The long torture of summer sports is almost over, but we still have a little ways to go. To get things ready, I went over every single game on the Pac-12 schedule in 2016 and predicted records for each team.
I'm going to countdown how I think the teams ultimately stack up in the final regular season standings with snapshots of each team.
#12 was Oregon State
#11 was Colorado
#10 was Cal
#9 was Arizona
#8 was Utah
#7 was Arizona State
#6 is...Washington State
Prediction: 8-4 (6-3) fourth in North
Bowl: Las Vegas Bowl vs. San Diego State
Wins: Eastern Washington, Idaho, Oregon, at Arizona State, at Oregon State, Arizona, Cal, at Colorado
Losses: at Boise State, at Stanford, UCLA, Washington
The Cougars shocked everyone last season when they bounced back from an opening loss to FCS Portland State and went on to win nine games. The Cougars have a very similar team to the one which won nine games in 2015, but they won’t be able to sneak up anyone this year.
I think the Cougars end up also putting together a very similar season to 2015 in 2016, but this one won’t come as a surprise to anybody.
Non-Conference: Playing at Boise State isn’t as scary as it used to be, but it is still asking a lot to win there. I think the Cougars have a great chance to get it done, but I still put my money on the Broncos. The Cougars should have no problem winning their other two non-conference games (Eastern Washington & Idaho).
In-Conference: The Cougars open with challenges, playing Stanford, Oregon and UCLA in the opening weeks and I think they can only pull out one of those. I will go with going against an Oregon team they play really well in recent years. The schedule opens up after that and I see the Cougars running the table until the Apple Cup. I really want to pick the Cougars to win the Apple Cup, but the Huskies match up very well against them and have dominated the series in recent years.
How Will This Feel In December?
That Apple Cup loss will really sting, but a second-straight nine-win season for the Cougars under Mike Leach would be a huge statement. The Cougars haven’t had that kind of consistent success for nearly 15 years and rarely in their overall history, so the fans and program should cherish it and have serious confidence in Leach. Winning on that level with consistency is not easy in Pullman. They should also be happy about a very fun bowl trip to Las Vegas to take on a very good San Diego State team.