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WSU vs. Cal: No margin for error for Cougars bowl hopes

Going Bowling?

As Washington St. sits at 3-5 with four games remaining left on the schedule, Head Coach Paul Wulff remains optimistic in regards of reaching their  pre-season goal of being a bowl team.

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If the Cougars are up to that task, they must finish out the season strong.

It will not be an easy task.  Not because of the opposition that sits in the way, (Cal, Arizona State, Utah, and Washington) but because of a lack of execution and focus Washington State has put on display for most of the season.

It’s because of these mistakes the Cougars now face an almost improbable situation to reach a bowl game.

It’s laughable because Washington State had the easiest road to a bowl birth then any other team in the conference. It didn’t need to be this tough.

The Cougars 2011 schedule ranked 105th in the nation in terms of strength of schedule.

Their soft schedule was designed in part to allow for flexibility in case of injuries, or inconsistent play (both happened), but mainly this schedule was designed to give Washington St. an easy shot at winning 6 games and  grabbing one of the Pac-12′s 6 bowl spots.

Paul Wulff got exactly the match any coach in his position only dreams about.  Idaho State, UNLV, San Diego St., UCLA, and Oregon State were the five wins leaving Colorado, Cal, and Utah as three remaining schools needed to pull out that 6th victory.

It was set up to make Stanford, Oregon, Arizona State, and Washington non-factors in determining a Cougar bowl birth.

The schedule gave WSU a more then possible chance to grab a bowl birth without relying on pulling off an upset to make it happen.

WSU Cougars

No margin for error for Cougars bowl hopes

As we know the Cougars didn’t take advantage of what the schedule had to offer in the way of wins. San Diego St, UCLA, and Oregon St are all in loss column, and now Paul Wulff must find a way to get two wins from Cal, Arizona St, and Utah before playing Washington in the Apple Cup on Nov 26th.

Obviously Wulff would like to take all three of these games, but the way the Cougars have been playing this season, it’s unrealistic to think they are capable of winning three in a row let alone winning any of them.

If the Cougs can win at Cal this week and at home against Utah in three weeks that would put the Cougs at 5-6 heading into the Apple Cup.  For a team that has struggled at times this season, it would be a fitting scenario for the Cougars to be in.

Having the Huskies as the last team standing in the way of their bowl birth.

It’s starts this Saturday in San Fransisco against Cal.

The Cougars must play every game from here on out like it is their last.

Paul Wulff must be open to the idea of allowing Marshall Lobbestael the freedom to be a QB with an open playbook.

He has earned the right to be allowed to play without restriction. In  6 starts this season Lobbestael’s average game is 24/38, 317 yards, 3 TD’s and 1 interception.

He has eclipsed the 300 yard mark in four of his 6 starts and has 16 touchdowns to 6 interceptions.

Lobbestael has a homerun threat in Marquess Wilson (7 rec, 127 yards, 1 TD), and two pretty good possession receivers  in Isaiah Barton (5 rec 55 yards), and Jared Karstetter (5 rec, 61 yards) to throw to on any given down.

Add in a very good pass catching TE in Andre Lintz, and scat backs Rickey Galvin and Carl Winston, and you all of a sudden see Paul Wulff has the kind of  offense that is capable of putting up big points and huge numbers if he chooses to spread out defenses with it.

The sense of urgency is now for the Washington State Cougars.

Obviously the Cougars played below their level of talent for the better part of the season. Whatever the excuses were, they are no longer relevant. Two more losses and this season is over.

Paul Wulff must recognize that his season and his WSU coaching tenure could go up in flames if the Cougs do not act accordingly.

We all know the Cougars have talent, it’s just a matter of letting them play the game the way they are capable of playing it.

No more excuses, just go out and handle you business. I’m more then certain the results Cougs Nation are  looking for will be there in the end.    

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