2016 Conference Preview: Pac-12

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DARK HORSE

WSU logo

When you bring up the topic of some of the longest suffering college football programs, Washington State is bound to come up. Prior to last season, ‘Wazoo’ went 11 straight years without a winning season, including a horrendous 5-32 stretch from 2008-10. That all changed in 2015 when the Cougars won nine games and more importantly competed with some of the better teams in the Pac-12.

Head coach Mike Leach is one of the more interesting coaches in the nation. Whether it’s his affinity to pirates or his ingenious air raid offense that churns out yardage at will, Leach has Wazoo on the rise.

The Cougars return 16 starters including junior Luke Falk, who threw for over 4,500 yards and 38 touchdowns as a sophomore last season. While those numbers are impressive, what was even better was his 69.4 completion percentage. Although there are injuries concerns as Falk was knocked out of 3 games in 2015. The offense took a considerable dip under back-up Peyton Bender.

WSU also returns its top 3 backs from a season ago which should help keep Falk from having to drop back 50 times a game. The trio was led by redshirt junior Gerad Wicks who ran for 610 yards while averaging 5.7 yards per carry in 2015.

The Cougars signature moment came in Eugene, Oregon where Falk led Washington State to a 35-28 2OT win over Oregon, snapping an 8-game losing streak to the Ducks. Falk threw for 505 yards and 5 touchdowns in the victory.

With an offense that puts up video game numbers and an ever improving defense, perhaps Washington State can get back to Pasadena for the first since 2003.