Football Friday on a Thursday, Thank God It’s the Final Week of 2012 Edition

Happy Football Thanksgiving, Cougs, sadly but thankfully, our gridiron gang wraps up their season tomorrow, as the hated huskies come to town. It's been a frustrating and trying season for all of us, one that's had more twists and turns than a Martin Scorsese. While nobody anticipated us going 10-2, I would imagine not even the most pessimistic of fans saw us going 2-10.

I think the frustration of our fan base lies in three main things:

What the offense did last year and how many talented playmakers were returning. Plus sprinkling Leach into the equation and having him tout all Spring how quickly the offense was installed and grasped by the players. I think those two things created wildly unreal expectations, plus the fact Moos andCo. hyped the team (which they had to do to sell tix get and get us paid) since 12/7/11.

Anyways, before I jump into this week's picks, here is an update of our Pick Em League Standing. Nobody appears willing to catch Sean in the standings and he blazes the path to glory with 256 points, followed by How We Do at 250 and then in third, St Pete Cougs with 249 points. Congrats all, a helluva run for you Hawk!

Finally, I have one final announcement. Sean approached me in early 2010 and gauged my interest in writing for this here blog, after a couple of trial/guest posts.


Since then, I've come to meet many of you in-person (Ambush, PTown, Selah) and some of you already knew me through other channels, and I cherished every minute writing and talking Cougs with all of you. Seriously, one of the coolest moments in my life was when one of you came up to me at Walnut Creek Brewery in Boulder the night before we played Colorado last season and talked to me like you knew me forever. It scared the shit out of my girlfriend, but shows you the power of this tiny, little blog!

However, I have reached a breaking point in trying to analyze, review, prospect what is going on with this football team. Hawk and Sutra, my goodness, it's amazing that you guys still do this as regularly as I do. Truly, I just don't have a passion for writing like I once did. If it's ok with the guys, I'd love to continue running our social media, but this will be my last post. Thanks for all of the memories.

Lucas Likes:

Utah 56 – Colorado 7: That's pretty much a massacre!

Arizona 38 – ASU 21: Let's face it, the Sun Devils have lost four of their last five, and their only win in that stretch was over a bleak Washington State team. Meanwhile, Rich Rod proves why 4-5 years ago he was the hottest coaching commodity in all of the land. The Mildcats have done terrific in Year 1, and the future looks bright for the only team in the conference (excluding Utah and Colorado since they're newbs) to play in the Granddaddy.

Oregon 42 – Oregon State 24: While Stanford shocked the entire country (including Notre Dame fans) in their upset of the Ducks last week, I just have a hard time seeing NikeU dropping back-to-back games. While the Corvallis faithful should make it tough for a quarter or two, the Ducks are just too damned good at chipping away at the concrete until the flood gates open.

Stanford 28 – UCLA 21: I just don't see the Trees rolling into this one all fat and sassy after dispatching Oregon last weekend. A win here, coupled with an Oregon win the next two weeks, and the Cardinal's bowl game projection is completely up in the air. I could see Stanford playing in anything from the Rose, Sugar or Orange Bowl, all the way down to the Alamo or Holiday Bowl.

USC 20 – Notre Dame 17: RS Freshmen Max Wittek steps in for an injured Matt Barkley and leads the Trojans to the upset victory over #1 Notre Dame down in LaLa Land. Hope your first number 1 ranking in nearly 20 years was enjoyable while it lasted Notre Dame fans!

Bye Week 3 – Cal 0: As you may or many not recall. In this very post last week, I predicted that Jeff Tedford would be unemployed by "this time next week." Well he was terminated, $7M buyout and all, on Tuesday. Does the Cal brass have the nerve to strike back at UW and go after Justin Wilcox and Tosh 2.0?

Washington 34 – Wazzu 21: After the UCLA near comeback, I posed the question of whether or not the Cougs played great down the stretch or if UCLA took their foot of the gas. I said the final two weeks of the season against mediocre to slightly upper echelon competition would be a great measuring stick. Unfortunately last weekend the Cougs jumped into the feces covered bed and rolled around in it, before passing out. Cougs lose, Cougs don't cover.

SeanHawk Sez:

Happy Thanksgiving Cougs, and to you and yours a (hopefully) happy Holiday season!  

That said, you know that this is a day to reflect on what you are thankful for?  I've done my share of bitching and whining about the Cougs and their struggles this year, that somehow we were all "promised" a bushel full of wins and bowl games and all that.  It hasn't happened, obviously, and it's been rather painful for us all.  But hey, that's not for today.  Today is for being THANKFUL FOR WHAT YOU DO HAVE, RATHER THAN LAMENT WHAT YOU DON'T!

I am thankful for all the blessings in my own little life, stating the usual obvious things – wife, kids, job, a roof over our heads and food on the table.  You know the drill.  But I'm also thankful for this blog and what it represented to myself over the years.

