The Boise State Broncos have every right to feel good about themselves heading into the second week of the season.
The team ran laps around Louisiana-Lafayette as visitors last Saturday, 45-10. The Broncos came out hot with 35 first-half points. Five different offensive players added a touchdown to their stat sheets.
A meaningful road win should instill some confidence in Bryan Harsin’s troops as they gear up for their first live action of the season on the blue turf. They’ll need every bit of it, too, because a hungry Washington State Cougar club heads into Week 2 trying to stave off an 0-2 start to a campaign in which many perceived them as genuine Pac-12 dark horses.
The problem: Preseason “dark horses” don’t typically retain that badge following losses to the FCS.
We’ve Been Here Before, Haven’t We?
The Cougars dropped their home opener to Eastern Washington (can someone promote these guys to the FBS, please) — as 30-point favorites.
*flips back to last season*
The first time’s an accident, the second time’s a trend. The year 2016 is already eerily familiar for Washington State, which kicked off last season with a loss to FCS Portland State in Pullman — as four-touchdown favorites.
How in the world is a team that was lacerated by a gunslinger named Gabe Gubrud (474 yards, five scores) going to travel into uncharted territory and spill red all over the blue field? First off, the number geeks don’t respect the Cougars — they’re 10.5-point underdogs on Saturday.
It’s deja vu for the Cougs. They had to travel to Rutgers in Week 2 of last season following a bittersweet opening-week defeat. Washington State came out victorious as underdogs. Had it not been for Janarion Grant wreaking havoc in the second half, the Cougars wouldn’t have needed a Luke Falk go-ahead touchdown pass in the waning seconds to seal the lid.
While the common folk want to dish out the assumption that these two teams are “already heading in opposite directions (it’s Week 2?),” it should be reiterated that head coach Mike Leach is all too familiar with this scenario.
Forgive the personal
degeneracy infatuation with the numbers, but lo and behold, he has flourished in this spot. Since making his way to Pullman in 2012, Leach has covered nine of 11 spreads on the road following a home loss. In 2014, the Cougs won as 13-point underdogs to Utah and 8.5-point ‘dogs to Oregon State after dropping their previous respective contests in their own confines.
Xs and Os
Welcome to Air Raid hell, population: Cougars.
Louisiana-Lafayette quarterback Anthony Jennings attempted 33 passes last week against Boise State, and there’s not a fleck of doubt that Washington State will shatter that clip. Falk’s receiving tandem of Gabe Marks and River Cracraft will keep a seasoned secondary occupied all evening.
In 2015, the Cougars’ revamped defensive line lent a helping hand to the back seven. Gubrud frayed Wazzu’s secondary in Week 1 this season, and the defense needs to keep Boise State’s Brett Rypien in check on Saturday.
We Don’t Give a Duck
Some tab Boise State’s blue turf as a potential advantage for the Broncos — if you’re into that kind of stuff. Leach doesn’t have time for it. Per the Seattle Times:
“I’m glad I don’t have to watch film on it every day, to be honest with you. I think secretly those assistant coaches and those coaches at Boise, despite the fact it’s a trademark thing, would rather watch their guys practice on grass so the bodies, there’s a little more contrast with them, running around than on blue turf. I’d rather watch it on green than a variety of colors.”
Get PETA involved while we’re at it.
“I think animal-rights groups should keep an eye on it so ducks don’t break their necks trying to dive in.”
Cougars, Broncos, and now ducks, oh, my!
Washington State will try to do its own hunting on Saturday to stay afloat prior to PACtion.