Washington State Cougars Odds to win the College Football National Championship with Expert Betting Predictions
I am both fascinated and annoyed by how Mike Leach is covered in the mainstream media. His teams and how they are playing almost never get any attention. It's because reporters are too busy fawning over his pirate obsession and the other quirks that hide the fact that he refuses to coach defense. Today I read on not one but two different outlets that he isn't a particular fan of hot dogs. That's the kind of info that leads to winning bets. Bizarre. Leach is fascinating to reporters. He's also frustrating to bettors. He's very good at making the most of an offense, but he sees little value in things like improving, evolving, or instilling consistency. He is what he is, and he likes it - because he's in a place that is happy to have him and lets him do it. I'd have loved to have seen Leach is his prime as an offensive coordinator for a coach who actually cares. That could have been fun. To be clear, I think Leach cares about some things - but more about being able to live his own life without being bothered than about running the best program possible.
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2016 in a Nutshell
It was a typically weird year for a Mike Leach team. They lost to Eastern Washington in their opener and then lost against at Boise State. Just as it seemed like we could write them off, they won eight straight, capped by a dominating win at Stanford. They made the Top 20 in the rankings and then celebrated by losing out - at Colorado, against Washington, and to Minnesota in their bowl game. Consistently inconsistent - that's what the jerseys should say. They should say it in Latin, though - it sounds more impressive. And as is typical, they had an offense comfortably in the Top 20 nationally by most measures and a defense just barely in the top 60 in its' strongest categories.
Key Additions and Departures
The offense has what it needs most - QB Luke Falk is back for another year. He will have two new offensive linemen in front of him, but there are decent options. Some changes have occurred at receiver, but nothing to get too stressed about - Leach knows how heavily he relies on receivers, so he always has plenty around him. The running game is obviously secondary here, but three key running backs return, so they'll be fine.
On defense they return all four top linebackers and five of the six top linemen. The secondary is where the concerns are, though - only four of the nine most used players last year are back, and they will be relying on youngsters more than is ideal. I would worry about this more, though, if defense was a primary concern for this team. They don't much care about defense, so it seems unnecessary for me to.
This team does not recruit particularly well, and if you have ever been to Pullman the reason why is no mystery to you. Their class ranked barely within the Top 50 this year and featured just one four-star recruit among the 27 signees - receiver Jamire Calvin, who could see some playing time this year along with JUCO transfer Easop Winston, who Leach has spoken highly of.
Washington State Cougars Schedule Analysis
Here's what is amazing about this schedule - at Utah, At Cal, home to Boise State, Oregon State, Colorado, and arguably even at Arizona and maybe at Oregon depending upon how they look - all coin-flip games. When half your season could go either way without causing an ounce of surprise then it's tough to get a sense of how things are going to turn out. They'll probably lose to USC and Washington and are in tough against Stanford, too, in all likelihood. They'll definitely beat Montana State (I say definitely, but anything can happen for this team in the first game of the season), and Nevada. So, where does that leave us? Somewhere between two and nine or 10 wins. In other words, Mike Leach is still in charge in Pullman.
2017-18 Washington State Cougars Betting Odds and Trends
The Cougars are at +10000 at BetOnline to win the national title. That makes them one of the longer shots on the board, but they should just be flattered that they aren't one of the 90 or so teams nationally that aren't listed yet - in pre-Leach eras they would have been. At +1200 they are tied with Oregon as the fifth choice to win the Pac-12. Being tied with Oregon given where they are at right now is not flattering. Luke Falk is listed as a long shot to win the Heisman at +3300. His team would need to be at the top end of possible projections for him to have any chance at all, and even then the West Coast bias and the lack of exposure that comes with it will really work against him.
The team was an underwhelming 6-7 ATS last season, and a particularly ugly 2-6 ATS in their last eight games. The "over" was profitable when it came to the total at 7-5-1, but that's not enough to get too excited about.
2017-18 Washington State Cougars Predictions and College Football Picks
Eight. That seems like about the right now of wins. Maybe one more or less. They will lose one they shouldn't, and win one they shouldn't, too. It will be fun to watch at times, but ultimately won't amount to much.
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