How will wind, rain affect WSU-Stanford game?

THERE'S BEEN A whole lot written this week about most every aspect of the Seattle Game, which pits resurgent Washington State against a team, No. 5 Stanford, that some envision as a national title contender. But there's one area of the match up that hasn't been discussed all that much, one topic that might have a huge impact on the outcome.

The weather.

Seattle is going to be gray, rainy and windy throughout the day and evening.

So much so that WSU officials worried Friday that walk up sales, which usually number around 5,000 for Seattle games, might be way down. Bill Moos said he is expecting attendance to come in between 45,000 and 50,000.

Forecasters say the worst of the day's weather will arrive just around the time the Cougs and Card get underway at 7 p.m. at CenturyLink Field.

The prediction for the 7-to-11 p.m. window is for 56 degrees, heavy rain and sustained winds out of the south at about 20 mph, with gusts as high as 40.

Cougs vs Cardinal

The kickoff: 7 p.m., CenturyLink Field.


The line: Cardinal by 9 1/2

The series: Stanford leads 37-25-1

CF.C Ma Howard Memorial Tailgate: 3 p.m. to 6:30ish. North parking lot near line of porta pots. Look for CF.C banner. All welcome.

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Conventional wisdom would say that's bad news for the pass-happy Cougs and great news for run-first Stanford.

Bad weather usually favors a team that keeps it on the ground, and that's Stanford's bread and butter.

ON THE OTHER HAND, Washington State's Air Raid offense, while it certainly has a deep component, is predicated in large part on the short- and medium-range passes, which should be less affected by bad weather.

Las Vegas, known for examining every bit of minutiae in setting betting lines, doesn't seem to think the weather will be a big deal. WSU opened as 10-point underdog and most lines have dropped a little, with most placing Stanford as an 8.5 or 9.5 point favorite.

STILL, IF Marcus Mason, Teondray Caldwell and Jeremiah Laufasa were planning on having a breakout game on the ground, this would be a really great time to do it.

One piece of the Cougar puzzle that could be fraught with peril are the lob passes that Mike Leach has been wanting Connor Halliday to throw more, to allow his receivers time to run under them and use their athleticism to make plays over the covering defensive backs.

Those were a decidedly mixed bag against Idaho in Pullman last weekend. And trying to execute them in these conditions might increase the chances of a WSU turnover, something the Cougs have already been battling this season.

THE COUGAR RECEIVERS had trouble on a couple occasions over the past two weeks when the rain fell hard in practice. And Mike Leach wasn't pleased, calling it a lack of focus and assigning the pass-catchers some extra time working on looking the ball into their hands.

CougFans will be hoping there were lessons learned if the expected downpour takes place.

AS FOR THE DEFENSE, the conditions should benefit the Cougar stop corps, just as they should benefit Stanford's D.

But as long as Washington State wraps up as they have been, they could force a lot of punts -- and might have a greater opportunity for takeaways.

Let it rain?

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