The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

An optimist’s guide to home Cougar football

Cougars can show the world what they’re missing in 2023
The WSU football team runs onto the field before the Apple Cup, Nov. 26.

This Saturday is a special day in Pullman as Cougar Football returns.

It is the first chance for Coug fans to have their voices heard on the national stage post-Pac-12 implosion. And more importantly, the first chance to root for the 2023 Cougar football team and introduce new Cougs to the radiant community and culture that is WSU.

“The impact that our fans make, I can’t speak enough about the energy they create,” football head coach Jake Dickert said in his Monday press conference.

Football is back and every school that took home a week one dub has got to be feeling great about themselves, including your Washington State Cougars.

Yes, there are things to fix. Ball security from our starting quarterback, a run game in need of a jolt and the endurance and will to finish the game strong after Colorado State returned a kickoff for a touchdown and scored several times late.

But the Cougs also scored 50 points. Kept the Rams quiet for nine straight drives after their opening field goal and snagged three turnovers, including an electric pick-six from sophomore safety Jaden Hicks.

Cam Ward threw for 451 yards and ran for 40 more after a debut season in which he ran just 58 yards.

A large contingent of Cougs showed up to Fort Collins for the first game of the season. Can Wazzu keep the energy up? Here is what could happen if they do from an optimistic point of view.

Wisconsin, 4:30 p.m. Sept. 9

A 26-point win that was truly much larger of a victory was exactly what the Cougs needed heading into their home opener with No. 19 Wisconsin, Saturday. In a rematch of the Cougars’ terrific 17-14 top 25 win against the Badgers last season in Camp Randall, Wisconsin. Dickert will welcome his home state’s most storied college football program to his house on the Palouse.

Wisconsin has a new head coach and a revamped offensive attack. 

The defense was key to Cougar victory last year and it will need to be so again for the Cougs to come out on top.

That said, with a near-sell-out crowd expected, Pullman’s “last big football game” should be a grand time for all.

With a primetime audience on ABC, Cougs win: 27-24

Northern Colorado, 2 p.m. Sept. 16

Over 100 Cougar Marching Band alumni will join an already 200+ person band to celebrate 100 years of WSU bands. There is one more reason to find your way back home against what could be described as an underwhelming opponent in the Big Sky Conference’s Northern Colorado.

That said, we would do well to respect every opponent but fear none., so hopefully the Cougs do exactly that. If they lose this one, we don’t even deserve to be in the Mountain West Conference, so of course I’m calling a Cougar victory here.

Cougars win versus Northern Colorado 51-13

Oregon State Sept. 23

This enduring regional rivalry takes on new meaning this year as “The 2-Pac Bowl.” WSU and OSU stand alone as the only two Pac-12 schools without a conference plan beyond this year with each of the other 10 schools jumping ship to the Big Ten, Big 12 and ACC.

It is time to manifest Pullman as the home for ESPN College Gameday Sept. 23 for the “2-Pac Bowl”. A lot needs to happen for this to happen, namely, the Cougs and Beavs need to be undefeated or lose a close, dramatic game to their toughest out-of-conference opponent. 

The world is against OSU and Wazzu, so let’s go Cougs!

Wazzu wins versus Oregon State 20-17

Arizona Oct. 14

Homecoming will see a certain someone come back home in Arizona QB Jayden de Laura. De Laura is an unsavory figure for his messy exit from WSU. He lost any and all goodwill he gained through his Apple Cup win by transferring to Arizona where “it’s personal” is the team’s motto. The allegations of sexual assault from high school leave some questioning if he should still be on a college football team.

Forget de Laura, this game is about true Cougs finding their way back home for an incredible game.

Wazzu wins 31-17 and de Laura throws his 30th career Cougar touchdown to Jaden Hicks via an interception

Stanford Nov. 4

California is on the Pacific coast, not the Atlantic. You’d think a school full of geniuses would recognize that fact, but alas the Cougs will have the chance to face the Atlantic Coast Conference-bound Stanford Cardinal for what could be the last time in a while. This Stanford team is better than last year, but the Cougs can’t let up.

Wazzu wins 35-20

Colorado 7:30 p.m. Friday Nov. 17

Coach Prime [insert hand shake emoji] Pullman. 

Pro Football Hall of Famer and Colorado’s first-year head coach Deion Sanders has already put the nation on notice with his 80+ transfers and opened the season by outsourcing the reigning National Championship runner-up TCU, 45-42 in Texas.

To complement this phenomenon, TCU lost its AP Top 25 ranking and Colorado jettisoned to No. 22 in the nation.

Colorado has two Heisman Trophy candidates, Deion’s son, Shedeur Sanders and wide receiver/cornerback Travis Hunter. It remains to be seen how Colorado will collide with USC, Oregon, Utah, Oregon State or other Pac-12 schools, but the Cougs will be plenty familiar with Colorado by the final home game of the season.

A lot of eyes will be on Pullman Nov. 17, and it will be up to Wazzu to send out the seniors right with a dub under the Friday Night Lights.

Wazzu wins 38-35.

On the road, the Cougs will challenge tough teams like UCLA, Oregon and of course Washington, but if the Cougs can defend their home field in the last year of the Pac-12, they can beat anybody.

Will Wazzu beat everybody? Of course not, but also why not? The rest of your life is so full of realism and disappointment, why not root your heart out and believe in the Cougs? Because, it’s not the wins that matter as much as the quality time spent cheering or cussing out your Cougs in the bright sunshine of September or near sub-zero temperatures in November.

But if the Cougs win, you’ll have 15,000 more people in the stands with you to keep you company.

So be in Martin Stadium as often as you can, don’t leave at halftime because leaving at halftime is so lame and as always…

Go Cougs!

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About the Contributors
SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports co-editor
Sam is a senior multimedia journalism major from Lacey, Washington and the sports editor for spring 2024. He was the sports editor for the 2022-23 school year and managing editor for the summer and fall 2023. He plays the trumpet in the Cougar Marching Band, loves sports and has worked at the Evergreen since fall 2021.
HAILEE SPEIR, Evergreen photo editor
Hailee Speir is a photographer for the Daily Evergreen. Hailee is a junior English education major from Spokane, Washington. Hailee started working for the Evergreen in fall 2021 as a photographer.