Football Friday on a Thursday, Week Nine 2012 Season

So now that everyone is sick on halloween candy and has a yard full of smashed jack-o-lanterns we can finally get round to this week’s game, a crucial matchup with Utah. With the number 6 now staring at us in our loss column, it is officially Defcon 1 for our bowl hopes. If that isn’t enough to get you fired up for this game, how about the revenge factor against a Ute team that ended our bowl hopes last year while lacerating our QBs liver? Fired up now? Me too! We had a promising showing last week on the Farm, but the days of moral victories need to be over. It’s time to finally get over the hump and go on a… win streak. Some of us don’t remember what that means, and some of us don’t believe such a thing exists. Will Jeff Tuel and company prove these people wrong starting this Saturday? Your blogfathers have their thoughts as well as other picks around the league after the jump…

If Lord Helmet from Spaceballs was a Ute fan, this would be his hat.

Longball’s Locks:
I am having a hard time picking this week’s game because while we have yet to show we can win a Pac-12 game, let alone one on the road, I still feel super good about how we looked last week. I am also encouraged that I think we finally have the right man under center. This week we play a team that is clearly not as good as Stanford, but we also play in an environment that will be much more challenging. Rice Eccles can be a total nightmare for visitors and frankly, I am psyched to see it in person. However, at the end of the day there are still too many doubts for me to get over, especially the fact that we don’t seem to be able to follow up on strong performances. One team is going to leave the pitch this Saturday with a whole new outlook on their season, and unfortunately I think it’s the Utes. Cougs keep it interesting/heartbreaking…
Utah 28, Cougs 24

Cal 33, UW10
The two most schizophrenic teams in the conference prove that the only thing they are consistent about is being inconsistent.

Stanford 40, Colorado 17
The Cardinal will really enjoy their trip to Boulder.

Oregon 44, USC 41
The game everyone has been waiting for has lost some of its luster. I expect Barkley to come out strong in a last ditch attempt to salvage his legacy, but Oregon keeps its BCS hopes alive in a thriller.

Arizona 41, UCLA 28
A back and forth brawl for 3 quarters, the Cats finally pull away in the 4th and look more and more like a contender to face the Ducks in the championship.

Beavs 35, ASU 28
With Cody Vaz back in the driver’s seat the Beavs continue their quest for an improbably Pac-North title after the hiccup in the Clink.

Enjoy the games folks, and I’ll see you in the SLC. GO COUGS!

Lucas Likes:

A hearty and happy welcome to November to all of you Coug fans out there. Before I jump into my picks for the week, a quick recap of our Pick Em Standings.

Still blazing the way, with a whopping 197 points is none other than our very own Sean Hawkins. Hawk is followed by How We Do with 192, and behind them lies St Pete Cougs at 191 points, and three others tied at 190.

Keep up the good works folks!

Cal 35 – UDub 31: Hate to do this to my Husky friends, but the Dawgs are winless on the road since knocking of Utah 31-14 on October 1st of last season. In that six game stretch, they've been outscored 288-100, which is an average score of 48 – 10 per game. Even the Cougs haven't been that poopy on the road. While we have played 9 road games since October 1st of last year (win at Colorado), victors in 2, but have been outscored in that time 266-177. That's an average score of 29.56-19.67. Surprising, aren't numbers fun?

Stanford 56 – Colorado 10: It still really blows my mind we lost to this crapheap of a Buffalo squad. For the second week in a row, I will advance in the KJR College Pick Em Pool, thanks to Colorado's lackluster performance. They started with nearly 17K entries, and are down to 2,800. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Oregon 45 – USC 28: I have not been impressed with USC at any point this season. Hard to believe for a team that I, and virtually everybody else, thought would be a lock to represent the conference in a BCS Bowl Game this season. I could care less about "Oregon being slowed by the grass surface." Ain't gonna happen, no way, now how. The Ducks are just too damned consistent!

Oregon State 27 – ASU 24: The Beavs look to rebound coming off their first loss of the season last weekend in Seattle; eventhough the Devils are 2-1 on the road this year. Storm Woods is going to rumble through the ASU defense for 100+ and a pair of TDs. Interesting note about the Beavs. I'd a nice chat with an NFL College Scout yesterday who covers the Northwest. I asked him how much he loved OSU's two CB's who are likely to receive all conference honors. He told me that he has Trufant and at least three other Pac 12 CB's ranked higher on his draft board. That caught me off guard.

