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THURSDAY, SEPT. 9, 2010, 7:37 A.M.

WSU home opener not too far away


COUGARS • UPDATED: 3:30 P.M.

The hitting is done. The game plan is in. All that's left now for the Washington State Cougars is to fine-tune the mental aspect as they prepare for Saturday's home opener against Montana State. For more, read on.
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• Washington State: We made our Pac-10 picks yesterday, though I can't find them on-line. So I have put them on the bottom of this section, just so we get on the record. Don't want you to think I am hiding them or anything. ... The more I research Montana State, the more I wonder if WSU couldn't have picked a more compliant FCS school to play. The Bobcats have a senior-dominated offensive line, a lot of experience on defense and a quick, albeit young quarterback. Denarius McGhee, however, is a redshirt freshman who was good enough to beat out last year's starter, Oregon transfer Cody Kempt. Saturday's game probably won't be the walk over disgruntled Cougar fans are demanding. ... Now, on to the links. ... We had some practice notes last night and our primer on tackling in this morning's S-R. ... And folks, try as I might, that's all I could find today on the Cougars. ... UPDATE: Oops, missed this column from Bud Withers on the Times site. Sorry.

• Here are our Pac-10 picks ...

What a nice way to start the season. In fact, if I had restrained from picking teams from the state of Washington, it would have been a perfect weekend.

Darn those Huskies. And Cougars.

With conference play beginning this week and a bye, there are two less games to pick this week. Or two less games to miss, if you're a pessimist like me.

As always, the listed line is for your entertainment purposes only. All games Saturday unless listed otherwise.

The Citadel at Arizona (no line): This Arizona team is going to be better than people thought. The Wildcats storm The Citadel ... 42-14.

Northern Arizona at Arizona State (no line): Another chance for the Sun Devils to ease into the season. ASU, 35-17.

Colorado at California (Cal by 9): A future Pac-10 game, but now it's just another non-conference yawner. Cal, 24-14.

Oregon at Tennessee (Oregon by 12.5): Chip Kelly isn't all that excited about playing Neyland Stadium. One hundred thousand Vols fans will get him excited. Oregon, 42-24.

Stanford at UCLA (Stanford by 6): The Bruins have too many problems to hold off the Cardinal. And we will refrain from any luck puns. Stanford, 33-10.

Virginia at USC (USC by 20): The first home game of the Lane Kiffin era. It's going to start badly. Virginia, 24-21.

Syracuse at Washington (Washington by 13.5): This is not going to be close. The Huskies will rinse the bad taste of BYU from their mouths with some crushed orange drink. Washington, 35-7.

Montana State at Washington State (no line): This is as crucial a game as the Cougars will play all year. They need to win and they need to play well while doing it. They will. WSU, 38-10.

Last week: 9-1 overall, 5-2 vs. spread; Season: 9-1 overall, 5-2 vs. spread.

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• Around the Pac-10: ESPN.com's Ted Miller has his predictions. I notice we only disagree on the USC game, and, yes, I know, my pick would be a huge upset. But no guts, no glory. ... San Jose's Jon Wilner has his conference power ratings in which he somewhat includes Utah and Colorado. ... Washington: A bad day for the Huskies. Punter Will Mahan's knee injury is so severe, he is out for the season. ... A true freshman running back did all that was asked of him. Now more will be requested. ... Oregon State: Coaches are paranoid. Sometimes they have reason to be. ... A Beaver receives his star turn. ... Oregon: The Ducks' future schedule gives fans hope, according to Oregonian columnist John Canzano. ... But the basketball team is starting to lose hope center Michael Dunigan is coming back, though he won't tell coach Dana Altman his plans. ... Cal: One Colorado assistant coach wasn't able to recruit his son to Boulder. He's Bear defensive back Darian Hagan. ... Stanford: This will be the first big test for two-way starter Owen Marecic.... USC: The defense is expected to be better. It better be. ... UCLA: Quarterback Kevin Prince is expected to play Saturday. ... Arizona State: Sometimes not thinking is the best thing a player can do. ... Arizona: Middle linebacker Derek Earls: From small town to big contributor in the Wildcats' opening win.

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• That's all for this morning. Paul Wulff holds a short press conference this afternoon which we will summarize for you, then it's off to practice. Until then ...




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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