Well the College football season is coming to an end. 70 teams will have one last chance to show what they’ve got and do their schools proud. Being in a bowl game is a great honor but 70 teams get to play in a bowl. In College football you want to be in the minority, you want to be one of 35 to win a bowl and bring home a trophy to your school!
Bowl season is here and when it’s all said and done a new national champion will be named for the first time in a few years and for some teams, this is the new beginning.
Washington State hopes to be one of those teams erasing years of painful memories and shortcomings and taking on new beginnings. The Cougars suffered through 10 seasons without a bowl. While hitting many low points I think everyone can agree the deepest valley was in the 2009 season where the cougars went 1-11 (the only win being over SMU by 3 in overtime) and the Cougs lost to UW in Seattle 30-0.
Need more perspective of how huge a bowl berth is for the Cougs? From 2008 through 2010 (3 seasons) Washington State won a total of 5 games… that’s 5 out of 37 games and only 3 of those wins were against FBS opponents (UW 2008 [0-12], SMU 2009 [8-5] and Oregon State 2010 [5-7]). I don’t mean to beat a dead horse but before Mike Leach arrived to save the day at Washington State, from the 2008 season the cougars were Outscored 37-18… That’s 4 years of being defeated by 3 possessions, that’s almost scoring 1,000 points less than your opponents over 5 years, that hurts, that is what Cougar football had become.
When Mike Leach took over this program it was not an easy turnaround but it has been speedy considering the stats above he had to undo and now they find themselves playing in a Bowl game for the first time in a decade. While I’d love to get into more about this turnaround, we have a game to focus on! The New Mexico Bowl. Let’s take a look at this match up as both teams hope for the start of something special.
What Colorado State brings:
A big time running game! Now I’ve been thinking this over and over in my head, even though the Rams played one of the easiest schedules in FBS this year (106th Strength of Schedule), they definitely deserve to be here! A big part of that has been a much improved (I mean VERY much) offensive line and one hungry, amazing player… Yes I’m talking about Kapri Bibbs.
This guy is a fighter and he’s fast. It is a task for any defense in the nation to stop this guy and I believe he will have his time on Sundays. This future NFL back is someone opposing defenses have to plan for and come up with a strategy to slow him down. He has been a part of a very explosive Colorado State offense and it will be fun (for me frustrating most likely) to watch him come Saturday. The Rams are are averaging 35.3 points a game and are not looking to slow down in Albuquerque.
So what are the Cougar trends this week?
Control the running game on defense. I know Bibbs is a great player and it’s going to be hard to keep him under 100 yards but the Cougs have faced this before. Players like Ka’Deem Carey, Marcus Mariota, Bishop Sankey, Tre Madden and if you really wanna throw it out there Nick Marshall and Tre Mason who will be playing for a National title at the end of bowl season.
Now I know the Cougs didn’t really stop these guys, not even close looking at the numbers, however they were able to limit the effects of their impact on the game for the most part (Mariota and Sankey are the exceptions). The Cougars need to come out with the defense we saw control Ka’deem Carey’s effect on the game, keep Colorado State in long yardage on third downs and neutralize the running attack. If the defense does that and forces a turnover or two, watch out!
Offensively the Cougs need to play their game, explosives are the key to this one! If the Cougar D allows a big play on their side of the ball the offense will need to respond with points… No 3-and-outs after the D gives one up. If you remember the game vs Utah, the Cougs jumped out to a big lead early but the Utes came right back and were in it pretty much the rest of the game… But it sure didn’t feel like it, because every time the Utes would get a huge score, Wazzu came right back and put more points on the board erasing any effort Utah tried to put forward. Connor Halliday needs to be on in this one, don’t give their defense any momentum or hope, the secondary must feel helpless early.
Last, I know these Cougs won’t need any motivation to get up for this one, so just make sure to control emotions and play a good solid game. This game is going to be huge for the future. What’s really fun for me as a fan is going to be watching this senior class give it one last go and play in a bowl game, how crazy is that!
This is an amazing opportunity for so many reasons but thinking about where these guys started their career for the Cougs and how much work and adversity they faced… it really is like nothing I’ve ever seen. I’ve been a Coug since I can remember and I’ve seen some great days but I’ve also been a part of the darkest. It will be so rewarding watching the seniors end with such an amazing pay off for their efforts. It will also be exciting watching the younger guys take the next step in rebuilding this program.
I really am proud of my team and the effort and commitment they’ve had for this program that I love. The seniors on this team started their Cougar careers with a record of 2-10 (RS seniors 1-11) and the guys remaining never gave up and never let anyone tell them they weren’t good enough, they faced mountains of adversity and were constantly mocked and harassed about how terrible they were. That’s what makes being a Coug so special, no matter how hard the world swings at you, no matter the obstacles you face, Washington State is a family and they are there to tell you they believe in you and help you through the toughest times with love and support.
I think Deone Bucannon said it best when asked looking back at these last 4 years what was the low point?
"“I know through all the losses you may think that, okay we’re down and we’re out but it’s never been that way. You know with our team and how we are, it’s like we have a respect between each other that we’re going to do whatever we can to fight for that guy next to us and that’s what we pride ourselves on. No matter what it seems like, it’s not that bad, we’re here and we have each other”."
It’s been fun folks! I really have enjoyed bringing you these trend articles for yet another year and I’m pleased to be bringing you this BOWL EDITION. I appreciate all the feedback you readers have given me and I can’t tell you how honored I am to be a part of this great writing team at All Coug’d Up and writing for this amazing University.
Let’s bring home the New Mexico Bowl… GO COOOOOUUUGGGGS!