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Hello Followers.

Well, Game Day has finally arrived.   In a few short hours, we will take on the boys from the State University of New Jersey, otherwise known as Rutgers.

If I was as clever as Huddy, I’d figure out a way to fashion this post after all of the songs by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons (scroll down and check out Huddy’s Hunches to see what I’m talking about here).  But alas, I am not.

So, in light of my lack of talent for all things substantive and witty, today’s post is structured as follows.  First, I provide my five keys to the game. Then, I provide my game pick.  As a part of that annual demonstration of futility, I’m a adding a special little wrinkle this year–which I hope you all will play along with me. And that wrinkle is this:

Borrowing from Cougcenter’s notion of the “three keys to winning,” I’m going with an over/under format for a few key offensive numbers which I think will be predictive of winning football.  And those metrics are (drum roll, please).

  • Whether Connor Halliday will meet or exceed 400 yards passing in the upcoming game
  • Whether WSU will amass more than 100 yards rushing from the running back position in the upcoming game
  • Whether the OFFENSE will score 35 or more points in the upcoming game.

The general assumption at work here is that if we amass 500 yards of total offense, present some sort of offensive balance, and if we put the ball in the endzone 5 times a game, then we’ll win a majority of our games.  Of course, the other rationale for this little wrinkle is that it challenges all of us not only to predict whether or not we’ll win, but HOW we’ll perform in key areas of the game.

The Keys for Tonight’s Contest against Rutgers:

1)      Don’t be Special

This first key is basic.  We’re a better football team than Rutgers.  So, if our offense keeps its head down and plays its game for 60 minutes, we should find ourselves with the higher score at the end.  The key will be to avoid costly turnovers and sloppy mistakes that kill drives and put our defense on the field in negative situations.  Simply put: DO. YOUR.  JOB.

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2)      Punt, Catch, Kick

The second key to the game involves the Special Teams.  Don’t know if you remember this or not, but were it not for a special teams blunder last year, we beat Auburn.  This year, our special teams are a MAJOR question mark, if not a potential unsung area of disaster.   So, we need to be solid on our kickoffs and kickoff coverages.  We need to get good snaps in the punting game.  We need to net 35 yards when we punt.   We need to hit field goals inside 35 yards.  And lastly, we need to catch the football on punts.

Put simply, we don’t have to win the game on special teams.  We just need to make sure that we don’t LOSE the game on special teams.  DO. YOUR. JOB

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3)       The Muffler


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Last year, Darryl Monroe came out the gate with his pants on fire.  He played great against Auburn and was lights out against USC.  And then he got hurt and didn’t play as well as we’d like in the middle of the season.



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Thankfully for us, Mr. Monroe regained his early season form against Arizona in what I thought was a lights out effort for him.  Moreover, when Darryl plays well, it seems like everyone beside and behind him does as well.  So, for us to be successful tonight, Darryl is going to have to silence Rutgers’ offensive engine.  Be the Muffler, Darryl.  Be the Muffler.

4)      Get Home

Those of you who have kept up with the great work of Brian Anderson at Cougcenter know that Rutgers made a big offensive hire in the offseason.  And when I’m talking about a BIG offensive hire, I’m talking about a BIG OFFENSIVE HIRE.

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Anyhow, the Fridge is well known throughout the coaching ranks for being one helluva offensive mind.  The question is, how will he employ his wealth of football knowlege against WSU later this evening?

In response to this question, Kirk Herbstreit warned the Rutgers faithful this morning that they should not get involved in a shoot-out style game with WSU.  And if you take his points as valid, then one would assume that we would see a whole lot of ball control from Rutgers tonight.

That said, those who have watched a lot of game tape on the Cougs know that that run-first teams that don’t throw very well and don’t have a good read option game are the EXACT type of teams that we tend to eat alive.  So, if I’m the Fridge, I go the quasi-Stanford route and try to play action us early and often, attack our secondary, and air that fricking pigskin out until such time that either (a) We can stop it; or (b) Nova shows he can’t throw it.

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For that reason, the pass rush from the defensive line is going to be critical.  If we can get home rushing three or four, this one is going to turn into a laugher.  If we can’t, then put on your Christmas sweater and get ready to watch a replay of the 2013 New Mexico Bowl….


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As E.T once said, “OOOUUUCHHHHH!!!”

5)      Convert in the RedZone

While coach Leach is well known for going for it on 4th down, the fact of the matter was that when we got into 4th and 7 type situations inside the opponents 35 last year, Andrew Furney seemed virtually automatic.

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Of course, this year, we don’t have such an alternative.   And so, while I suspect that we’re going to move the ball seemingly at will between the 20’s, how we complete drives will determine whether this game is a comfortable and enjoyable  or whether it’s a nail biter.

Because Rutgers is thin in the secondary,  they’re going to be forced to pick their poison a bit in terms of what they’re going to give up.  And in mind, I think that they’re going to try to make our inside receivers beat them tonight.  So, if we’re going to come out on top tonight, I think we’re going to need to see  a couple of touchdowns from the group of Cracraft, RG5, and Green to go with the couple of big plays we’ll get from Mayle, Kristoff, Dom, and Myers.

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Will Connor Halliday throw for over 400 Yards Tonight?

I’ll take the over on this.  I think he’s right around 440 tonight.

Will WSU get 100 yards from the RBs tonight?

I’ll take the over on this as well.  I mean, if you’re a defensive coordinator, don’t you drop 7 into coverage and see how we respond?  The good news for us: I think Morrow and Wicks are going to light it up.

Will WSU Score 35 or more points in tonight’s game?

NO.  But I do think we’ll score 5 touchdowns.  Sadly, I think we’ll miss an extra point.  And boy will that make us nervous at the end of the game.


If Rutgers comes out tonight and tries to play ball control as Kirk Herbstreit suggested they should, I think this is going to a VERY long night for the Scarlet Knights.  Put differently, if Rutgers thinks they’re going to stay in the game by running first, they’re going to find themselves in 3rd and long for most of the night and we’re going to win to the tune of something like 51-17.

But, unfortunately for us, I think Rutgers is going to come out throwing.  And once they get that established, they’ll be able to mix it up much in the same way that Colorado State did to us a few months back.

In the end, the Cougs win 34-30 in a game that will make Cougar Nation pretty restless.

But remember folks, this is ONLY the first game.  This team will improve dramatically in the season’s first three weeks.  The key tonight is to simply win the game.


Enjoy the Game.


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