2018 Washington State Cougars Season Win Total Picks and Predictions for NCAA Football
2017 Record: 9-4
2018 Las Vegas Season Win Total: 6.0
2018 Season Win Total Picks NCAA Football: 'Under'
In the eight seasons between 2007 and 2014, Washington State won a combined 26 games, an average of slightly more than three per year. Mike Leach has matched that total over the last three seasons, winning 26 games and averaging nearly nine per year.
Leach may be a weirdo. But he is also a proven winner. And his high-octane, pass-happy attack is guaranteed to keep the Cougars competitive through another Pac-12 season.
However, you don't just replace a guy like Luke Falk. Falk left Pullman as the Pac-12's career leader in passing yards and touchdowns. He was a four-year starter and left with the most wins for a quarterback in school history.
Leach has always been plug-and-play with his quarterbacks, dating back to his time at Texas Tech. But he isn't drawing the same level of quarterback recruit here as he was in Lubbock. And now he will look to replace Falk with either East Carolina retread Gardner Minshew or highly-regarded freshman Connor Neville. And whoever he goes with there will offer a drop-off in production from Falk.
Wazzou also lost its leading rusher, its two best receivers, and three starting offensive linemen. So the pliability of Leach's system will be put to the test.
Lost in the cloud of the Cougars' offensive success is the fact that they've put three solid, competitive defenses on the field over the last three seasons. In fact, the defense outperformed the offense last season; the offense was No. 33 in total yards, while the defense was No. 18 in yards allowed.
The defense has four of five starters back from the nation's No. 9 pass defense. But they have to rebuild the front seven. And they will do so by plugging in a bunch of seniors that have been in the program for years.
Washington State has a really key game to open the season, going on the road to play Wyoming. The Cougars are the better team from the better conference. But the Cowboys have a nice home-field advantage and will be sky high for that one.
If Wazzou doesn't win that game then they are going to have a really hard time getting back to a bowl. They have to face USC and Stanford on the road, while drawing Oregon, Arizona and Washington at home.
This team isn't nearly as good as last year's. And any slip-ups will keep them from a fourth straight bowl game. This is the youngest team in the league, and I will be surprised if Leach can get them above .500. But then again, he's been overachieving his entire career. Still, take the 'under'.
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