changed time to the Oregon game (psst – 2 PM, no TV), we’re quickly headed back into blackout land.  So, for those who don’t live in the State of Washington, this week could be your last time to see the Cougs for a while — as in until the Apple Cup!!!  SO TUNE IN while you still can!!!!

With regard to the game’s outcome, I must confess….I have NO CLUE whatsoever! 

That said, there are a few things that I am clear about:
(A) the defense isn’t as bad as they showed last week; 
|(B) the D can’t possibly play any worse than they did last week;
(C) the D should be the most inspired  unit on the field for this game. 

At the same time, I think that our offense showed that:

(A) they are getting better each week;
and (B) they are getting MUCH better each week.  So, what does that mean when you put it all together?

Well, for me, I think it means that we’re going to play well.  Now, I have no idea whether that will be “well” for our low-standards or “well” for anyone’s (normal) standards. But my sense is that because the D will be better and the O will move the ball a bit (including a bit of actually running the football), we’ll cover the 28 point spread.  So, let’s call it Bruins 38 Cougs 20 in a game that will be within a couple of scores at halftime.

HOOOORRRAAAAYYY!!!

Other Games.

Stanford 38 Oregon 37.  Can I pick against the Trees now after I picked them to win the Pac-10 pre-season?  Nope.  The thing that makes me think that I’m wrong-as in REAL WRONG- about this one is that Oregon did just fine last week when ASU made them throw the football (if Oregon is forced to pass, they often don’t play as well—see Boise State and Ohio State last year).  But, I see just enough of a physical defense and enough balance on offense to see the Trees shock the world on this one.

Beavs 24  ASU 21.  Kudos to my good friend Ted Miller for highlighting this one IMMEDIATELY on Saturday night as the swing game for both teams.  In truth, I really like the Sun Devils in this one.  But, I’m going with the Beavs because they win EVERY year at home following a 1-2 start.  If they don’t, could Riley’s magic be ending?

And the BIG ONE:

USC 38  UW 31.  This should actually be a pretty good game.  If they are able to move the ball on SC, then this should be a real break out game for Jake the Snake.  Sadly for fans of the Defeateds, that USC O-Line and running game portends to shred that Dawg Defense to pieces.  Plus, the Huskies still haven’t won a road game in, well, FOREVER.

Enjoy the games and Go Paul Wulff’s Cougs.

LUCAS COUG SEZ:

So here I am again folks.  My betting picks don’t appear to be the hottest, but I am in First Place after the first four weeks of the college football season in our Pick Em League.  Yes, this is me basking in my reflective glory.  Anybody take Social Psych at WSU and remember this term and Cutting Off Reflective Failure?  Yeah, as Coug fans we have been doing a lot of CORFing the last few season between hoops and football.  If you’re a Mariners and/or Seahawks fan, we have been doing a lot of it.  So, here I go!

Wazzu at UCLA:  While the Cougs got pasted by USC last week, UCLA is coming off the biggest surprise win in college football last weekend.  I do like the Cougs to cover the 27 point spread, but don’t see us pulling off the upset.   The biggest question is whether or not we can put two halves together.  The Cougs have won three of the past four on the road at UCLA.  The UCLA ground game will do us in.  Bruins 35-24.

Oregon State at ASU:  This is about the time of the year, where Mike Riley & Co. circle the wagons and make a run at the Pac 10 title.  They put up a much better effort than most expected last week at Boise Junior College, meanwhile, the Erickson’s held there own against a mighty powerful Oregon team.  Aside from UCLA’s upset last weekend, my second biggest surprise was the ASU offense, which if it wasn’t for seven turnovers, would’ve smashed our conference’s hope at a National Title.  That is, unless Stanford wins out.  In the upset of the week, I am going to take ASU 31 – Oregon State 27.

Washington at U$C:  In the first meeting between friends and former Trojan assistants, Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian.  We all know how good the Husky defense is, just a few shades better than the Cougar D.  The U$C offense has shown at times it can put up points in a hurry.  I have a hard time believing U$C hasn’t had this game circled on their calendar for more than a year now.  Trojans 42 – Dawgs 31.

