College Football Predictions – Washington St Cougars 2019 College Football Preview
Record – 11-2
ATS – 9-4
The Washington St Cougars are one of the more underappreciated teams around. They just bagged 11 wins for the first time in school history and have tallied 37 victories over the past four campaigns. Of course, there is still some disappointment in the air as the Cougars lost in the Apple Cup (again), and that makes nine defeats at the hands of the Washington Huskies in the last 10 years. Argh.
It’s hard to believe that Mike Leach is entering his eighth season in Pullman. Time flies. Is this the year the Cougars finally get over the hump and win the PAC-12 North?
2019 MEGALOCKS Opening Power Rating
North Division – #2
PAC 12 – #3
Washington St Cougars 2019 Outlook
“Here we go again. Again.” <Tugg Speedman> <Scorcher 6 – Global Meltdown>
The Cougars need to reload at QB yet AGAIN with the departure of excellent porn-stached QB Gardner Minshew who threw for 4,779 yards (!) (#2 FBS) and 38 TDs a season ago. Mike Leach just keeps finding productive signal callers that can jump right in and run the offense with ruthless efficiency. This year the role of NEW AMAZING QB goes to senior Gage Gubrud who transferred over from Eastern Washington where he was phenomenal (almost 10,000 passing yards in just 29 starts). Gubrud will be throwing to one of the best WR groups in the conference and the top-three in receptions all return for battle.
The Cougars just run enough to keep things honest but lose last season’s leading rusher James Williams. The BIG news about that loss is that Williams bagged an amazing 83 (!) receptions a season ago which led all RBs and he was tied for 17th in the entire FBS. In fact, #2 on the RB receptions list only hauled in 53 passes. Who was ranked #2? Teammate RB Max Borghi who returns to the fold for the Cougars this year. Depth at RB is a question mark, however. The offensive line had a legendary season in terms of pass protection last year. They allowed a mere 13 sacks in close to 700 (!) pass attempts. Yes, there were a lot of short passes but that is still impressive. Four starters return to the OL unit but they lose star LT Andre Dillard (#1 NFL DC – Eagles).
Washington St will have a potent offense once again and we expect a similar level of production as the prior year (37.5 PPG).
“Offense” is what people think of when they ponder the merits of Washington St football. That isn’t necessarily wrong BUT consider that the Cougars have had a really good defense for the past four seasons. They have decreased their PPG allowed in every campaign since the 2014 (!) season (38.6, 27.7, 26.4, 25.8, 23.3). They also led the PAC-12 in sacks last season (38) and not many people would have guessed that, yo.
Things look pretty good on this side of the ball once again with six returning starters and eight of their top-12 tacklers back in the fold. The bad news is that they lose their leader and tackling machine LB Peyton Pelluer. LB Jahad Woods is a fine player and the DL will be buoyed by the addition of NT Lamonte McDougle who transferred from West Virginia. The secondary loses their starting CB combo which is not a positive but they do boast one of the best safeties in the conference in senior Jalen Thompson who led the squad with 8 PBU a season ago.
The defense might be down a slight notch, but much like the Oregon defense, this stop unit looks good enough to support a charge at the division crown.
Things look really good as they bring back solid senior P Oscar Draguicevich as well as PK Blake Mazza who hit 10/15 FG attempts in 2018. Travell Harris is a dangerous KO return man.
Overall – There is good news and bad news. They should be able to get off to a 4-0 start with home dates vs New Mexico St, N Colorado, and UCLA. They take on the Houston Cougars at NRG Stadium in week 3. Bad news? They have three super-tough conference road tests (Utah, Oregon, Washington).
Potential ATS Trouble Spot – at California (November 9)
Washington St has scored a combined 22 (!) points in their last two battles with the Golden Bears. They got pasted in Berkeley back in 2017 by a score of 37-3.
Season Win Total
Over 8 -115
Under 8 -105
Lean to the over at that number. The road docket is tough but there is no reason to think that a team this talented can’t get to 9 wins.
