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Washington State Cougars 2018 Football Schedule and Analysis

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If Washington State wanted a schedule favorable to a season where it is breaking in a new quarterback, this slate should do the trick. The Cougars have only two really challenging road games in Pac-12 play — at USC and at Stanford. Mike Leach's team also gets potentially tough Pac-12 opponents Washington, Utah and Arizona all in Pullman. Only the Trojans and the Utes pop up on the schedule before late October.

Washington State Cougars head coach Mike Leach

The non-conference slate features a trip to Wyoming in the season opener and a Week 3 rematch with an Eastern Washington team from the FCS ranks that upset Washington State two seasons ago. The Cougars have seven home games this season and will play against seven opponents who reached a bowl game in 2017.

Washington State Cougars 2018 Schedule

Bye: Week 7

Week 1 – Sept. 1 at Wyoming (Laramie, Wy.)

Playing in Laramie is never easy, but replacing projected first-round NFL draft pick Josh Allen at quarterback could mean major growing pains. Trey Woods or oft-injured Kellen Overstreet need take a step forward in the backfield to give Wyoming's offense a boost after combining for just 974 rushing yards last season.

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Week 2 – Sept. 8 vs. San Jose State (Pullman, Wash.)

The offensively challenged Spartans shouldn't offer much resistance to the Cougars. San Jose State ranked among the bottom 10 FBS teams a year ago in both total offense (318.1 ypg) and scoring offense (15.8 ppg).

College Football Rankings: San Jose State

Week 3 – Sept. 15 vs. Eastern Washington (Pullman, Wash.)

It isn't often that a game with an FCS opponent gets circled on the calendar, Still, you can bet the Cougars are itching to dish out revenge after enduring a 45-42 upset loss to the Eagles two years ago.

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Week 4 – Sept. 21 at USC (Los Angeles)

Can the Cougars pull the upset a second straight year? Losing standouts Sam Darnold and Ronald Jones to the NFL means that the Trojans may not have all the kinks worked out on offense early in the season.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: USC

Week 5 – Sept. 29 vs. Utah (Pullman, Wash.)

The Utes are one of the early favorites to contend for the Pac-12 South crown. Utah's offense could be its most productive and effective in many years with quarterback Tyler Huntley and 1,000-yard running back Zack Moss both looking to build on breakout sophomore seasons.

NCAAF Top 25 Rankings: Utah

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Week 6 – Oct. 6 at Oregon State (Corvallis, Ore.)

A long rebuilding job is ahead in Corvallis. Oregon State has gone winless in the Pac-12 North twice in the last three seasons and will face an uphill climb again this fall under first-year head coach Jonathan Smith.

College football rankings: Oregon State

Week 8 – Oct. 20 vs. Oregon (Pullman, Wash.)

Trying to limit the damage Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert can do won't be a simple task. Herbert only played eight games in 2017 because of injuries, but he threw for 1,983 yards and 15 touchdowns while completing 67.5 percent of his passes.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Oregon

Week 9 – Oct. 27 at Stanford (Stanford, Calif.)

Running back Bryce Love's decision to return for his senior season makes the Cardinal a Pac-12 North title contender once again. The Cougars were the only team to hold Love under 100 rushing yards last year, but might not be that lucky this time around. Love is coming off a season where he rushed for 2,118 yards while averaging 8.1 yards per carry.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Stanford

Week 10 – Nov. 3 vs. California (Pullman, Wash.)

Everything went wrong for the Cougars against the Bears in a 37-3 loss last season, as Cal forced seven turnovers and allowed just 337 total yards. It will take some work to get it right this fall.

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Week 11 – Nov. 10 at Colorado (Boulder, Colo.)

The Buffaloes face some major rebuilding on offense with the graduation of running back Phillip Lindsay and top receivers Bryce Bobo, Shay Fields and Devin Ross. Their overall fortunes will likely hinge on how much Steven Montez progresses at quarterback.

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Week 12 – Nov. 17 vs. Arizona (Pullman, Wash.)

Dual-threat quarterback Khalil Tate will make the Wildcats a tough out for every opponent this season and put them in contention for the Pac-12 South crown. Tate churned out 1,411 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground last season, while averaging an incredible 9.2 yards per carry.

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Week 13 – Nov. 23 vs. Washington (Pullman, Wash.)

The Huskies have owned the Apple Cup in recent seasons and this is not likely to change with quarterback Jake Browning and running back Myles Gaskins back for one more season. Gaskin, in particular, shredded the Cougars for 192 rushing yards and four touchdowns in a 41-14 loss last fall.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Washington

— Written by John Coon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports and many others. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports.