Washington State went a strong 9-4 last year. It was a resurgent season for a team that had been in a rut. And somehow, it happened despite Wazzu starting its season with a loss against an FCS team, Portland State.
The Cougars are now looking for a sequel. They suffered a somewhat embarrassing 45-42 loss against Eastern Washington in their 2016 opener last week, and now they'll have to climb out of a hole just as they did a year ago. It's not impossible, by any stretch, but it's not a good place from which to start for Mike Leach's program.
Standing in the way: Boise State, which isn't a Power 5 team but has traditionally played like one. The Broncos put a 45-10 beating on Louisiana-Lafayette last weekend, and they looked impressive doing it. Now Wazzu's coming to the blue turf at Albertsons Stadium for what should be one of Week 2's more competitive games. The Broncos have a fairly soft schedule until BYU on Oct. 20, and a win would keep them on course for nine or 10 wins, at least.
How to watch, stream and listen
TV: 10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN2. The announcers are Mark Jones and Rod Gilmore.
Online streaming: WatchESPN
Spread: Boise State opened as a 12-point favorite.
Three big things to know
1. Boise State's right outside the top 25. A win against a Power 5 team, even one that suffered a bad loss, could push the Broncos into the AP rankings for the first time in almost a calendar year.
2. Boise State's recent history against the Pac-12 is good. Since 2006, the Broncos are 8-3 against the Pac-12 (not including a couple of wins against Utah, which wasn't then in the league). They've won a Fiesta Bowl against Arizona and beat Washington before the Huskies took off a little bit last year. This team swings pretty well against the Power 5, which is why it barely feels like an upset anymore when the Broncos beat someone from a big league.
3. Wazzu needs a big night from Luke Falk. The Cougar quarterback is the active all-time leader in passing yards per game (360), and he was brilliant in getting WSU to nine wins last year. The Eastern Washington loss wasn't on him (he threw for 418 yards and four touchdowns), but that's immaterial. Wazzu's defense is going to give up points against BSU, and the Cougs will need Falk to make up for it.