Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 10:30 AM EST.
6:00 PM EST. Situationally, the Cougars are set-up perfectly to be a fade candidate here. For those that tuned in to the Cougars’ clash with visiting Boise State on a nightcap of gridiron on September 9th, commentators highlighted that September 29th was a date circled, highlighted, and boxed on the calendars of all Washington State fans, coaches, alumni, and players. September 29th is the day that USC is scheduled to come to Pullman and Washington State has been patiently waiting. The prospect of an undefeated Trojans coming to town against an expected-to-be undefeated Cougars team sets up the possibility of a primetime collision aired for national audiences. The sheer thought of such a spectacle has fired up a fan base that has endured some bumpy years until the Cougars’ recent re-emergence from the doldrums.
There is little dispute that the Cougars have made leaps in the past few seasons. Washington State has won at least eight games in each season dating back to 2015 and they were in contention for a possible Pac 12 Championship Game appearance in 2016 until their arch rival Washington took them down in the annual Apple Cup. The Cougars also feature arguably the best quarterback in America in Luke Falk who has been an effective and efficient weapon that nurtured the Wazzu renaissance. While there is heightened enthusiasm and a lot of excitement surrounding the Cougars program and its ceiling as a whole, it was clear that Washington State was guilty of looking ahead when they hosted the Broncos. The Cougars trailed by as much as 21 points against Boise State and were forced to cultivate a huge rally to force overtime. Washington State would escape with a win but exposed some chinks in their armor in the process. While the Cougars boast the sixth-best passing attack in America (408.3 yards per game) and an incredulous 43.3 points per game, Wazzu gave their foes a glimpse of their weaknesses. Their offense is built to score frequently and rapidly. Such air raid strategies are virtually unstoppable when deployed appropriately. However, this approach to the game can also result in large leads evaporating if mistakes are made or if the operations stall. Thus, a team like the Cougars are almost always a risk when spotting this kind of lumber to any team, including one as lowly as 0-3 Nevada. Failing to cover a 41-point line against a one-dimensional FCS cupcake in Montana State when the Cougars opened their season exemplifies that too.
Furthermore, if Washington State was guilty of potentially looking ahead when welcoming a team as good as Boise State to Martin Stadium three weeks out from USC, what could be said when the quality of competition is a step down with just a week to go until the big showdown? With the Cougars on a collision course with the Men of Troy in what could be a landmark game for Washington State, there is a strong possibility that Mike Leach calls off the dogs once this contest is well in hand. For Wazoo, its fans and media in that region, this game is merely a glorified practice and that gives the Wolf Pack a big chance to come in through the back door if it is required.
Nevada is still looking for its first win this season and they are also looking to salvage some semblance of pride after being upset at home last weekend as a 32½-point choice against a FCS opponent in Idaho State. Going from a 32½-point choice to a 28-point dog in the span of one week is a 60-point swing and we’re not sure we’ve ever seen that before at this level. It’s the prudent choice.
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#405 Nevada +28½ -106 (Risking 2.12 units - To Win: 2.00)