Junt’s Hunch: WSU football 2022 season preview

Web: What September could be for Cougar football Print: Game-by-game predictions for WSU football’s 2022 season



WSU quarterback Cameron Ward warms up during practice, Aug. 17, in Martin Stadium.

TREVOR JUNT, Evergreen deputy sports editor

WSU football is on the up and up.

The team is looking more solid than it has since the best days of former head coach Mike Leach. Expect a WSU football team that can perform well against some of the conference’s best teams and can blow out low-level opponents.

This is head coach Jake Dickert’s first full year as head coach for the WSU football program after gaining the interim job midseason, he went 3-2 to close out the regular season and won the Cougs’ first Apple Cup since 2012.

The dynamic duo of transfer quarterback Cam Ward and offensive coordinator Eric Morris come to WSU from remarkable success at Incarnate Word where Morris was Ward’s head coach.

Under the leadership of Ward and Morris, WSU will roll out the “Coug Raid” system, hoping to bring success to this offense. Their offense will feature elements of the Air Raid with a focused passing attack and the use of the Tight End position for the first time in about a decade.

The defense will just have to hold their ground and with veteran defensive linemen, RJ Stone and Brennan Jackson should be able to pressure the quarterback and continue to disrupt offenses.

Below are my predictions for each of WSU football’s September games. 

Sept. 3 vs. Idaho: The Battle of the Palouse. This is an incredible way for the Cougs to begin their season. This should be an easy win for WSU. Unlike the opener vs. Utah State last season, where they lost 26-23, WSU has over a 95% chance to win this game, according to ESPN, This will be Cam Ward’s career opener with WSU and fans can expect him to pick apart the Idaho defense. The Cougs will win this game easily. Cougs win with a 51-17 final score.

Sept. 10 at Wisconsin: Wisconsin is ranked 18th in the NCAA by the Associated Press. Yes, this is an improved WSU team both talent-wise and coaching-wise, but beating Wisconsin would be an incredible upset by WSU. It is sort of a homecoming for Dickert who grew up in Wisconsin. The Badgers have a rabid fan base who will pack the stadium making it difficult for the Cougs. ESPN does not give WSU much of a shot, giving Wisconsin almost an 89% chance to win. Expect a loss to Wisconsin even though the Cougs will put up a fight and keep it relatively close. Wisconsin will win 34-27.

Sept. 17 vs. Colorado State: Colorado State is one of the worst teams in the Mountain West Conference, which is not historically great in football. Last season, they finished 3-9 and lost their last five games. This should not be tough competition for WSU, to keep things short, they should blow them out. If there is any doubt in this game, there should be massive doubt for the season. ESPN gives WSU around an 80% chance to win this game. I view it as much more of a chance. The Cougs should win 45-14.

Sept. 24 vs. Oregon: Oregon is ranked 11th in the nation by the AP. This is tough conference competition. Oregon recently acquired Dan Lanning as head coach who was the defensive coordinator for the best defense in the NCAA: the 2022 National Champion Georgia. I do not know if there will be many blowouts for a competitive WSU team, but this may stand out. ESPN gives Oregon almost a 77% chance to win. Oregon will take it, 31-17.

Oct. 1 vs. California: Cal is an afterthought. They finished 5-7 last season and did not do much to improve their team. I do not see anything surprising happening during this game, especially because the Cougs are at home. ESPN gives the Cougs just over a 55% chance to win. Expect the Cougs to win, 37-27.

Oct. 8 at USC: The Trojans have changed the most out of any Pac-12 team with the addition of former head coach Lincoln Riley and QB Caleb Williams, both from University of Oklahoma. Riley and USC have attracted a slew of transfers to transform them into a contender.

Riley will lead USC to a record and future they have not seen since perhaps the days of Pete Carroll. ESPN gives USC around an 83% chance to win. USC is the most terrifying team in the Pac-12. If WSU is able to “fight on”, Glenn Johnson, mayor and voice of the Cougs should throw a parade in downtown Pullman. That said, USC should take care of WSU pretty easily, 38-24.

Oct. 15 at Oregon State: The Beavs went 7-6 last season, which is the same as WSU. OSU has a very deep running back room and that is their main attack. Last season, they had two 100+ yard rushers against WSU, but they were not able to beat them then and should not be able to beat them now. Although ESPN gives OSU a 69% chance to win, WSU should be able to take care of the division rival. In another close matchup, WSU will win 34-31.

Oct. 27 vs. Utah: Utah is ranked 7th in the NCAA by the AP. They have veteran QB Cameron Rising and an absolutely stacked defense. They should compete with USC and Oregon to be at the top of the Pac-12. The defense is terrifying but the offense does not put fear into opponents’ hearts like a top team would. ESPN does not see WSU competing, giving Utah an 81% chance to win.  Look for WSU to stay competitive with this team, I do not see the Utes staying at the top for long. However, Utah will take the game, 28-24.

Nov. 5 at Stanford: Stanford ranked worst in the Pac-12 North last year. They ended with a 3-9 record and have lost seven straight games. I do not expect much worry for the Cougs coming from Stanford. Stanford does not have much to fear other than being hopeful in their QB Tanner McKee. ESPN gives Stanford the edge in this matchup, a 67% chance to win this game. I do not see this happening; in fact, I think the Cougs take this easily. WSU will win 33-14.

Nov. 12 vs. Arizona State: ASU’s head coach Herm Edwards is likely on the hot seat. He will need to have a good season to keep his job. Last year, WSU went into ASU’s house and beat them, do not expect ASU to return the favor this year. It is going to be cold in Pullman, especially in November, never expect an Arizona school to be good in the cold. ESPN gives WSU a 57% chance to win this game. WSU should win this game convincingly, and Dickert will show why he deserved this coaching job. WSU will win 41-24.

Nov. 19 at Arizona: Arizona was awful last year, finishing 1-11. But with a few new transfers including former WSU QB Jayden de Laura, they are much improved. Do not expect them to put up a good fight against a now-rolling Coug team, however. It’s not personal, it’s just business. ESPN has this game as a toss up giving Arizona the slight edge at about 51% chance to win this game. Expect Ward to want to show up against former Coug de Laura and win. WSU will win 45-21.

Nov. 26 vs. Washington: The coveted Apple Cup. UW is not a good team, they just named Indiana transfer Michael Penix Jr. as their starting quarterback. Do not look for them to improve much from their last season at 4-8. ESPN gives UW around a 62% chance to win the Apple Cup. Perhaps from just recent history? The Cougs will take the Apple Cup and WSU fans will have the joy of rushing the field again. The Cougs will win again, not quite 40-13 like last year. WSU will win 34-20.

This will be a great launch to a career for Dickert as WSU’s head coach if they finish with this record of 8-4. They will be bowl eligible and could begin the start of a great run as an organization.