Stanford at Oregon:  ESPN College Gameday returns to the west coast and Eugene for this terrific matchup that has at a minimum Rose Bowl implications, and possibly an affect on the BCS National Championship Game.  If this game were played at a neutral site or in Palo Alto, I would be leaning towards taking the Cardinal.  The Ducks have won seven of the past eight, and last season these two teams combined for nearly 1,100 yards of total offense.  If you’re looking at any other betting lines, these two teams have eclipsed the Over the past five meetings; this year it is 65.  Oregon 38 – Stanford 31

GO COUGS!

SEANHAWK SEZ:

Happy Football Friday on Thursday Cougs.  And hard as it is to believe, we’re already set for week five?  Just this game and one more, and we’re already at the halfway point of the season?  Unbelievable.  It just keeps flying by, doesn’t it?

Speaking of football, here’s a newly-ripped video of the weekly highlight show that ran last night.  Included is a quick preview of UCLA, a lesson on throwing the football from Jason Gesser, and of course, the highlights from the SC game.

The highlights and stuff are nice, but man, do I want Jason Gesser back in the WSU fold or what?  I hope that at some point soon in the near future, he can be a part of WSU football again.  Not just because of the facts of his playing career, how he was such a winner and all that he accomplished on the field.  But he was also known as one of the best recruiters on the team as a player, and people like Devard Darling claim that Gesser was a primary reason he came to WSU.  The Cougs would be awfully wise to get him back in the fold, and soon!

So, I think about UCLA and I think the beach, Disneyland, power-blue uni’s in the Rose Bowl and really pretty cheerleaders.  Those are the first things that pop into my mind anyway, you know when you have someone say something and then ask you quickly, what are the first things that pop into your mind?  That would be pretty much it.  But you know what doesn’t pop into my mind?  RUNNING THE FOOTBALL.

Somehow, some way, UCLA has discovered a serious identity.  These guys are suddenly steamrolling folks on the ground.  Never mind that pesky “forward pass” thing that’s all the rage.  Just hand the damn thing off, let your offensive linemen do the one thing all offensive linemen love to do – fire off at the snap, run block and tee off on the opponent – and suddenly things are clicking.  I mean really, ask yourself this question.  If someone would have told you that UCLA was going to complete five passes for 27 yards, on the road against a top-10 team in Texas, would you have possibly believed that they would have won going away?  NO FRIGGIN’ WAY!  But it happened, as the Bruins steamrolled their way to a huge win and flexed some serious muscle in the process.

And therein lies the danger for our friends in LA-LA land.  As Sutra pointed out earlier in the week, there may not be a team in the country that is feeling better about themselves more than UCLA is right now.  I mean they were in absolute shambles three weeks ago after getting destroyed at home by Stanford.  The turnaround has been just so stunning, you almost wonder if even THEY really believe it?  But then again, winning at Texas can do a lot for your self confidence, and that is a huge issue with our young Cougs.

Wulff has said it too many times now and I am sure it is starting to fall on deaf ears, but we are just so damn young.  The defense was atrocious vs USC, and at times in that game we had between four and seven FROSH on the football field, trying to stop the five-star athletes of USC.  Yeah, the tackling was awful and they are hitting the crap out of each other this week in hopes of making some corrections, but still, young players just do this.  It’s hard enough to predict what people will do on a week-to-week basis, faced with pressure and all that comes with being a college football player.  But to try and figure out what a bunch of frosh are going to do will drive you nuts. 

The other part of the youth is that they just don’t have experience.  Experience is the best teacher, period, and the only way they are going to learn is by going out and making mistakes.  The highs are nice, like the interception by Bucannon at the goal line last week.  But the lows are horrible, like the 32 missed tackles also recorded last week.  With youth and inexperience comes wild swings of inconsistency, and I can’t see anything change this week.

