This was supposed to be the final tune-up before an undefeated Washington State University football team (3-0) played host to an undefeated University of Oregon football team (3-0, #2 in the country) in front of a sold-out, standing-room-only Martin Stadium. This was supposed to be the day where WSU started 3-0 for the first time since 2005-2006. This was supposed to be a glorious day – one where we unveiled our new, glorious Martin Stadium and all of its vast, glorious improvements while gloriously dominating Portland State. (To be fair, it may still be a glorious day and I’m definitely excited to see our new crimson end zones).
Instead, it’s a lowly matchup between two football teams who may struggle to find wins the rest of the year. Instead, it’s a matchup between a Cougar team that is grasping at straws simply in order to salvage a season that began with so much hope. After two inexplicable losses to Rutgers and Nevada to begin the season, WSU will attempt to win their first game of the season for the third time.
The Cougs will face off against a Portland State team who gave Pac-12 foe Oregon State all they could handle in Week 1, before eventually falling to the Beavs. The Vikings also barely squeaked past Western Oregon a week later, 45-38. So, under normal circumstances, it would be safe to say that this game will be a cakewalk for WSU. One of the most prolific offenses in the Pac-12 should easily put up points against a team that gave up 38 points to a Division II team just one week ago. However, with the way things have gone this season (and, to be honest, the last 5+ years), WSU fans will understandably never feel confident enough to make such a statement until the team proves otherwise.
After back-to-back embarrassing performances, I want to believe that WSU will come out fired up and ready to play from the first snap behind its home crowd. I want to believe that Connor Halliday & Co. will be firing on all cylinders from the get go. I want to believe that the young, promising offensive line will finally begin to gel. I want to believe that we’ll show some signs of life in our running game. I want to believe that our defense, led by Xavier Cooper and a motivated Darryl Monroe, will create pressure up front and force several turnovers. I want to believe that we will go into halftime with a comfortable double-digit lead and that Martin Stadium will be rocking on this beautiful night on the Palouse.
I want to believe that the second half will be more of the same, and that we’ll be able to get our first real glimpse of Luke Falk, our potential QB of the future. I want to believe that Portland State will fall to 0-14 all-time against Pac-12 schools. I want to believe that we’ll head into our matchup against Oregon with one win and a healthy boost in confidence. I want to believe. I really, really do.
However, as I’ve learned throughout my short seven years as a Coug, we don’t always get what we hope for. In fact, we rarely ever get what we want. But that’s what makes sports so great. When you stick with your team through the lowest of lows, you will appreciate everything exponentially greater when they reach the highest of highs. I grew up in Los Angeles as a die-hard Lakers fan, watching the team raise five banners into the rafters. I also endured the entire tenure of Paul Wulff during my four years in Pullman, watching the team get blown out 66-3 every Saturday. I’ve been at both ends of the spectrum. For me, there is nowhere to go but up as a Coug fan (and sadly, as a Lakers fan right now as well). The team will continue to train hard. The coaching staff will continue to coach hard. And we, as fans and supporters of WSU, will need to continue to cheer hard. Win or lose, Cougs still booze choose…to root for WSU.