The Early Glimpse: Cougs vs. Buffs

THE PAC-12 preseason poll is starting to look fairly accurate, at least in the North. Oregon, despite its laughable non-conference schedule, seems to be the real deal. Picked second, Stanford now looks like more than a handful. Oregon State and California have had a few moments so far.

Washington has looked awful against the best and great against the worst, so the jury is mostly out on them.

And Washington State, a non-descript 2-1 heading into its first Pac-12 game this weekend, has done nothing to suggest forecasters were wrong in slotting them for last in the North.

Be it offense, defense or special teams, have you seen anything during the first three games suggesting the Pac-12 scribes got it wrong?

Cougars vs. Buffaloes


The Kickoff: 1 p.m. Saturday in Martin Stadium. It's Homecoming Weekend

The Line: Cougars by 18.

TV Coverage: Live on FX.

The Records: Colorado 0-3, WSU 2-1.

The Series:: Colorado leads 4-3. The first meeting was 1981, when the Cougs won 14-10 in a come-from-behind nailbiter in Boulder. This is the first time Colorado will play in Pullman. The Buffs previously faced WSU in Seattle and Spokane.


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Now, preseason polls mean nothing and the games annually prove them wrong. For the Cougars, the games that matter start Saturday when Washington State kicks off the conference slate against Colorado. The Cougars should get this one, and big. But after that, something's got to change.

The games are going to get much tougher. Oregon in Seattle, then Oregon State in Corvallis. One of those has an offense that is hell on wheels, the other appears to have a decent defense. To date, the Cougars haven't shown much of either.

After a nine-month honeymoon following the Mike Leach hiring, the Cougar fan base is back to wondering and wanting. Wondering when the Air Raid offense will finally make WSU dangerous and entertaining. Wanting to know if this is going to be a different season, or another wait-til-next-year campaign.

That issue will not solve itself Saturday. Colorado is industrial-strength awful, the worst opponent the Cougars will face all season. Even if WSU mauls the Buffaloes, we're not going to know whether the Cougars are ready to step up and compete against the Oregons, Oregon States and Californias.

But at least a mauling would be an improvement over the past three weeks. It's time Washington State clearly separate itself from the weak on its schedule and show there's reason to be hopeful for the final two months of the season.

About Colorado: Most Pac-12 schools would think it's unacceptable to have anything less than a 3-0 record against a non-league schedule of Colorado State, Sacramento State and Fresno State. The Buffaloes clearly are not your ordinary Pac-12 team. Their 69-14 defeat at Fresno State on Saturday was as bad as any non-conference loss by a Pac-12 school in, well, maybe ever.

If you're a Colorado fan, this is one thing you should never hear coach Jon Embree say following a game against the WAC's Fresno State:

"We ran into a buzz saw," Embree said.

A check of the national statistics shows Colorado does almost nothing right. The Buffs rank No. 21 in net punting. Other than that, there's not a single category where CU rates among the country's top half in FBS. Its rushing and passing offense rate No. 104, and total offense is No. 113. The Buffaloes have the second worst pass defense, and rank No. 106 overall.

And Colorado hasn't even faced USC, Oregon, Stanford or the Air Raid.

Colorado's leading rusher is Christian Powell with 199 yards, though 147 came against Sacramento State. After the Fresno State meltdown, there's no telling who might play quarterback, but for the record, the Buffaloes' leading passer is Jordan Webb, who has completed 39 of 78 passes for 432 yards and four touchdowns.

Last year: In what likely was the highlight of WSU's 2011 season, the Cougars rallied during the final five minutes to beat Colorado 31-27 in Boulder. Washington State quarterback Marshall Lobbestael threw two touchdown passes during the final 2:35 to rally the Cougars from a 27-17 deficit. The game-winner was Lobbestael's 63-yard touchdown pass to Marquess Wilson with 1:10 remaining.

Familiar faces: None of the CU coaches have ties to Washington State, or players from the state of Washington.

Stat of the Week: For a guy who likes to hit, Travis Long's move from defensive end to BUCK has to be like getting a Christmas present every Saturday. He is on pace this regular season for 80 total tackles and 16 sacks. Last year, as a second-team All-Pac-12 selection at DE, he posted 51 total tackles and 5 sacks.

With 20 total stops this season, Long is two short of the team lead, held by reigning Cougar tackling champion Deone Bucannon. Linebacker Darryl Monroe sits between the two with 21 stops.

Read Nick Daschel's occasional Pac-12 ramblings at twitter.com/nickdaschel

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