The scary part about this game is that UCLA’s strength – running the ball – plays right into what we can’t do right now – stop the run.  The Cougs are ninth in the conference in rushing yards allowed, giving up a conference-worst 6.0 yards per carry.  The young talented tailback, Johnathan Franklin, and the huge veteran, Derrick Coleman, are going to be a nightmare for WSU.  Those two combined for 212 yards last week?  Sadly they may have that by HALFTIME this week.  It’s going to be a long afternoon my friends.  Bruins run around and through the confidence-lacking Cougs, 41-20.

Other games:

Oregon State at ASU:   Lucas is right on this one, at least about the part where this is when Oregon State starts winning football games.  The tough OOC schedule is done, and now they get an ASU team probably down a bit emotionally after losing a tough one at home to Oregon.  Now they have to come north to Corvallis.  Mike Riley will have the Beavs ready to roll, and the defense at home will be the difference here.  Beavs take it, 28-17.

Washington at SC: I’m sure UW is going to be fired up after having their pants pulled down on national TV by Big Red.  That had to be some serious humiliation, and after a week off, they’ll be ready.  But some quotes this week has me thinking that SC has been waiting for this one, ever since UW danced and jersey-popped after beating SC in Seattle last year.  But no matter how jacked UW is, you think WSU’s rush D is bad?  UW is actually WORSE, giving up more yards per game on the ground than any team in the Pac-10.  SC has a full stable of running backs, and they should have no trouble running through the UW defense.  And once that running game gets going, everything will open up for Matt Barkley.  And did you know that WSU has actually won on the road more recently than UW??  It’s true.    Trojans 44, Dawgs 27.

Stanford at Oregon:  I have been waiting for this one!  The winner is in the driver’s seat for the conference title, and although Arizona will have something to say about it, I think the same as a lot of other people out there in that the Ducks and Cardinal are the absolute class of the Pac-10 this year.  If this one were on the grass in Stanford Stadium I would be awfully tempted to take the Harbaugh’s, but since it’s in the crazy din at Autzen, well, you all know what an advantage that can be.  And honestly, I believe Chip Kelly is the best coach in this here conference, yes, better than Harbaugh.  Look for lots of offensive fireworks, and in the end, the Ducks are too much at home.  Oregon 45, Stanford 34.

ALL FOR NOW.  GO COUGS!

LONGBALL SEZ…

Sorry I’m late folks!

Friday can really creep up on ya fast, especially when it happens on Thursday. But fear not, Longball here with this week’s picks. We’ll start off with our very own Cougs:

Damn, I am so tired of picking against the Cougs. Week after week I stretch my imagination to the limits trying to think of how our beloved Cougs can snatch a victory. This week they play a team that specializes in all the things that give the Cougs fits, running the ball and stout pass defense. I expect the Bruin secondary to neutralize our only real weapon, the passing game, while Norm Chow’s new fangled running pistol offense exploits our complete ineptitude against the run. Ugh…

Bruins 38, Cougs 10

Elsewhere…

Stanford @Oregon – Game of the YEAR on the Pac-10 already. I really like Stanford, but Oregon at home is a monumental task. I go back and forth on this one about 40 times a minute and at this very moment I am feeling… Harbaugh baby!

Trees 33, Ducks 30

ASU @ OSU – Damn, another really good matchup. ASU has been so close against some damn good competition in Wisconsin and Oregon last week. Now THAT is how a coach fights for his job. I say Dennis and the Devils get it done this week, leaving the Beavs with a wee bit of a hole to climb out of to get to that bowl game for the 100th year in a row.

Devils 28, Beavs 24

UW @ USC – Wow, they are really eating their young in Montlake after the Nebraska game. It’s hard to say whether a bye week was just what the Dr. ordered for the Dawgs, or would it have been better to just get right back on the horse. This game actually features 2 teams coming off what amount to bye weeks. Sure, USC had to travel to in order to scrimmage against a scout team, but their starters should be just as well rested. I think USC at home is just the better team, but a mild shocker here would not surprise me. Still, gonna play it safe…

Trojans 44, Dawgs 31

That’s all, have a great week and GO COUGS!!!

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