UCLA 42 – Arizona 28: Arizona QB Matt Scott, took a licking last week against the Trojans, and looked like he was on Bath Salts on the sideline. While he said this week that it was nausea and not a concussion that took him out of the game, my guess is that's just a cute cover story. The Cats have been doubed up, 103-48, in their only two road games of the season.

Wazzu 27 – Utah 24: The Cougs keep there slimmest of bowl game hopes alive with an inspiring win on the road in Salt Lake City, where we're 3-2 all-time against the Utes. To Mike Babbit texted me and said "You've never been accused of being an optimist, have you?" earlier this week. Eat your heart out!

Make it a great weekend. Go Cougs!

SeanHawk Sez:

Happy Football Friday Cougs!  Here's hoping you are recovering nicely from a Humpday Halloween last night.  We had a good dose of trick-or-treaters as the rain more or less held off, and saw some good outfits – we had the usual Harry Potter's and the Avengers and such, but we also had some kids as Batman, Bane, Catwoman, as well as Katniss from Hunger Games, and even some kids dressed as characters from the Minecraft game.  Our youngest went as Luigi from Super Mario, while my oldest went as a Civil War solider.  I won't bore you with the pictures, as I'm sure you've been flooded by that sort of thing on Facebook already!  But overall some pretty good work by the kiddies this year in the costume department.

I can't believe this week is already nearing an end, just crazy how fast time seems to fly as we flip the calendar to November.  How is it we are already on to week NINE of the 2012 season for WSU??  It's amazing to me, how fast it's flown by even with the frustrations of Leach, Year One.   With that, on to this week's picks:

UW 27, Cal 23: Playing the hot hand here, and with the Keenen Allen injury?  Forget it.  Oh, it won't be pretty, but the Montlake footballers will get it done.  UW rolls forward in "circle the wagons" mode, and will be favored the rest of the season after this one (yes, even the Apple Cup).

Stanford 35, Colorado 3: This just in – the BUFFS STINK.  Stanford clicks in every way after their scare vs. the Cougs last week wakes them up.

Oregon 42, USC 28: I think this one will be close early on, and SC might even have the lead heading into the half.  But the Quack will attack big-time in the second half, and roll to a nice convincing W in LA.

OSU 23, ASU 21 – Beavs come off their first loss of '12 with a rebound home win.  It won't be fun to watch, as OSU hasn't really been pretty at all the last few games, but they'll eek it out at home.  

UCLA 37, AZ 28 – Bruins continue to score points, and this one will be close.  But AZ comes down off their USC home win "high", and the Bruins catch them at the right time.  If it was in Tucson I would go AZ in this one, but UCLA wins it on a late FG.

Finally, WSU – Utah.  Yes, I am happy with the improvement we are seeing in the offense.  Jeff Tuel has taken command and we are starting to really see what the Air Raid is supposed to look like – a lot of quick-hitting stuff underneath in open spaces, with some deep stuff when available.  The running game is still non-existent, and I wouldn't hold my breath that it will improve in any way the rest of the season.  And the defense is playing better, a nice showing after struggling at home vs. Cal the week prior.  

That said, I'm still not sure if we've reached any level of consistency.  I mean one week the D plays well (Oregon State), the next week they give up 300 yards rushing (Cal).  One week the offense can't score a TD (Oregon State), the next thing you know Tuel is throwing for 400 and threatening to tie up a ranked team on the road in the waning moments (Stanford).  It's simply what young teams do I guess, show up one week and disappear to an extent the next.

But I really, truly wonder how much last week was a breakthrough?  It seems like things are clicking as Tuel has kind of settled down the offense.  But did you know that last week was the first time in 2012 that WSU actually OUTGAINED the opponent!?!  It's true.   Even in beating EWU and UNLV, the Cougs were still outgained in total offense in both of those games (weird!).  But it was the fifth time in the last six games that the Cougs outgained their opponent in the air, which shows you just how much the ground game has been non-existent in terms of total offense? 

I look at Utah, and I see a team that is at least similar to what we just saw in Stanford.  A physical team that wants to run the ball and control the clock, with a young, unproven QB who is still learning the ropes.  They have a stout defensive line as well, and they play well at home.  And they are feeling good after running Cal off the turf a week ago, so this may not be the best time to get it on with the Utes?

In the end I see a similar game to last week.  I think the Cougs will finally get it into the 20's, for the first time in a month (26 vs. Oregon), and once again we'll outgain them through the air.  But it won't quite be enough.  Utah runs it well on offense, plays tough D and takes care of business at home, as the Utes hold on to win 27-23.  

Enjoy the weekend, and of course, GO COUGS!