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2022 football preview: Game-by-game predictions for the Washington State Cougars

Washington State’s nonconference football slate features two favorable matchups against lower-level opponents and one major test on the road against a notable Power Five foe. The Cougars open Pac-12 play with a grueling month-long stretch, during which they will face four of the conference’s best projected teams – including defending champion Utah. WSU’s schedule for November is much less daunting. The Cougars close their season with four very winnable games, all against opponents they beat in 2021.

Sept. 3 vs. Idaho

After a five-year hiatus, the Battle of the Palouse is back. The border neighbors are both led by first-year coaches in Dickert and Jason Eck, who were coworkers at a couple of past coaching stops. That adds intrigue to a farmland feud that has been largely uninteresting over the past two decades – the Cougs have outscored the Vandals 396-99 over nine straight wins. WSU will be a heavy favorite over Idaho, which dropped back down to the Football Championship Subdivision in 2018. WSU, 45-10.

Sept. 10 at Wisconsin

Dickert returns to his home state for one of WSU’s most anticipated nonconference games in some time. The Badgers eventually wear WSU out with their powerful running game, combined with a tenacious defensive front and a booming home-field advantage of more than 80,000 fans. Wisconsin, 30-24.

Sept. 17 vs. Colorado State

WSU gets back on track against a Mountain West Conference bottomfeeder and cruises to a well-rounded victory. WSU, 37-13.

Sept. 24 vs. Oregon

The Cougs go toe-to-toe with a ranked Ducks team before a rowdy crowd at Gesa Field, but the Air Raid can’t find enough cracks in an Oregon defense led by first-year coach Dan Lanning, who guided the Georgia Bulldogs’ superpowered defensive unit over the past three seasons. UO, 33-26.

Oct. 1 vs. California

WSU comes out firing on homecoming and maintains its big early lead over a middling Cal team. WSU, 40-24.

Oct. 8 at USC

Southern Cal is off to the Big Ten Conference in two years. So, the Trojans have a target on their back and will probably get everyone’s best shot this season. But USC also has a talent advantage over perhaps all of its Pac-12 peers. The Trojans, who rejuvenated their program this offseason with the addition of a vaunted head coach (Lincoln Riley) and a host of standout transfers, present matchup issues for WSU’s secondary. USC, 41-28.

Oct. 15 at Oregon State

This one is a toss-up, but history points to WSU as the favorite. The Beavers’ stout rushing attack and play-action game gives WSU’s defense a considerable challenge, but the Cougars’ aerial attack proves too explosive for Oregon State’s defensive backs to contain. The Cougars extend their winning streak over OSU to nine games. WSU, 34-26.

Oct. 27 vs. Utah

Utah, visiting Pullman for the first time in four years, grinds out its fourth consecutive win over the Cougars. The Utes, the favorites to win the Pac-12 this season, churn out a few long possessions behind veteran QB Cam Rising, and their loaded defensive front rattles WSU’s unproven offensive line on a bitter Thursday night. Utah, 27-16.

Nov. 5 at Stanford

Cameron Ward outduels touted Cardinal QB Tanner McKee, and the Cougars’ veteran-laden defensive line clamps down on Stanford’s persistent ground game as WSU extends its winning streak in the series to six games. WSU, 30-17.

Nov. 12 vs. Arizona State

The hosts shouldn’t drop this one against a rebuilt ASU team and its embattled coach, but we’re going to stick an oddball upset loss here – just because there always seems to be a wacky home game on WSU’s schedule each year. The Cougs and Devils trade blows in a shootout for much of the night during a wild edition of “Pac-12 After Dark.” Ward leads an up-tempo possession in crunch time but a potential walk-off field goal misses the mark in wintry conditions. ASU, 31-29.

Nov. 19 at Arizona

The Cougs take out their frustrations on a struggling Wildcats team led by former WSU QB Jayden de Laura, who sees steady pressure in his pocket throughout the night. WSU, 40-14.

Nov. 26 vs. Washington

The Cougars retain the Apple Cup trophy. Dickert improves to 2-0 in the rivalry series. Why not? UW is also playing under a first-year coach. The Huskies won’t be the same four-win team that we saw last year, but how much better can they be? WSU, 38-27.