16. Washington State Cougars
Biggest Trap Game: at Arizona State (Oct. 12)
Mike Leach and the Washington State Cougars caught lightning in a bottle last season when East Carolina transfer Gardner Minshew stepped in for the departed Luke Falk and lit defenses on fire. Minshew had the Cougars sniffing around in the top 10 teams in college football for much of the year and set Pac-12 passing records. Oh, and let’s not forget that he also changed the mustache game for the better.
With Minshew himself now gone to the NFL, though, Leach and the Cougars are no doubt betting on finding that same kind of magic again. Given what former Eastern Washington quarterback Gage Gubrud did throughout his time in the FCS and Leach’s ability to scheme up a beautiful, productive offense, it feels like they’re making a good bet.
There are a lot of returnees that figure to be good for the Cougars in 2019, though. The bulk of the receiving corps is heading back to Pullman and, while they must replace Andre Dillard at tackle, they have solid offensive line experience ready to roll. Moreover, a defense that was sneaky impressive last season returns the bulk of their starters as well.
Having said that, Wazzu needs to be wary of their midseason date in Tempe against the Arizona State Sun Devils. Not only does Herm Edwards’ team have a ton of upside but the game comes in the middle of a run that takes the Cougars playing at Utah, at Arizona State, at home vs. Colorado and then at Oregon. That’s a tough stretch and the Sun Devils are easily the one that could be overlooked, but shouldn’t be.