Happy Football Friday, Followers. Hope you are doing great.
Before I get to the “meat” of today’s really brief post, I wanted to provide you with a quick set of numbers (scores), with margins of victory/defeat in parentheses.
Of course, some of you know where these scores come from because I have used them on this site before. But for others who happen to not be “in the know,” these are the final scores of all 12 games from the University of Washington’s last Rose Bowl team in 2000.
In case you didn’t know (or like me, have tried hard to forget), that team went 11-1. And while that particular team of Infidels was able to knock off heavyweights like Miami (11-1) and Oregon State (11-1) in Seattle that year, you can see that most of their wins came in rather unconvincing fashion.
And so the reason why I emphasize UW today is to highlight what EVERY Coug fan should be thinking about tomorrow and every week thereafter this season:
Because when you’re ranked 24th in the Country and facing the mounting pressure of playing teams that you should beat–or beat handily—it gets all-too easy to get the yips (when things don’t come easy) and lose site of the fact that the only thing that matters is the W.
And so, it just doesn’t matter whether we beat Montana State by 60 or 6 tomorrow. What matters is that we get the W, and get the hell out of that game with all of our primaries (i.e., Falk, Martin, Ekuale, Hercules, and Dillard/O’Connell) healthy and ready for Boise State (#SmallTime) next week.
The Keys To Winning Revisited
Now, in season’s past, I have based my picks on the “Four Keys” to winning. And since I haven’t had an original idea since sometime in the mid-80’s, I’m gonna stick with these same criteria. They are:
Will Luke Falk throw for 400 or more yards?
Will WSU rush for more than 100 yards?
Will WSU score more than 35 points?
Will WSU be +1 or better in turnover margin?
Because time is short, I wasn’t able to go back and review the “predictive” validity” of these indicators,–although you can be completely confident that they are MUCH better than Bill Connelly’s S&P (#FakeMetrics).
That said, it only took me a quick second to look inside the numbers and isolate some info that might be instructive for this year’s Cougar Football team.
Want to know what I found?
Well, in 2016 the Cougs scored 30 or more points in 8 out of their 13 games. Their record in those games? 7-1, with the only loss coming in the opener against Eastern Washington.
Meanwhile the margin of victory in those 7 wins was a whopping 28.5 points, which, in modern math, is right around four touchdowns.
Now, let’s compare that hot statistic to our W-L record when we scored less than 30 points in 2016, which we did 5 times last season.
Our record in those games was 1-4, with an average margin of defeat of 12.5 points, or nearly two touchdowns.
Of course, my point is that this Cougar offense—just like last year’s squad–is built to outscore folks, while our defense is built to keep the opposition down just enough to win. And to that point, only 3 times last year—including that stinker of an opener against Eastern—did the defense yield more than 35 points. And frankly, if Gabe Marks hadn’t dropped that touchdown pass that would have put us up 21-7 in the second quarter of that Colorado game last year, I don’t think that the Buffs would have reached 35 in that game either.
So, if you’re looking for one key to look at moving forward its number of points scored. And to be clear: I would venture that if the Cougs can score 35 or more points in all of their games this year they will finish no worse than 10-2. And 10 wins is the goal for this season. No ifs, ands, or buts.
To the predictions…
Will Luke Falk throw for 400 or more yards? No. But let’s go ahead and put him down for 367 yards, 4 touchdowns, and a nice brown clipboard for the fourth quarter.
Will WSU rush for more than 100 yards? Yes. By a lot. As I noted on the Twitter earlier in the week, both Boobie and Wicks will rush for over 100 yards in this one. And I also think we’ll see another 150 in reception yards out of the backfield. In other words, its going to be track meet for RBu.
Will WSU score more than 35 points? Yep.
Will WSU be +1 or better in turnover margin? I think the Cougs will +3 tomorrow, especially once Montana State gets behind a few scores and starts to chuck it a bit. At that point, I think we’ll see some fumbles as well as a pick or two from Thompson or Taylor.
Final score. Like I noted above, the key for tomorrow is #JustWin. So, I really don’t care whether we light em up, or leave with a 28-24 yuck fest. But since I’m already on record in saying that this will be a blow-out, let’s go with 59-17.
I just want to be 1-0! #JustWin
Other games of note:
Washington 51 Rutgers 7 (Blah,blah, blah)
Texas A&M 28 UCLA 24 (But man do we need the Pac-12 team to win this game!)
Colorado State 35 Colorado 31 (But man do we need the Pac-12 team to win this game!)
Troy 31 Boise State 30 (#SmallTime)
And the Big One:
Alabama 28 Florida State 24
This game is going to be really, REALLY close, with the Tide’s size and power in the backfield being the difference in the end. That said, keep an eye on the role of Special Teams in this game. Alabama has a world-class punter who will enable them to play field position. But they also have a FG kicker who is a HOT MESS. So, if this game comes down to Field Goals, then Florida State is going to leave the A-T-L with an inside track to the College Football Playoff.
Okay, that’s all the time I have for the day. Enjoy the first weekend of College Football (as well as the USMNT).
All for now. Go Cougs!