Washington State Cougars
Head Coach: Mike Leach
2013-14 Record: 6-7, 4-5 Pac-12 Conference
2013-14 Bowl Result: 48-45 loss to Colorado State in New Mexico Bowl
Odds to Win National Championship: Field +2142
Offense: 8, Defense: 6
The Cougars return eight starters from last season led by redshirt-senior quarterback Connor Halliday, who set single-season school records for completions, attempts, passing yards and tied the mark with 34 touchdown passes.
Washington State will also welcome back its top eight receivers, including All-Pac-12 honorable mention River Cracraft and returners Gabe Marks, Dom Williams and Vince Mayle.
It’s also important to point out that senior running back Marcus Mason also returns after pacing the team in rushing and finishing second on the team in receptoins.
Leach’s last three teams at Texas Tech averaged 423 passing yards per game, which signals a potential improvement on last year’s numbers.
The return of seven starters from a defense that forced 30 turnovers last season has the fan base enthused in Pullman, especially since it was the most the school has posted since 2006.
Redshirt-junior defensive lineman Xavier Cooper is the main player to consider when making your college football picks this year, as he tallied a team-high 13.5 tackles-for-loss a year ago.
Two-year starting Mike linebacker Darryl Monroe will be the leader on the field after making 94 stops in 2013.
Taking on Rutgers in the opener is certainly a challenge, but I anticipate Washington State entering Eugene to take on the Oregon Ducks with a perfect 3-0 record on Sept. 20, as it looks to improve upon its 3-13 record in that series since 1998.
The Cougars do face some major obstacles thereafter, especially with games on the road against the Utah Utes, Stanford Cardinal, Oregon State Beavers and Arizona State Sun Devils.
A timely bye week allows the team to take a breather from Oct. 11-24, but it’s definitely going to be tough sledding to earn a second consecutive bowl appearance with this schedule.
Leach certainly has the program on the right track and really needs to take advantage of Halliday and his talented receivers—something that he was able to do during his time in Lubbock in the Big 12 Conference.
Washington State’s offensive line now measures 305 pounds on average, which is a major improvement from its 285-pound total of a season ago.
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