Does anyone care about Washington State football anymore? I do (sort of). I'm not really sure why, but the Cougars still have my interest despite being one of the worst teams in college football at 1-9.
WSU wraps up its home slate on Saturday against Oregon State. Kickoff is scheduled for 2pm in Pullman. It's Senior Day on the Palouse. 15 WSU players will walk through the tunnel at Martin Stadium for the last time. Be sure to check out my previous blog for much more on the senior class (including an uncut interview with senior center Kenny Alfred).
Unfortunately for the seniors, this could be the most pathetic crowd in Martin Stadium history. Thanksgiving break starts for the students after they finish class on Friday. There is no reason for them to stick around to watch this football game. The alumni section was mostly empty last weekend against UCLA (and it was Dad's Weekend) and I expect it to be even worse this weekend. I even have a ticket in my hand, but I won't be using it (I said the Cougs still have my interest...I'm not going to waste another Saturday watching a game).
Oregon State (now No. 19 in the BCS standings) has as much chance as anyone in the Pac-10 to earn a trip to the Rose Bowl. The Beavers are 7-3 overall; 5-2 in the conference. That's good enough for third place behind Oregon and Stanford.
OSU has a high powered offense (and I feel like that's an understatement), averaging 407 total yards per game. The star of the show is sophomore running back Jacquizz Rodgers. The little guy (he's only 5'7" 191 lbs.) has rushed for 1,148 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. The only other person to make much noise in the running game is Jacquizz's brother James (he's actually a wide receiver), who has accumulated 244 rushing yards and a touchdown this year.
Sean Canfield is the Beavers starting quarterback. He's completed nearly 70-percent of his passes this season for 2,566 yards (256.6 ypg) and 17 touchdowns. He's only thrown five interceptions all year. His top target is the aforementioned James Rodgers. He's nabbed 71 passes for 832 yards and eight touchdowns. Damola Adeniji is the next best wide receiver, reeling in 42 balls for 583 yards and three TDs. Tight end Joe Halahuni (28 catches for 418 yards) and Jacquizz Rodgers (62 receptions for 397 yards) are also actively involved in the passing game.
Just like many other Pac-10 teams, OSU has a strong offense, but a mediocre defense. The Beavers allow 355.4 total yards per game (102.4 on the ground; 253 through the air). They also allow 23.4 points per game.
It doesn't matter how less-than-stellar their defense is, because Washington State still won't be able to move the ball against them (I hate to sound like a pessimist...I think I'm being a realist). Kevin Lopina will start at quarterback (I never thought I'd type that again) for the injured Jeff Tuel (I hope they are just resting him for the Apple Cup now). In fact, the Cougars are so banged up by injuries and suspensions (Jason Stripling and Toby Turpin this week) that they'll only have 45 players available for Saturday's game (they have 75 scholarship athletes).
This game could get really ugly in a hurry. If it doesn't, WSU fans should look at that as an accomplishment. I'm not really sure what to predict. The Beavers are only favored by 31 points. That might be the easiest money around. I love the Cougars, but I think they are going to get crushed by Oregon State 56-7 this weekend (if not worse).
I already mentioned that we talked to Kenny Alfred this week at practice, but we also interviewed head coach Paul Wulff (click on his name to watch his uncut sound).
That's all I have for now as far as football is concerned. My only other comment is about the men's basketball team.
Who doesn't love Klay Thompson right now? The dude lit up Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne for a career-high 37 points on Thursday (I realize it was only IPFW, but he was on fire). Check out highlights of his big game. He'll be the key to the season for WSU.