After a week and a half of prognosticating, toe tapping and general antsyness, it’s finally time to suit up. Arizona State football has traveled to the windswept Palouse of eastern Washington to take on the Old Pirate, Mike Leach, and his WSU Cougars.
Why is this particular game always so worrisome for ASU fans?
After all, the Sun Devils lead the all-time series against Washington State, 24-13-2 and are winners of nine of the last 10 contests against the Cougars. ASU has outscored Wazzu 183-58 in the last five games, including two shutouts during that span (2008 and 2010).
Last season, ASU battered Leach’s troops, 46-7, in a matchup that was decided soon after the opening kickoff. The Devils jumped out to an 18-0 lead after the first quarter of play and at one point held a 46-0 lead. Only a garbage-time TD kept the Cougs from getting shut out.
Still, the Pullman “thing” makes some Arizona State fans fret. You know…the cold weather, barren landscape and unnatural obsession of the local populace with all things WSU. This sort of stuff has a built-in intimidation factor for visiting teams.
Fortunately, ASU head coach Todd Graham is putting a stop to such nonsense. Addressing the media this week, he said: “If I sit here and say…‘Aw, it’s going to be cold’ or ‘it’s going to be this.’ That’s (all) excuses. You lose on the road because you’re not prepared, not focused, and you don’t play well. That’s it. If you want to be a champion, and that’s what we talk about, winning championships, there are no excuses. You can go play in rain, sleet, snow, Alaska, Maine; it doesn’t matter where it’s at. You go to win.”
I like Coach Graham’s sensibility. After all, Pullman shouldn’t be any more inhospitable than any other Pac-12 host city. Games like tonight’s are all about the proper mindset. Those who prepare well should expect to play well. That’s why I’m predicting a Sun Devil victory.
I do hope the ASU equipment staff packed plenty of warm gloves and long-johns for the team. It can be downright freezing in Pullman!
Oh, never mind…!