It’s high time WSU brings the fire back home

MIKE LEACH HAS shown a remarkable ability at Washington State to make the hard things look easy and the easy things look hard. Just one week after the most unexpected loss in WSU history, Leach rallied the troops to notch one of the more impressive nonconference wins in recent crimson memory. Now it's time to bring some of that fire back home.

The Cougs have won six of their last 10 road games against Power 5 opponents, including four against teams with winning records. Last year's road losses at Stanford and ASU were in doubt until late: the Cougars entered the fourth quarter of both contests trailing by only a touchdown.

At home, however, it’s been an entirely different script. WSU has lost nine of its last 10 home games to Power 5 teams, the last three by 21 points or more. After the Portland State calamity, Leach's home record at Wazzu (6-14) is glaringly comparable to Paul Wulff’s (7-18).

CRIMSON COMMENTARY

Cougar fans have been patient, it’s now more than fair to ask why Leach's Cougars have played so much better on the road than at home, where Bill Moos makes a weekly appeal to fans to spend their money, and time, in Pullman on game days.

A growing segment of Cougar fans have become disenchanted, with the loss in the opener opening wide that particular flood gate. While the win over Rutgers most assuredly buoyed spirits, the simple fact that most of the Cougar heroics can only be seen on ESPN while WSU’s season ticket holders continue to receive high-definition horror stories. Indeed, the Cougs have been outscored 45-0 in the first quarter of their last three conference home games.

Maybe the Cougs just need that extra hostility on the road to channel their energy, or maybe the posh new facilities in Pullman are making the players too comfortable. I’m just speculating here but whatever it is, it needs to change fast.

Martin Stadium has become a hostile environment, but for all the wrong reasons. Not enough Cougar fans are showing up and those that do feel they’ve earned the right to see better football. And the Cougars have proven they can deliver it, but heretofore only at someone else’s venue. The majority of WSU's most winnable games come at home this year. WSU is favored by 24 points over Wyoming and will likely be favored over Oregon State and Colorado. ASU and Stanford were highly mortal in last year’s tilts. Winning three or four of these ’15 games in my mind isn't just possible, it's essential.

Cougar fans in Martin need to fall in love with their team again. A victory on Saturday would be a nice start. After all, Cougar Nation hasn’t been able to witness a victory celebration out on the Palouse in more than a year.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Leach can, however, add a Big Ten team to his impressive list of WSU road wins. Over the last two seasons-plus, Leach has beaten Rutgers, USC, Arizona, Utah, Cal and Oregon State on the road; and nearly taken down Auburn and ASU as well.

  • Before the win at Rutgers, WSU had not beaten a Power 5 nonconference team in nine years.


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