Historically, WSU adept at being big favorite

Special to Cougfan.com
Posted Sep 21, 2012


WASHINGTON STATE opened the week as a 14½-point favorite over Colorado, but few bettors got a chance to collect on that generous spread. As the days closed toward kickoff, the Cougars’ favoritism has soared. By Friday, the line was up to 20 points in most Vegas betting joints. Which begs the question: Just how uncharted is this kind of favoritism for the Cougars?

In the most-recent term, it’s rare. But as it turns out over the long haul, Washington State is familiar with playing the role as a big favorite. Better yet, the Cougars are pretty good at it.

Since 1993, Washington State’s point spread record is 23-20 as a double-digit favorite. In games where the Cougars were favored by at least 20 points, they are 5-6.

The last time Washington State was a double-digit favorite was 2011, when the Cougars blitzed Nevada-Las Vegas 59-7 as a 13-point favorite. Saturday’s game against Colorado is only the second time since 2007 that Washington State was favored by more than 10 points.

But dating back to 2007, WSU was regularly in the role of a double-digit favorite. In fact, each season from 1993 to 2007, the Cougars were favored by 10 points at least once. Since 2003, WSU has been favored by at least 20 points five times, though all but once against Idaho. The largest spread of the past 10 years was in 2003, when the Cougars were a 32-point favorite over Arizona, a game they won 30-7 in Pullman.

Over the years, Washington State has covered some ridiculously large spreads. During the 1997 Rose Bowl season, the Cougars successfully conquered the line as a 46-point favorite against Southwest Louisiana (77-7), and a 39-point choice against Boise State (58-0). In 1993, WSU covered a 27-point spread in beating Montana 54-14 (hey, Vegas says there was a spread on that game way back when!).

As you might expect, most times in which WSU was heavily favored were considered home games, be it Martin Stadium or Seattle. In those games, the Cougars were 18-15 as a double-digit home favorite.

As a favorite of more than 20 points, Washington State is in a bit of a funk. The Cougars have lost five consecutive games when favored by at least 20 points, dating back to 2003. The last time WSU won and covered a game as a three-touchdown favorite was 2002, when the Cougars were 27-point favorites in a 49-14 win over Idaho.

Washington State’s most successful season against the betting line was 1997, when the Cougars were 4-2 as a double-digit favorite. Fortunately in those games, WSU was 6-0 on the scoreboard.

During the past 20 years, this is the fifth time Washington State has played Colorado. The Cougars are 3-1 against Colorado during this time frame, though all three wins were as an underdog. The one time WSU was favored against Colorado, it lost 20-12 in 2004 as a 2-point favorite.


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