Or should that be the basement?
In any case, the question going into this week is just how good (or bad) is WSU? Let’s take a quick look through their games to see:
WSU 24 – Auburn 31: A relatively close loss to a better than expected Auburn. Since the first game, Auburn has destroyed Arkansas St. and Mississippi St., neither of whom are any good, and then lost a close one to #6 LSU, which suggests that Auburn might not be half bad. Considering WSU lost that one on the road, this game alone suggests WSU might not be half bad. Parting thought: How does this compare to Cal’s 30-44 loss to Northwestern? Probably a bit stronger.
WSU 10 – USC 7: USC is an enigma. They look horrible against Hawaii and WSU, then look not-half-bad against Syracuse and Boston College, all of this led by their defense. Then their defense decides to disappear against ASU and they lose that one in a shootout. Overall, this win for WSU is not as impressive as it seemed at the time, but I think it does show two things: 1. WSU can be stopped by a good defense and 2. WSU’s defense isn’t terrible.
WSU 48 – S. Utah 10: Meaningless game versus a really crummy opponent. Portland state will crush SUU in a couple weeks.
WSU 42 – Idaho 0: If you thought SUU was bad, Idaho is 1-4 losing to North Texas, Wyoming, Northern Illinois, in addition to WSU. Their victory over Temple is a bit of a mystery. But again, not a lot one can take from this, although the zero says something about WSU’s defense.
WSU 17 – Stanford 55: Stanford is looking really good and they showed it against WSU. WSU had no answers. They gave 120% for a half to keep the score to 17-3 at halftime and then the wheels came off the bus. At the end they got some pity points, to make it look like the WSU offense wasn’t stifled, but they were.
After looking through it all, it’s hard not to see that WSU has improved significantly over years past. Leach is starting to make a dent up on the frozen potato patch. However, the Stanford game demonstrates that they’re not quite there yet. Both USC and Stanford showed that good defenses can shut them down (oh how I wish Cal had a good defense!?!). WSU’s defense is showing signs of life, but also has shown it has a way to go.
So are they still the Pac-12 north’s basement? I’d answer: maybe. We’ll know after they play both Cal and OSU. Their improvement is enough that it’s anyone’s guess, which is a positive sign for WSU fans and a warning for Cal fans. But until they show it on the grid-iron, it’s too soon to say they’re out of the basement.