The Cougars play home games on campus at Martin Stadium which opened in 1972. The site actually dates back to 1892 when it was called Soldier Field.
With a 28-26 win over #24 Iowa State in the Alamo Bowl, Washington State won 11 games for the first time in school history and finished the season 11-2.
MEGALOCKS ATS Outlook: Positive
The Cougars have a really balanced squad and a realistic shot of going into the Apple Cup with a shot to take down the PAC-12 North. Then again, the Washington Huskies appear to be their KRYPTONITE. And Oregon is also gonna have something to say about the proceedings.
We have slightly positive vibes about the ATS prospects for the Cougars. DEGENERATE NATION is on to these guys by now BUT they might still slide under the radar when play the tougher teams on their schedule. Keep in mind that Washington St is 56% vs Vegas during the seven-year Mike Leach reign and they are a very impressive 18-8 as road dogs over that time horizon. Go Cougs!
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Texas Bowl – Washington St vs Iowa St
We have a mighty fine match-up in the Texas Bowl this season as Washington St does battle with Iowa St. The Cougars come into this contest with a record of 10-2 (!) with the only losses coming to USC on the road (by 3 points….easily could have won that bad boy) and the Apple Cup loss to Washington in the snow to end the campaign. Iowa St got off to a sluggish start but have rattled off seven wins in their last eight games. Their only loss in that timespan was to a really good Texas team on the road.
Washington St -2.5 Iowa St (56.5)
MEGALOCKS LINE – Washington St -4
Vegas” Implied Projected Score: Washington St 29.5 Iowa St 27
Washington St offense vs Iowa St defense
This is shaping up to be a really fascinating match-up. QB Gardner Minshew has been excellent this season throwing for almost 4,500 yards and 36 TDs with only 9 (!) INT in 613 attempts. The Cougars are really hard to defend because they distribute the ball well in the THROW GAME (9 players on the team with 280+ receiving yards) and RB James Williams has 76 receptions. The rushing attack is a bit of an afterthought but they have still managed to rush for 22 TDs this year. Iowa St has been decent vs the pass (#3 Big 12 pass efficiency D) but have only bagged 8 INTs all season. Iowa St will have to do their best job of getting pressure on the QB and they have registered over 30 sacks. It’s not easy to get to Minshew but the Cyclones should be able to PENETRATE and bag a sack two or three times. Then they need to get off the field.
Iowa St offense vs Washington St defense
QB Brock Purdy took over under center in October and the Cyclones responded well. Purdy has completed 66% (!) of his passes with a fine 16-5 TD to INT ratio and is also the teams’ #2 rusher. WR Hakeem Butler is one of the best WRs in the Big 12 and averages and obscene 22 (!) yards per reception. RB David Montgomery runs with the WHITE HOT INTENSITY OF 1000 SUNS and provides excellent balance for the offense. The depth is not great at WR or RB but the Cyclones are still efficient enough to move the ball (#22 passing efficiency FBS). Washington St is sound defensively (#35 vs the run, #52 pass efficiency D) and are #1 (!!) in the PAC 12 in sacks per game. Iowa St is #104 in total offense and are lucky to have their key TRIPLETS healthy for this game so we expect decent production (mid-high 20s) but nothing spectacular.
Trends, Intangibles and More!
Mike Leach is just 6-7 SU in bowl games and 1-3 SU with the Cougars (W 20-14 over Miami in the 2015 Sun Bowl)….Iowa St had a fine run to end the regular season but their last five wins came vs Texas Tech, KU, Baylor, Kansas St and something called Drake.
The motivation angle favors the Cyclones. You KNOW they will be intense and are happy to be here. Washington St? They have laid a few bowl eggs lately but keep in mind that this is still a REALLY talented team that finished 10-2. We think the line is a bit short.
Official play: None.
Side: Lean to Washington St.
Total: Slight leanage to the over.
