Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

WSU’s road in 2023: Favorable schedule early should keep Cougs in bowl contention in final Pac-12 season

Sept. 2 at Colorado State

(4 p.m.)

In a rematch of last season’s game in Pullman, a 38-7 WSU win, the Cougars are ready to make it two straight. They’ll have to get pressure on CSU quarterback Clay Millen, who is back for his second year with the Rams, and they’ll have to get their new-look offense clicking in their first game of the season. Do all that and they’re looking at a 1-0 start.

Prediction: WSU 31-13

Sept. 9 vs. Wisconsin

(4:30 p.m.)

For the Cougars, making it two straight over the Badgers will be a much taller task than making it two straight over the Rams. After last year’s upset win over Wisconsin in Madison, WSU will need to do much of what unlocked that victory. The Cougars will need to bottle up Badgers running back Braelon Allen – and limit turnovers, which almost cost them that game.

Prediction: Wisconsin 24-21

Sept. 16 vs. Northern Colorado

(2 p.m.)

In WSU’s final nonconference tune-up, the Cougars will get a chance to beat up on one of the FCS Big Sky’s worst teams. If Cameron Ward can throw some early touchdown passes and if Washington State’s defense can create a turnover or two, the hosts will have no problem dispatching the Bears. Good luck drawing up a better start to the season for WSU.

Prediction: WSU 35-10

Sept. 23 vs. No. 18 Oregon State


In their first real test, the Cougars’ secondary gets a chance to defend Beavers quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, a transfer from Clemson. Can defensive backs Chau Smith-Wade and Jaden Hicks combine with edges Ron Stone Jr. and Brennan Jackson to disrupt him? Here’s guessing yes.

Prediction: WSU 30-27

Oct. 7 at UCLA


Washington State’s offensive line – and by extension, Ward – gets its first real test of the season in UCLA edge Laiatu Latu, who will surely cause trouble in the Cougars’ backfield. Can a new-look offensive line stack up and give Ward time to throw? If so, WSU is looking at a nice start to the season.

Prediction: WSU 20-17

Oct. 14 vs. Arizona


To earn a second straight win over the Wildcats and former Cougars quarterback Jayden de Laura, WSU will need to make sure he doesn’t link up with receiver Tetairoa McMillan too much. At 6-foot-5, McMillan has too much size for WSU’s cornerbacks.

Prediction: Arizona 28-24

Oct. 21 at No. 15 Oregon


There’s a reason WSU hasn’t won in Eugene in six years: Autzen Stadium provides a gigantic home-field advantage. With players like Heisman hopeful Bo Nix and running back Bucky Irving running the show for the Ducks, expect more of the same in this one. Washington State will suffer its third consecutive road loss to Oregon.

Prediction: Oregon 34-21

Oct. 28 at Arizona State


The Cougars will have no problem torching the defense of the Sun Devils, who profile as one of the Pac-12’s cellar-dwellers this fall. After two straight losses in the toughest chunk of its schedule, WSU and Ward will get a chance to right the ship with a win over a new-look club. The Cougars will take full advantage.

Prediction: WSU 35-24

Nov. 4 vs. Stanford


Take the over on whatever the over/under on this game turns out to be. Washington State and Ward will get an opportunity to air it out and rack up a bunch of scores over the Cardinal, who haven’t beaten the Cougars since 2015. Picked last in the Pac-12 preseason poll, Stanford will have trouble keeping up with WSU’s offense.

Prediction: WSU 38-17

Nov. 11 at Cal


In the middle of the softest part of their schedule, the Cougars get to roll to another win. Consider this a chance for WSU’s defense to impose its will, with Brennan Jackson and Ron Stone Jr. racking up sacks/pressures and Jaden Hicks nabbing an interception. WSU will treat the Bay Area like a home game.

Prediction: WSU 27-7

Nov. 17 vs. Colorado

(7:30 p.m.)

WSU will laugh at anyone who calls this a trap game. The Cougars might be looking forward to the following week’s Apple Cup, a highly anticipated one at that, but that won’t stop WSU from dismantling a Deion Sanders-led Buffaloes team. Look for Ward to trample Colorado’s secondary in this one.

Prediction: WSU 38-14

Nov. 25 at No. 10 Washington


The Cougars will be fired up , and rightfully so, facing a program that (along with Oregon) singlehandedly triggered the demise of the Pac-12. But the Huskies, armed with Heisman candidate QB Michael Penix Jr., received a Big Ten invite for a reason. They’ll make sure what could be the final Apple Cup in Seattle goes the hosts’ way.

Prediction: UW 21-16