Sep 14, 2013; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers defensive back Ryan Smith (24) celebrates with fans after the Tigers beat the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports
There’s something to be said about strength of schedule in college football. Actually, there’s a lot to be said and really it’s the only thing you can go on for at least half of the college football season. When you’re talking about a potential “surprise” team, as the Washington State Cougars are aspiring to do, you need your opponents to do as good or better than they are expected to. So far, that’s exactly the case for WSU’s opponents through 3 weeks.
Ok, so Southern Utah was severely undermanned in Pullman and got beat up real good. Even so, they sport a healthy 2-1 record and a win over FBS newcomer South Alabama, so they’re not a total push-over. Washington State’s just that much better.
More importantly, USC’s methodical beat-down of BC on Saturday made them look better after suffering a brutal showing at home the week before against the Cougs. USC scored 35 points which is really and truly a good offensive output, though I think we’ve become so accustomed to the Trojans scoring 50 that it looks like a small number. It’s not. Also, wouldn’t the 35 look pretty big had they scored 14 on WSU and won the game? I think so.
Then of course most important is the fact that Auburn is much better than Coug fans and maybe some pundits around the country thought. Sure they’re fortunate to have started the year with three consecutive home games, but the Mississippi State win this week was no fluke. The Tigers are just a whole lot better. Will they beat LSU next week? Probably not, but they’ll be at least 4-2 heading into the second half of their season and I give them a fair shot of taking down a ranked Ole Miss at Jordan-Hare in three weeks.
Bottom line, Washington State is and will continue to benefit from a schedule of teams that continue to perform well. Idaho won’t help that cause this week, which means WSU just needs to take care of business and move on to Stanford. Beating a 5th ranked Cardinal team would go a long way towards making the Cougs a bowl team. We’ll cross that bridge next week but for now, with a nationally top ranked pass defense (under 100 yards a game) and a Mike Leach offense that is poised to break out, the Cougs look pretty good on their own.
Their previous opponents just have to keep up the good work to make WSU look even better.