‘Lean’ implies we are comfortable suggesting ‘small potatoes’ on the game. Nothing more. < but always stay tuned for updates >
‘Slight lean’ implies we are almost certain to avoid the game and/or total from a betting standpoint even for ‘small potatoes’. We give an opinion for those who need to get down and want advice.
College Football Predictions – Washington St Cougars 2018 NCAA Football Preview
Record – 9-4
ATS – 7-6
The Cougars started out on SUPAH HOT FIRE winning their first six games. That streak included a 3-OT classic vs Boise St and an upset victory over USC. They got taken behind the WOODSHED by Cal (L 37-3) and gave up 58 (!) to Arizona before rebounding with quality wins over Stanford and Utah. They had a shot at making the PAC 12 title game but got blown to bits by the Huskies in the regular season finale.
2018 MEGALOCKS Opening Power Rating
North Division – #5
PAC 12 – #11
Washington St Cougars 2018 Outlook
This season will truly test the ability of the Cougs to lock and load with new quarterbacks. Luke Falk is off to the NFL (Titans) and he finished his college career as Washington St’s all-time leading passer (30 TD, 3,593 yards LY). The new man for the job? It is going be a multi-armed battle during fall camp. A few of the contestants are East Carolina transfer Gardner Minshew and junior Trey Tinsley. The WR group is without their top two targets from the 2017 campaign as both Tavares Martin (70, 831, 9 TD) and Isaiah Johnson-Mack (60-555, 5 TD) have transferred from the program. They can usually cobble together a decent WR unit but this season may be a bit more challenging. The good news is that RB James Williams caught 71 (!) passes out of the backfield last year and provides a nice safety valve.
Washington St rushed for just 68 (!) yards per game last year which was 2nd worst in the FBS (Western Kentucky). They also allowed 44 sacks which is too many, even in a pass-happy offense. The OL returns just a pair of starters this season and we find it hard to see them improving much in 2018.
There aren’t too many people who would guess that the #2 defense in the PAC 12 last season was none other than YOUR Washington St Cougars (323 YPG). There may be trouble on the horizon as they lose star DL Hercules Mata’afa who bagged an amazing 22.5 TFL and 6 QBH in 2017. It can’t be understated how impactful he was to the stop unit. They do return their top-2 tacklers including 1st Team PAC 12 member Jalen Thompson and six starters overall. Another positive is the return of most of the key members of a secondary that was excellent last season allowing just 11 TD passes (!) (#2 PAC 12) and 54% completions (#1 PAC 12). The question becomes, how will the departure of Hercules impact the pass defense? The Cougars will have to find a way to keep pressure on opposing QBs.
This is going to be a problem area. Washington St will be without their excellent PK Erik Powell (20/24 FG LY), and they were #100 in net punting last season and #116 in both KR and PR. We don’t use the analogy of a GREASE FIRE often but it may be appropriate in this situation.
Overall – It’s not too bad. The non-conference docket should go smoothly (at Wyoming, San Jose St, E Washington), but then again, Wyoming is tougher than a $3 steak and Eastern Washington beat the Cougars in 2016 as four-TD underdogs. It will help to only have five road games, and just four after September 1st.
Potential ATS Trouble Spot – Nothing noted.
Season Win Total
Over 6.5 -110
Under 6.5 -120
Strong lean to the under as we approach press time. It’s hard to go against Mike Leach who always seems to get to bowl games, but seven wins feels like a bit of a reach.
The Cougars’ only Rose Bowl triumph came back in 1915 when they dominated the pesky Brown Bruins 14-0.
MEGALOCKS ATS Value Rating (10) 1.0
Overall, we give the COUGARS a 1.0 ATS Value Rating (Avoid) this season.
The Cougars bring a relatively inexperienced squad into the competitive PAC 12 North this season. We understand that Mike Leach can probably coach-up a bunch of scrubs and get 6+ wins and 30 points per game, but there is too much uncertainty for our liking. There are question marks at QB, on the offensive line and on defense where they lose a phenomenal presence on the DL.
