While the Cougars were polishing off a 52-23 win over the Beavers, I was encouraged by what was going on in L.A., where Texas was giving USC a surprisingly good game. The Longhorns, as 17-point underdogs, almost won in regulation and lost in double overtime, but I say it was encouraging because the Cougars face USC on Sept. 29 at Martin Stadium.
I’ve looked at that game for a long time and thought that even if the Cougs are 4-0 when they play USC, they’ll probably be 4-1 after they play USC because the Trojans are supposed to be so good with Sam Darnold at quarterback that they can beat every team on their schedule. I assumed that we’d come back to earth in a big way when we played USC.
But after watching Texas stand up to USC, I’m thinking the Cougs have a reasonable shot of upsetting the Trojans on a Friday night in Pullman. If a 17-point underdog can almost beat USC, why can’t a single-digit underdog like the Cougs beat USC at home?
I like the idea of a Friday night game at Martin Stadium – I’m thinking about yanking the kids out of school and driving over Friday morning – but I wish this game were being played on Saturday. If that were the case, I think ESPN’s College GameDay would be in Pullman for a matchup of two unbeaten teams that are ranked No. 4 and No. 18 in the country. We’ve been waiting for GameDay to come to Pullman for what seems like forever, and this would have been the perfect spot for it to happen. Instead, we’ll get to see our crimson-and-gray flags flying in the background of the TV set at another site for the 199th consecutive week, and I’m hoping Kirk Herbstreit and his broadcasting buddies will be talking about the surprising win by the Cougs the night before.
I guess we could call it a consolation prize if GameDay shows up for the Oregon game in Eugene on Oct. 7, which could happen if the Cougs beat Nevada this week and USC next week, and Oregon beats Arizona State this week and Cal next week. It’s still not Pullman, but it would be fun to see if Lee Corso decides to pick the Cougs by putting on Butch’s head and enraging Duck fans.
Speaking of Corso, I watched parts of GameDay on Saturday and I’m concerned about his future on the show. He appears to be slipping, and it’s sad to see. Maybe it was just an off-day, and I know a lot about those, not to mention off-weeks and off-months. I certainly hope that’s the case.
As for the Cougs, I was a little worried about the Oregon State game mainly because we were favored by 21 points. I can’t remember the last time we were favored by three touchdowns over a Pac-12 opponent. Yet I understood why – the Beavers have looked awful in their first three games, and we’ve been pretty explosive.
It played out the way I hoped it would – an easy win for the most part with Luke Falk ending talk of a quarterback controversy by throwing six touchdown passes and looking like Luke Falk again. He was indecisive against Boise State and was benched for a series, but the accuracy came back against the Beavers as Tavares Martin Jr. and Isaiah Johnson-Mack combined for 19 catches and 273 receiving yards.
My only issue with Falk, and I don’t know how you solve it, but this guy has got to learn how to cushion his falls when he gets hit. Maybe that’s unrealistic, but it sure seems like every time he gets sacked, he takes the full brunt of it; it’s never a partial hit, it always seems like he gets nailed, and then we get replays of his helmet bouncing hard off the turf.
The worst news is hearing about linebacker Peyton Pelluer, out for the season after breaking his foot. I don’t know how that’s going to impact the Cougar defense, but that’s bound to be a setback. This week it won’t matter, however, because Nevada arrives as a 28-point underdog after falling to 0-3 following Saturday’s loss to Idaho State.