After a disappointing 1-2 start to the 2016 season, the Washington State Cougars need to win five out of their last nine games to make it to the program’s second straight bowl game.
The Cougars next nine games are against Pac-12 opponents and wins are going to be hard to come by. Especially since the first three conference games come against teams that won eight or more games last season, and entered 2016 with pre-season rankings in the top 25. Overall WSU’s remaining schedule has the team facing six teams that went to bowl games last season, and the defending conference champion.
We’re going to rate how winnable the games appear to be using fire emojis (Hint: the more emojis the better the odds of winning the game).
Oregon Ducks, Oct. 1
What to expect: Oregon walks into Martin Stadium looking to revenge its loss in 2015. Heading into this season, the Ducks have a new defensive coordinator — he’s not happy with his defense so far — and there has been some moderate improvements over the course of the season, their defense is still a major question mark. And that defense will be going up against an experienced Luke Falk and Gabe Marks. This is a game that will probably develop into a shoot out, and the team that has the ball last is going to win.
At Stanford Cardinal, Oct. 8
What to expect: Stanford gets to face the Cougars a week after playing No. 9 Washington. WSU’s best chance is going to be if the Cardinal over look this game…and that’s unlikely considering how Washington State only lost by a field goal last season.
UCLA Bruins, Oct. 15
What to expect: UCLA makes a rare trip up to the Palouse to try to earn revenge for their loss in Pasadena, Calif. last season. The Bruins played dirty at home last season, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see that continue on the road. This is probably another game where the team that has the ball last is going to win.
At Arizona State Sun Devils, Oct. 22
What to expect: Washington State always seems to lay a turd in the desert; whether it’s the 1997 squad, or 2012’s. Yes, the Cougars handled ASU at home last season, but don’t expect that to happen on the road.
At Oregon State Beavers, Oct. 29
What to expect: A rebuilding Oregon State squad was no match for Washington State in 2015. The game between these to teams should be a little closer this season; because OSU is better than they were last season and it’s in Corvallis.
Arizona Wildcats, Nov. 5
What to expect: Arizona’s offense really hasn’t found its grove yet in 2016, and the defense has been feeling the heat. If the Wildcats are still struggling offensively by this point, WSU’s offense is going to need put up points in one hell of a hurry.
California Golden Bears, Nov. 12
What to expect: Two struggling secondaries will get to face two pass heavy offenses. Approximately all of the points are going to be scored by both teams. Let’s just hope this game doesn’t come down to fake punt again.
At Colorado Buffaloes, Nov. 19
What to expect: A road trip against an improving Colorado squad…this feels like a trap game. This game is going to be extremely important for the Cougs to win if the program is going to make it to a bowl game this season.
No. 9 Washington Huskies, Nov. 25
What to expect: Outside of a flukey fourth quarter in the 2012 Apple Cup, Washington State has been out played and out coached in the annual rivalry game. It wouldn’t surprise me to see this continue this season against a (currently, but probably overrated) top 10 squad.
There are two should wins, a lot of toss-up games, and two games it would be extremely surprising to see the Cougars win at this point in the season. To get back to a bowl game, WSU is going to have to beat OSU and Colorado, and hope that three of the four toss-up games break their way to earn another bowl berth…those odds really aren’t that good.