Zagco is making a few stylistics tweaks this week, as he continues his relentless pursuit of the perfect column. He deeply appreciates the kind words of encouragement he has received from so many of you.
Zagco will not be picking scores anymore. He is not a bookie. Scores are for stats guys and gambling addicts. Zagco is strictly a "big picture" guy.
Zagco's season record is 13-1.Idaho State University v. The Land Grant School
Where: Moscow, Idaho
When: Saturday, September 16, 2006, at 3:00 p.m. MT
Earth to Moscow: WTF?!?
After snatching defeat from the claws of victory against Michigan State two weeks ago, the Vandals really thought returning home to the Palouse would instill in them the same kind of invincibility that Tom Bombadil enjoys while in the Old Forest. I, for one, have not seen Vandal fans so optimistic since the week before they lined up to play the Spokane YMCA, a game which they won 28-0 and count in their all-time win-loss record of 419-509-25. At a press conference, a local reporter even asked Coach Erickson is he was worried about his players being "overconfident." I'm not joking. Alas, instead of defeating their arch-rivals from Pullman, the Vandals embarrassed themselves, the Western Athletic Conference, the State of Idaho, and the town drunk by making the Cougs look like an unrestrained Old Man Willow.
Zagco thinks that sports reporter Vince Grippi in his Spokesman-Review weblog "SportsLink" best described the Battle of Palouse as he wrote down his feelings right after the conclusion of the third quarter:
But back to the true garbage: Idaho's performance.
Ah, yes: The Vandals we know and love – crappy and dirty.
This week, the Vandals return to "The Kibbie Dome," a state of the art facility in the 1970s, to renew their heated rivalry with the Bengals of Idaho State University. It's a chance for the Vandals to get the old I-AA monkey off their backs, by snapping their four game losing streak to Big Sky teams dating back to September of 2000. However, the Bengals were a real fly in Dennis Erickson's martini back in the 80's, when they went 2-2 against his boys. I like Larry Lewis' coaching, and I think Idaho State's quarterback transfer from the Michigan Wolverines has found his groove in Pocatello. Still, they are I-AA (Idaho State). Moreover, it's been many, MANY years since Dennis Erickson coached a football team to a win, and I imagine he and his staffers are thirsty for a victory against the Bengals. Accordingly, I look for the Vandals to come out strong, play with fire and passion, and not completely humiliate their conference brethren. In a donnybrook, they should only fall just short in a close, respectable game to the I-AA Bengals.
"This gives us all the confidence in the world, no matter who we line up against."
Steven "May I have another one" Wichman on the Vandal loss to Michigan State, as quoted in The Spokesman-Review article entitled "Vandals Rein In Confidence," by Jim Meehan, September 6, 2006.
Fresno State Bulldogs v. The University of Really Expensive Boats Docked Near The Stadium
Where: Seattle, Washington
When: Saturday, September 16, 2006, at 4:30 p.m. MT (FSN)
Fresno played a tough, tough game last week, falling just short against the Ducks, an elite Pac-10 team. This week, they get the lowly Huskies, a team that tantalized its latte-sipping fans by playing close for awhile against Oklahoma, before imploding like Courtney Love at an awards show. Even though I really think Fresno is a superior team with a great running back and a young but dangerous quarterback, I worry about how they will handle the Oregon loss. Fresno defines itself by placing all its hopes and dreams on a couple games a year. This year, Oregon was one of those games. Plus, the Huskies need a win at home, especially against a team like Fresno. I think Fresno drops another close game.
Utah Utes v. Utah State Aggies
Where: Logan, Utah
When: Saturday, September 16, 2006, at 6:00 p.m. MT
Just as their stash was running low, the Aggies go home to Logan to face their in-state rivals, the Utes. This is good news, as the local judge was starting to get mad about all the Narcotics Anonymous meetings the Aggies missed during their lost weekends in Wyoming and Arkansas.
I like to tease the Aggies about The Serious Dope Smoking Problem in Utah, but I like them – they are friendly, laid-back types who wouldn't hurt a fly. The good news is that their defense, other than a bad fourth quarter in Wyoming, hasn't been half bad -- they only gave up 20 points to Arkansas! The bad news is that their offense has not scored a single, dingle point this year. The Utes came alive last week against I-AA Northern Arizona. Utes win with ease.
Texas-Southern Tigers v. New Mexico State Aggies
Where: Las Cruces, New Mexico
When: Saturday, September 16, 2006, at 5:00 p.m. MT
New Mexico State had to go and screw up Zagco's perfect record by dropping a home contest against their arch-rivals, squandering a chance to go 2-0 for the first time since 1999. I really thought they had it going on in Las Cruces, but NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! Still, they play a directional school this week, which means the Aggies should go to 2-1 for the first time since 1993.