See, when we first started out, there were things called "Web logs", or "blogs" for short.  They were basically a mini-website, a means of communication on pretty much anything.  From movies to sports to workouts to whatever, blogs were blowing up back in 2004.  But times, how they change.  "THE" Facebook launched, as did Twitter, and suddenly it became ridiculously easy to share ideas and interact with each other than ever before.  And then CougCenter rose up and joined SB Nation, creating an incredibly talented pool of writers and a loyal, passionate community, and well, we've more or less been left in the dust.  But that's OK!  We're good with CougCenter, from Nuss and Floyd to all the rest, and they are doing some really great things over there.

But I think that's part of life, how you go through different stages?  I think back to where Sutra and myself were when we started this thing, how we were in very different places in our lives compared to today, personally and professionally.  And I guess eventually with many things in life, you just kind of move towards other things as you age and change and while one day something seems incredibly important?  The next, well, maybe not so much.

I think the losing of this football program the last several years has taken it's toll on some of the passion I used to feel, no question.  It's like you become numb to the whole thing, not even upset or angry but just simply numb to the pain of watching your team lose.  But I think the other side to it is that I've just changed as a husband and a father and in my career, and some things just aren't as important as they used to be.  I still love the Cougs, and I love that we've been able to blog about them for 8 YEARS.  No matter what happens going forward, that will always be the case.

Alrighty then, on to the picks for this week!


Utah 45, CU 6: Saw a funny tweet from Jon Wilner the week Stanford played Colorado.  Wilner said the buzz in the press box was the new "eternal" question.  It went from "Where did man come from?" to now turning into "Just how in the world did Colorado beat Washington State?!?!"  Good question, and one we may never know the real answer to!  Maybe as humans we're just not meant to know some things, and that's one of them??

Arizona 40,  ASU 24: Mildcats take it in the always heated rivalry.  And did I seriously just see ASU coach Graham's name come up in another rumor mill!?  Unreal.

Oregon 57, OSU 30: Still amazed that Stanford won at Autzen, but then I heard some good stuff this week about how well Stanford's defensive front 7 played that entire game.  Never has it seemed so hard for Oregon to run the ball, and did you know that of their 40 rushing attempts, 10 OF THEM WENT FOR NEGATIVE YARDS!?  That just doesn't happen to Oregon.  But one thing that I kept thinking about was how Rick Neuheisel said in that interview, that Oregon's O-line isn't really all that special and that they don't need to be, however in most games that's true but not against trying to block the tackling machine's that are Stanford's D.  Anyway, Ducks are angry and roll the not-so-great Beavs.

UCLA 24, Stanford 21:  As great as Stanford's W was last week, I have a feeling that UCLA won't lay down one bit.  Mora has done a terrific job, has to be the coach of the year next to Sarkisian this season?  Anyway, I think the Bruins young QB makes a couple of huge plays, and that will be the difference in a tough, physical game.

Notre Dame 31, USC 21: As much as people might want this upset to happen?  I don't see it, not this USC team.  They are not very well coached, they are undisciplined, and now they are without Matt Barkley?  Forget it.  Irish roll towards the BCS Title game.

Finally, the Apple Cup.  In my last prediction of the year, I will be brief – UW is playing well, and as I told Sutra after they upset Oregon State, not only will UW win out, they should be FAVORED to win out the rest of the year.  And sure enough, here we are.  But the thing that has struck me about UW is that they have improved in bits and pieces over the course of the season, but also that they have figured out something that, dare I say, "winners" figure out?  They have figured out how to win games even when they don't play their best!  That Cal game was one UGLY MUTHA-F*CKA, know what I'm saying??  But they won.  In years past, that's a game they kick on the road against a talented-yet-uninspired opponent, but they got the job done.

Meanwhile the Cougs seem to keep redefining ways to lose games this season.  From blown fourth quarter leads (CU), to close losses against decent teams (Stanford, UCLA), to simply not getting off the bus at all (@Utah, @ASU), we've pretty much run the gauntlet in all the ways we can come up short!
It's funny, but I always hear "Hey, it's a rivalry game, throw the records out the window, anything can happen!"  Really?  If that's the case, then how come UW is 67-31-6 all-time in this series?  If a team wins 67 and loses 31, does that sound like "throw it all out the window" to you?  Not to be a total downer here, and there are some great WSU wins in recent memory in the Apple Cup over the last 30 years or so.  But 67 wins to 31 losses doesn't sound all that crazy, does it?  
Anyway, I think we'll see both teams play fairly well tomorrow.  Jeff Tuel's last game at home and all that, it should be an emotional moment for him.  He had one of his better games as a Coug QB back in 2010 vs. UW in Pullman, and I think he's capable of doing that kind of thing again, Marquess Wilson or not…..although I sure do still wish it could have worked out between MQW and Mike Leach!  But I think the Cougs will play with a nothing-to-lose mentality, and that makes them dangerous.
However, UW as stated above has gotten on a bit of a roll.  They have "found themselves", so to speak, and they are playing with confidence that a team looking for 8 or more wins in a season shows, you know?  Ugly or pretty, they are just in that getting the job done mode, and I think what we're going to see tomorrow.  
I don't think this will be a game for the ages, but it should be entertaining.  The Cougs will scrap and claw and hang around, but UW's running game with Bishop Sankey mixed with play-action by Keith Price getting it out there to Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins will be too much to overcome.  UW wins it, 38-23.
All for now.  AS ALWAYS, GO COUGS!