Cougars should play like they have nothing to lose
By Jim Moore
I’ve never met Cale Ramaker, but we’ve had email and Twitter exchanges over the past few years.
Ramaker is a TV news anchor in Las Vegas who used to work at another TV station in Orlando. During Washington State’s worst years – 2008-2012 – he lived in Orlando and still traveled to every Cougar game. This has to make him one of the greatest Cougs ever – and here’s the catch: as I recall, Ramaker grew up in Spokane as a rabid Coug fan but actually went to school at Arizona.
I’m trying to picture myself in his shoes during the 2008 and 2009 seasons when we redefined awful. I just can’t imagine getting on another plane to fly to Corvallis or Tucson to watch another pounding after watching one the week before. We had no chance of winning most of our games in those two seasons, yet Ramaker got on the planes and traveled across the country to watch us lose again and again.
I bring him up this week because we have no chance of winning our next game Saturday against Oregon in Eugene. Everyone knows we’re going to get clobbered. Oddsmakers favor the Ducks by 38.5 points. If you bet $100 on the Cougars straight up without the points and they somehow beat the Ducks, you’d win $15,000.
So the odds are 150-1 against us winning. Now let me ask you this: don’t you think if we played the Ducks 150 times, we’d beat them once? You don’t? I do.
There’s a chance that Connor Halliday and our receivers could be so hot they’d outscore the Ducks 65-62 in one of those 150 games. Granted, I also understand that Halliday might be so cold that we’d get beat 85-3 in one of those 150 games.
In terms of research, it didn’t make sense to me to look at any factors in this game when we all know that Oregon holds an edge in every department aside from place-kicking. But as much as I like Andrew Furney, I hope we go for it on every fourth down in Ducks territory. This is operating on a large assumption that we cross the 50 at some point.
We need to go for six every chance we get. Threes aren’t going to cut it against the Ducks. And if that means we get a zero when we’re trying for six and fail to pick up the first down, fine.
In pointspread terms, this would be one of the biggest upsets in college football history. It would also be the biggest upset in Cougar football history.
Led by Chris Dyko on the offensive line, we beat Troy Aikman and the No. 1-ranked Bruins in 1988, but we were 19-point underdogs and we’re double the dog against the second-ranked Ducks.
It seems like it’s been forever since we’ve beaten the Ducks, but we’ve only got a six-game losing streak to Oregon compared to the Dawgs’ 10-gamer.
I remember being in the pressbox the last time we beat them at Autzen Stadium in 2003. What a beautiful day that was. We led 38-2 at halftime, taking advantage of seven Oregon turnovers. The Ducks finished with nine turnovers and two blocked punts.
I can still picture all the Duck fans leaving at halftime and enjoying the heck out of that. The Ducks were flying high, appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated after winning at Michigan the week before.
Going farther back, in 1976, I drove with some buddies to Eugene to watch the Cougs beat the Ducks 23-22 on a Jack Thompson-to-Mike Levenseller 40-yard touchdown pass followed by a Throwin’ Samoan two-point conversion pass to tight end Eason Ramson.
We went to a party at a Duck football player’s apartment that night. All of the players were subdued, and I remember that my buddies and I kept going outside on the patio to refill our beers from the keg and whisper about the final drive and two-point conversion so the players inside wouldn’t hear us.
Thirty-seven years later, things have changed a bit. I’m trying to figure out if I even want to go to the game.
I was excited the other day when I got my media credential and parking pass in the mail. I showed it to my kids, and they were saying: “Dad, you have to go!” But my kids have a game against Skyline, and I don’t want to miss that. But I want to watch the Cougs, too. What if they pulled off the miracle and I wasn’t there?
Then again, I’ve pictured myself walking out of Autzen Stadium at around 10:30 Saturday night, saying: “What was I thinking?” after we lose 65-10 and driving to a Super 8 in Salem or Corvallis while looking at my dog and shaking my head.
I know this: Ramaker will be there. He’s a better Coug than I am.
Here’s what I’m hoping for: just let me see the Oregon punter three times. That’s all I’m asking for – three lousy times. The guy never shows his face. If he’s on the field three times, that means we stopped them three times. If we stop them three times, we’ll cover the spread and might even make a game of it for awhile.
And as far as Halliday goes, I hope he keeps flinging it Saturday night. I understand that his flinging-it tendencies gets him in trouble – Halliday leads the country with 11 interceptions.
But he gives us our best chance to win or at least be competitive. Here’s my advice to Halliday: Don’t be shy, Connor. Keep flinging it. And if it doesn’t work out, oh well, no one expected us to beat the Ducks anyway.
Prediction: Ducks 48, Cougs 20.
Season record against the spread:4-3.
The Go 2 Guy also writes for his website, jimmoorethego2guy.com, and kitsapsun.com. You can reach Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.