Against Montana State, No. 24 WSU is determined to end its opening game losing streak

The Cougars have learned from previous mistakes. They’re not going to overlook Montana State

The Washington State football team has heard all the snickers and snide comments about their – shhh – opening game losing streak.

Mike Leach can’t seem to get the team prepared to start the season.

The Cougars can’t win a season opener.

WSU can’t beat FCS teams.

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Yes, the Cougars are 0-5 in season opening games in Leach’s tenure, and yes, the “5” in the losing column includes two-straight defeats to FCS teams – Portland State in 2015, Eastern Washington in 2016 – though, to be fair, it also includes a respectable 31-24 defeat at Auburn in 2013.

These Cougars have had months to stew over the disappointing way they ended last season – three-straight losses, including one to Minnesota in the Holiday Bowl – and the way they started 2016 in lackluster fashion by losing to EWU.

Now, they’re ready to put an end to all talk of season opening jinxes and to quiet their detractors.

When the 24th-ranked Cougars step on the field at Martin Stadium for their season opener against Montana State on Saturday night, they’re going to be ready for anything the Bobcats can throw at them, they say.

“We haven’t had a win in Week 1 since Leach has been here. We think if we want to help build that legacy and start this season the way we should, we need to focus on that first week like we never have before,” said middle linebacker Peyton Pelluer. “We’re doing a better job of just focusing on the task at hand instead of looking forward.”

The Cougars will admit now that they overlooked the Eagles last season.

Going into last year’s opening game, “we had no respect for EWU,” says senior running back Gerard Wicks. “We thought we were just gonna go out there and smack ‘em. But they ended up beating us.”

With time and hindsight, the Cougars claim they’ve learned from previous mistakes and have doubled-down to follow Leach’s credo: “Respect everyone, fear no one.”

Maturity has also helped in that regard. This WSU squad boasts 20 seniors on the roster, 19 of whom are in the depth chart as significant contributors.

“We’re older this year, we’ve had more experience than we’ve had,” Leach said. “I think that’s helpful because I think a lot of the time, adjusting to the first game has been difficult for some of our young guys. We…

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