This could be the most formidable Cougars squad in a decade. Better yet, Montana State isn't exactly the FCS foe Eastern Washington was.

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Game 1

Sept. 2 vs. Montana State
7:30 p.m. | FS1

The infamous stat is well-known by all Cougars fans: 0-5. As in, in Mike Leach’s five seasons as Washington State’s head coach, the Cougars have yet to win a season opener. But after two consecutive season-opening defeats to FCS teams, this year, surely, will be WSU’s time to finally snap that ignominious streak, right?

Game 2

Sept. 9 vs. Boise State
7:30 p.m. | ESPN or ESPN2

The game last year against Boise State ended with a defeat in Boise, and Leach calling his team soft. Trust that the Cougars will not let history repeat itself this year. At home and out to prove themselves to their head coach against the Broncos, the result this time will be different.

Game 3

Sept. 16 vs. Oregon State
2:30 p.m. | Pac-12 Networks

The Beavers are much improved in Gary Andersen’s third season. With Marysville product and former Idaho quarterback Jake Luton directing an offense that features dynamic running back Ryan Nall, the Beavers will be competitive. This one will be close, but the Cougars should emerge victorious.

Game 4

Sept. 23 vs. Nevada
Game time TBA

It’s Air Raid vs. Air Raid as the Cougars take on a new-look Nevada team led by offensive coordinator Matt Mumme, the son of Hal Mumme who invented the Air Raid along with Mike Leach. The Wolf Pack’s offense will feature former WSU walk-on slot receiver Kaleb Fossum, but it’ll take a lot for the fledgling Air Raid to outplay Leach at his own game.

Game 5

Sept. 29 vs. USC
7:30 p.m. | ESPN

Consider this a midterm exam for the Cougars. If they are, as we predict, 4-0 going into this big Friday night tilt against Pac-12 title favorite USC, this game will show us exactly what they’re made of. A victory could vault WSU into the top 10 nationally. But even a close defeat could act as a barometer of how this season could go.

Game 6

Oct. 7 at Oregon
Game time TBA

On the road in Eugene once again, the Cougars will be hoping to engineer a second consecutive road victory at Oregon. There are enough seniors on this team who recall what it was like to beat the Ducks in overtime in 2015, and they’ll be raring to do it again against an Oregon team with former Cougs defensive line coach Joe Salave’a now wearing green and yellow.

Game 7

Oct. 13 at California
7:30 p.m. | ESPN

Cal faces a massive rebuild in the first year of new head coach Justin Wilcox’s regime. The defense should be better than it has been in years past, but it’s unlikely that this offense will be able to match WSU’s offensive fireworks as it has in the past. This one should be over quickly, perhaps in time to get Tyler Hilinski and the backups some meaningful snaps.

Game 8

Oct. 21 vs. Colorado
Game time TBA

The Cougs have not forgotten how their defeat against Colorado last season snapped an eight-game win streak and sent them into a tailspin from which they did not recover. With the Buffaloes rebuilding on defense after losing eight starters and defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt, expect the Cougars to attack with a newfound fury.

Game 9

Oct. 28 at Arizona
Game time TBA

It’s possible that Rich Rodriguez is no longer employed as Arizona’s head coach by this point of the season. Even if he is, and if the Wildcats are still showing signs of life, it’s unlikely that they’ll fare all that well against the Cougs. They’ll just be lucky if the score isn’t as brutal as the 69-7 beatdown last season.

Game 10

Nov. 4 vs. Stanford
Game time TBA

Here we go. Into the homestretch, with three Pac-12 heavyweights back-to-back-to-back. The Cougars’ Pac-12 championship campaign intensifies with this Senior Night game against a Stanford team they finally beat last year for the first time in Leach’s tenure. Stanford boasts the best defensive secondary in the league, so if WSU can win this one, they’ll do it with the ground game.

Game 11

Nov. 11 at Utah
Game time TBA

Did the Utes make the right decision in naming sophomore Tyler Huntley the starting quarterback over senior Troy Williams, who was voted captain by his teammates? By this point of the year, they’ll have the answer. But Utah should be tough nonetheless.

Game 12

Nov. 25 at UW
Game time TBA

The Cougars haven’t beaten the Huskies since 2012, and this senior class wants this one badly. But it’s going to be tough to knock off this well-rounded Huskies team that could easily be in playoff contention again. With Jake Browning, Dante Pettis and Myles Gaskin on offense, and Azeem Victor, Greg Gaines, Keishawn Bierria and Taylor Rapp back on defense, the Huskies are a huge challenge.