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Sports >  WSU football

The pick: Why Washington State will beat Northern Colorado

Junior defensive tackle Will Rodgers III wasn’t making any early predictions for the Washington State-Northern Colorado game when he sat behind a microphone after last Saturday’s 58-7 win over New Mexico State and guaranteed the Cougars would leave an opponent staring at a goose egg on the scoreboard at the end of four quarters this season.

Rodgers didn’t need to spew out “Northern” or “Colorado” for every reporter in the room to handicap the team’s next 11 opponents and quickly land on the Bears of the Big Sky as the foe WSU is most likely to shut out. It was just coincidence that Northern Colorado also happened to be the Cougars’ next opponent.

Here’s why it won’t happen: Despite their rotten luck in the win-loss column since joining the Big Sky, in which UNC still has yet to post a conference record better than .500, the Bears haven’t been shut out since 2012 and have played 75 times since.

They’ve been held to seven points on five occasions during that stretch, but not since a 41-0 loss to Utah in the 2012 opener have the Bears been blanked. Which leads into the counterargument …

Here’s why it absolutely will happen: UNC has only played three Pac-12 opponents, facing Colorado 12 times, Utah three times and Arizona State twice. The results of those 15 games aren’t completely surprising, but nonetheless fascinating:

UNC is 2-15 against the Pac-12, having been outscored 470-65 in those 17 contests. The Bears didn’t score in either ASU game and managed just six points in the three games against Utah. UNC has been blanked in 10 of the games against Pac-12 foes – or 58% of the time.

Another fun note from our excavation of UNC’s media guide: The Bears haven’t won against an active Pac-12 opponent in 85 years, not since their 13-7 triumph over Colorado, when they had home-field advantage. You’d have to go back another 16 years to find UNC’s last and only road win over the current Pac-12 (Nov. 16, 1918, at Colorado).

Even Cougar fans would have no choice to applaud the Bears for their second Pac-12 win in more than a century. But we’ll go with what the record books tell us – an easy win, and more than that, a WSU shutout.

The pick: Washington State 63, Northern Colorado 0.

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