I didn't really get a chance to digest any of the Cougar football game this past Saturday against San Diego State for a couple reasons. First, I was unable to watch it due to other commitments and secondly, I can only pass so much judgment listening to snippets of the broadcast. As much as I love Bob Robertson, he doesn't quite give you all the details about every particular play and so I don't want to make big sweeping generalizations about the game without having, you know, seen it.
But from the sounds of it, just about everything collapsed in the second half. The defense started to bend and break and the offense continued to stumble. And, extrapolating from there, it sounds like there was a distinct lack of half time adjustments in one locker room and there were plenty of them in the other. Then adding up turnovers, mental lapses and a more senior team on the other side of the football, it doesn't end well for the Cougars.
So after the first three games, this team is pretty much where I figured they'd be - 2-1. Many fans were underestimating just how good SDSU was but that's not an excuse for the Cougars laying an egg in most of the second half. It comes down to the coaches no adjusting with a lead and not going to the run like they should have or at least that's my opinion.
But now, the road to that bowl game gets a heck of a lot harder. Right now the feeling is Tuel would likely be back for the homecoming game against Stanford. Now, even though they just lost their best defensive player, they still have this dude on the other side of the ball who is quite good in Andrew Luck. Cal is looking better than I thought they would be and Utah went all "fire at will" on BYU in the Holy War last week. And I still have no idea what to make of Arizona State but all I know is they are better on both sides of the football.
So here is what we're left with if a bowl game is the ultimate goal (or at least becoming bowl eligible anyhow): as far as I'm concerned, the winnable games are Colorado, UCLA, Oregon State and Washington. At this point, Oregon State looks almost assured with how truly terrible that team is. And UCLA is damn close because they look atrocious as well. And in that game the Cougars will need to only worry about stuffing the run because Richard Brehaut or Kevin Prince will be the quarterback and both are on about my level when it comes to quarterback skills. Colorado improved against Colorado State but they still struggled for about 45 minutes against their far inferior rival. And Washington is a toss-up every season no matter how good or bad the teams are.
That's the scary thing then. All of those games just became must win because I don't know where any other wins on the schedule are going to come from. I really think you're kidding yourself if you think this team can beat Stanford, Arizona State, Utah, Cal or Oregon (definitely not Oregon. That's a "let's get out of here with as few injuries as possible" game). Seriously, consider that. The Cougars can't lose to either UCLA or Colorado, otherwise you can pretty much right off their bowl hopes.
Then we get to my other concern. Without a bowl berth, head coach Paul Wulff is almost assuredly asking where he can go to apply for an unemployment check. Then whatever coach Moos chooses to bring in after him already has a wealth of talent to use at his disposal and say that coach grabs eight wins and the Cougs are in the Las Vegas Bowl. Is Wulff forever forgotten? There's no debating whatsoever that this team has gotten more talented. And people can point to Robb Akey over at Idaho all they want but I can personally guarantee if Wulff had gotten to play Louisiana Tech and non-conference opponents like Northern Illinois every year, this whole rebuild wouldn't have taken nearly as long.
So there's my concern. There's no doubt in my mind that Wulff is a faithful Coug who has put everything he has into this program. He's done it his way all along and he has certainly been completely unapologetic about it. And if, at the end of this year, the team hasn't improved enough, he'll surely be out of a job. And when the next guy comes along and wins eight games, do people simply say that Wulff was always wrong for the job and this was the guy? I understand why many people dislike the guy but I'm scared that will carry over into never giving him any credit for the rebuild of this team.
Here's what it takes then Paul: you have to win the next two games. And after that, you've gotta beat Oregon State and get lucky against someone. So fingers crossed you keep me a happy camper next week when the Cougs visit Boulder.
Last Week: 9-1 Overall: 29-3
This has got to be the crappiest football game on the slate all year. Out of principle for how bad these teams are, I'm actually not going to acknowledge they exist next Saturday.
UCLA 6, Oregon State 5
The big litmus test for USC because they have looked only moderately good all season.
USC 24, Arizona State 10
Ohio State 42, Colorado 10
This one also will not be going well for one particular team.
Oregon 54, Arizona 13
I don't know what to make of this one. It'll come down to how upright Price can stay; be it via sacks or if his knees give out.
Washington 28, California 24
Obscure Pick of the Week: Holy cow this matchup seems so 16th century. I think that's because it is.
St. Olaf College 21, Gustavus Adolphus 17
Dunderhead of the Week: The Carl's Jr. that just opened up not five miles down the freeway from my house. This isn't a bad thing ordinarily but right now I'm on a diet. So I've got that place tempting me just 10 minutes away. And I'm trying to get LESS fat. Fantastic.
And, of course, John Buccigross.
+++++++sponsored by Greg Davis Sports Photography+++++++++
The 2011-12 athletic season is here and you know what that means It's time for a whole new season of Cougar Athletics! Football, soccer and volleyball, just to name a few, are playing their 2011 seasons. If you need "game action" photographs for your newspaper, magazine, web site, blog, etc., then Greg Davis Sports Photography should be your choice for all things "Cougar" and "Pac-10 Conference"! Coverage for specific athletes or upcoming events is also available. Check out the images from games, practices and events from last season, and be sure to come back often for uploads from all of this season's action.