Washington State has opened as a 17.5-point favorite over Colorado in a Saturday Pac-12 opener in Pullman, and forgive the Cougars if they feel a bit out of sorts about it.
Clearly, this is a reflection of how far Colorado has fallen off the map in college football, much as WSU was in recent years. The Buffs (0-3) lost 69-14 to Fresno State Saturday evening, while WSU has been less than impressive in going 2-1 and struggling to put away Eastern Washington and UNLV.
How long has it been since WSU has been favored by 17 or more in a Pac-12/Pac-10 game? You have to go all the way back to 2003 when the Cougars won 10 games. They played Arizona in Pullman in the first game of interim coach Mike Hankwitz, who was taking over for John Mackovic, and won 30-7 as a 28.5-point favorite.
Only once during the Paul Wulff regime were the Cougars favored in a Pac-12 game, when they were a three-point choice over Oregon State last year at CenturyLink Field. They got whomped 44-21. Matter of fact, the last two times they were favored in a Pac-12 game, it was both by three over Oregon State, and the result was similar. In Bill Doba’s last year (2007), the Cougars were a late-season, three-point choice over OSU and were routed in Pullman, 52-17.
Last time, then, WSU won a Pac-12/Pac-10 game (and covered a spread) as a favorite? It was as an 11-point choice, when it beat Stanford, 33-17, in the game before that OSU loss in 2007.
But what about the last time the Cougars were favored by this much in a league game, won and covered the spread? Oddly, it wasn’t during either of the Rose Bowl seasons of 2002 or 1997. It goes back to Drew Bledsoe’s last year in Pullman, 1992, when the Cougars beat Oregon State, 35-10, as an 18-point favorite.