University of Nevada at Las Vegas v. Hawai'i Rainbows
Where: Honolulu, Hawai'i
When: Saturday, September 16, 2006, at 1:30 p.m. MT (MTN)
The Rainbows return home to the Islands to play Vegas. Zagco loves the ‘bows, with their puking quarterback and Devone Bess, who is THE BOMB! There is still reason to be concerned about the defense, and the mid-season travel swoon awaits, but for now the ‘bows should have no trouble routing Vegas.
Colorado State Rams v. Nevada-Reno Wolfpack
Where: Reno, Nevada
When: Saturday, September 16, 2006, at 7:00 p.m. MT
The Rams were barely able to get by Coach Gandhi and the Water Buffaloes last week, a team that lost the week before to Montana State, which in turn dropped a home game to Chadron State (a division 2 team) this weekend, thus making Colorado quite possibly the worst college football team in American history. Reno's had two tough draws this year, which is an excuse of sorts. I am not at all sold on Reno or Chris Ault, a man who's been firing blanks all year. The world famous "pistol offense" just isn't living up to the hype. At home, Zagco thinks Chris Ault invents a win of sorts this week, keeping the fans from completely abandoning football for basketball for at least one more week.
Boise State Broncos v. Wyoming Cowboys
Where: Laramie, Wyoming
When: Saturday, September 16, 2006, at 6:00 p.m. MT
As a threshold matter, Zagco wants to shout out the Vandal fans that spent so much of their time last week making a totally hilarious fake Boise State logo, which I think we should adopt as a self-deprecating mascot of sorts. They say they are making t-shirts for the Boise State-Idaho game with this feller on it, and I sure hope they do, as I'd love to have one!
Last week, Wyoming's weakness was almost perfectly exploited by Virginia: Force them to go to their bullpen. If it wasn't for the 3-run home runs and seeing eye singles the Cowboys continue to give up, they'd be awesome! As it is, they sort of remind you of the Pedro Martinez-era Red Sox.
Our Broncos looked very, very good last week, FAR better than the multihued crowd looked. On the one hand, we had the folks who followed instructions and wore blue, in the spirit of making a "blue out" for the national television audience. On the other hand, we had the people who wore orange. The orange-clad group, sizable in numbers, consisted of three subsets of people: (1) Oregon State fans, which is okay; (2) Boise State fans who did not get the Wear Blue Memo, yet have more brain cells than the Bronco fans who show up wearing yellow; and (3) the budding insurgency of Bronco fans who are modern day Che Gueveras, griping about the blue out being nothing more than a capitalist plot to sell more shirts, shooting innocent people in the heads while they are hogtied and blindfolded, and engaging in a massive disinformation campaign aimed at fomenting division between pro-orange forces and pro-blue guerillas. Zagco hasn't seen anything like it since the time he was picking coffee beans in Guatemala. Zagco hopes for a world where Bronco fans can dress exactly alike, like twinners!
Anyhoo, Wyoming's defense appears stiffer than a sheepherder's upper lip on a cold, windy Wyoming night. In order to solve the riddle of winning in Wyoming, we will need to do three things: (1) avoid turnovers; (2) be able to throw the ball in the middle of the field; and (3) find the wide open secondary and tertiary (!) receivers. We have been much better this year with turnovers, but I still get the nagging feeling that we are fully capable of making games tougher by making mental mistakes and turning the ball over. You have gotta believe that Wyoming will try to force Z to beat them. I think Z is going to need to play a larger role passing the ball than he did last week. I also think Wyoming will scheme a defense that will result in wide open receivers, similar to what we saw with Oregon State. Z needs to anticipate this a bit more, because he could hit some awfully lonely targets out there.
Zagco wants to shout out the whole Bronco defense. The crazy, Troy Polamalu-like shucks and jives we are giving at the line are super cool, and they appear to be confusing our opponents. We have a vibrant, visual energy on defense. Our DBs are looking at the quarterback and the ball rather than the shrinking rear ends of the receivers. It's awesome. Great job guys! Keep it up.
Wyoming is tough, no doubt, but let's not forget that the same Virginia team that had so much trouble with them last week also could barely amass 200 yards against Pittsburgh the week before. Wyoming's first victim was Utah State. Wyoming plays a game similar to their coach's old Montana teams – spreading the wealth on offense. He'll have a bag of tricks too. We just need to play our game and withstand Wyoming's initial surge of energy. I think we'll be fine. Donkey State prevails!