Category archive: Washington State Cougars

Back in January we took a look at my man Mark Schlabach's Way-Too-Early Top 25 and did some speculating on which teams within that 25 should make big early moves up or down based on strength of schedule.

But what about the teams that likely will start the 2012 season outside the Top 25? Which of those squads could we see entering the rankings early and often?

We took a look at Schlabach's most recent rankings and came up with seven outside his top 25 that have the potential to rise into the polls early.

Washington State Cougars

First four games: at BYU, Eastern Washington, at UNLV, Colorado

People are hyped about what's happening at Wazzu, and not just the folks in Pullman. There's national buzz, and it won't take much for Associated Press voters to buy in. If the Cougars can launch the Mike Leach era with a win over another set of Cougars in a nationally televised Thursday night season opener at BYU (no easy task, but not impossible, either), that bandwagon will need new shocks to handle all the folks climbing aboard.

After Provo, it's three weeks of opponents that include FCS school Eastern Washington and then UNLV and Colorado, who combined to win five games last season. By the time State hosts Oregon on Sept. 29, it could be 4-0 and in the 20-25 range of the AP poll.

Illinois Fighting Illini

First four games: Western Michigan, at Arizona State, Charleston Southern, La. Tech