Washington State Win Total Pick
After leading Washington State to a school record for wins in a season last fall, can Mike Leach get the Cougars to another strong performance in 2019?
Leach led Washington State to an 11-2 record in 2018, including a share of the Pac-12 North. He has coached the Cougars to four straight years of eight or more wins after three seasons with a losing record. According to oddsmakers, the Cornhuskers come into the 2019 season with an over/under of 8 wins. The over is listed at +105, while the under is at -125.
Not surprisingly, Washington State had one of the top offenses in the country last year. The Cougars were 15th in scoring (37.5 ppg) and 27th in total yards (452.5 ypg). They led the nation in passing with 373.8 yards per game through the air. Gardner Minshew had a great season under center, throwing for 4,779 yards and 38 touchdowns, but he is off to the NFL now. Leach will be deciding between Gage Gubrud, an Eastern Washington grad transfer, or Anthony Gordon, who had a solid spring. The good news for the new QB is that WSU has its three top receivers back from last year and all three were capable of big games. They combined for over 2,500 yards and 21 touchdowns. Not known for much of a running game, the Cougars may have to look at more from Max Borghi, who rushed for 5.1 yards per carry last season. He could be more of an asset this season as the new QB works into the system.
Defense wasn’t a big handicap for Washington State last year like it had been in the past. The Cougars gave up just 23.3 points and 358.9 yards per game last season. Washington State was great with pressure, racking up 88 tackles for loss and 38 sacks in 2018. While losing Logan Tago, who had 10.5 tackles for loss, and tackler leader Peyon Pelluer, the team still returns sack leader Dominic Silvels at linebacker and has a lot of experience and depth up front. Marcus Strong also returns in the secondary after leading the team with three interceptions.
Washington State starts easy with home games against New Mexico State and Northern Colorado before hosting a beatable Houston team. Pac-12 play gets started from there. The Cougars will host UCLA, Colorado, Stanford and Oregon State while making road trips to Utah, Arizona State, Oregon, Cal and Washington.
There should be a lot of optimism about Washington State and I am surprised to see the win total odds what they are. The Cougars bring a lot back from a very successful team. They need to replace the most important position, but Leach has proven he can turn almost anyone into a productive quarterback. If the Cougars continue to play defense like they did last season, they will once again be a national threat. I expect a 4-0 start to the year and see a lot of Pac-12 team struggling to outscore Washington State later in the year.
College Football Prediction: Washington State Over 8 Wins +105