Washington St recorded a 13-13 mark vs Vegas the past two seasons despite boasting a very good win-loss record of 17-9. This feels like a year where they take a step backwards and we recommend avoiding them most weeks vs the point spread.
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Washington St Cougars 2016 NCAA Football Preview
WASHINGTON ST COUGARS
PAC-12 Conference – North Division
2015 Record – 9-4
ATS – 10-3
2016 MEGALOCKS Opening Power Rating Rank
North Division #4
Now THAT was what we had hoped to see out of a Mike Leach coached team. They had a fine 9-win season, and to put things in perspective, from 2008 to 2011 they had a grand total of NINE wins. They started out slow losing to Portland St (!) and slithering past Rutgers, but after week four, they really caught fire. They beat Oregon, Arizona and UCLA on the road and then finished up with a Sun Bowl victory over Miami.
This should be fun. QB Luke Falk did not even play a full season and still put up video game numbers (4,500 yards, 38 TD, 8 INT) in 2015. Falk returns to lead a loaded offense that returns 8 starters from last year’s team. Almost the entire WR corps from 2015 is back including star Gabe Marks who hauled in 104 balls for 1,192 yards and 15 TDs. The offensive line gave up 41 sacks last season, but all things being considered, that is not bad given the Cougars threw the ball over 700 times last season.
Washington St doubled their rushing yards per game from 2014 to 2015. The problem is that they still ranked 127th in the FBS. Now to be clear, this offense is not predicated on the run game picking up a lot of yards, but if they could just crack the 100 per game barrier it would help keep defenses a bit more honest.
The defense was the difference last year. We have always said, if you have a team with a high-powered offense, you just need your defense to be average or a bit better to have a successful campaign. Washington St held their opponents to less than 30 points per game (27.7) for the first time seemingly since the Nixon administration, and the results showed up in the win column SU (9) and ATS (10).
The Cougars return a fine LB corps including leading tackler from 2015, Peyton Pelluer. The secondary was sneaky-good last season only allowing 13 TD passes while picking off 13. Three starters return to this group and they should be good once again.
The big worry is the defensive line which helped lead the Cougars to an impressive sack total of 33 (rank #30 FBS, 6th PAC 12) last year. The run defense is a concern of ours, and overall, Washington St loses four of their top 5 sack guys from the 2015 team. So it comes down to this. Find a way to pressure the QB like you did last season or else the secondary will get exposed.
Last season was a bit of a dud as the Cougars finished in the bottom third of the PAC 12 in net punting, punt returns and kickoff returns. PK Erik Powell did a fine job (20/26), but overall, they need to get a lot better on special teams if they want to take a crack at winning the division.
MEGALOCKS ATS Value Rating (10) 7.0
Legitimate expectations. That is how we feel about the Cougars this season. Their offense is going to be fantastic. We can easily see them scoring 35+ points per game (31.5, 31.8, 31.0 L3Y) but the defense has to be on par with last season’s unit for them to take a step forward in 2016. The schedule is pretty manageable other than a 3-week stretch where they face Oregon, Stanford, and UCLA. Then again, they did beat Oregon and UCLA on the road last year.
Overall, we give the COUGARS a 7.0 ATS Value Rating (Good) this season. Fine. I guess we will drink the Kool Aid. Washington St went 9-15 ATS in 2012 and 2014 combined. In 2013 and 2015 they were a combined 19-7 ATS (!). The offense is going to very difficult to stop, but in our opinion, whether or not this team can be a money maker hinges on the play of the DL. We enjoyed backing the Cougars last season after almost a decade of being in the MEGALOCKS PENALTY BOX. They are worth keeping on your watch list again.
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https://twitter.com/JacobThorpeSR @JacobThorpeSR Jacob Thorpe
https://twitter.com/StefanieLoh @StefanieLoh Stefanie Loh