Here is my look at this week’s Pac-12 match-up between the Cougars and Beavers.
LAST WEEK for WSU: Lost to the Oregon Ducks, 51-26. The Cougars had the same number of first downs, turnovers and third down conversions for first down. They also had higher time of possession (32:10 to 27:50), 240 more passing yards and only down four at halftime. Yet, were pasted at home by 25 points. The difference: Ducks had 300 yards rushing to Washington State’s negative eight yards.
LAST WEEK for OSU: Beat Arizona Wildcats 38-35. This game might have tilted more the Beavers way had a series of miscues or unfortunate incidents at the end of the first half played out differently. With just over a minute to go in the first half, OSU had first and goal. After a penalty, negative gain, two incomplete passes and a missed field goal, the Beavs only led 17-7 giving the Wildcats momentum for the second half. The game turned in to a nail biter with a late Oregon State score sealing the deal along with an interception by OSU’s Rashaad Reynolds in the final minute.
WSU Offense vs. OSU Defense: Against the Ducks, Washington State had 410 yards passing as starting Cougar quarterback Connor Halliday tossed up 60 attempts with 33 completions (348 yards/5.8 average). As mentioned earlier, their running game was horrific. Negative net yards gained. Ouch. The Beaver defense could be salivating at the Cougar running corps. Keep it in guys. because the OSU defense was torched last week in the secondary. Arizona gained a respectable 142 yards on the ground, but Wildcat quarterback Matt Scott lit up the OSU defensive backfield for 403 yards. The Beavers won’t soon forget that, so look for them to be hungry and aggressive on the Cougar air attack.
OSU Offense vs. WSU Defense: I’ll do my best to not be a homer on this one. Storm Woods for the Beavs is showing massive potential. After rushing for 161 yards against Arizona on 29 carries, this redshirt freshman could be reaching for the oxygen tank against a Cougar defense which gave up 300 yards on the ground to the Ducks. Two bills (200 yards), not out of the questions for Woods. OSU’s sophomore quarterback Sean Mannion appears to be looking more comfortable each game. While I believe he could be slightly more sharp, it is difficult to be overly critical of his 433-yard performance last week. Having Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks as fleet and reliable wideouts is making life easier for OSU. Meanwhile, a tale of two halves can only describe the Cougars’ defense last week. In the first half, the defensive line was stout at the line of scrimmage keeping Oregon in check. In the second half, either they fell asleep or the Ducks woke up. After halftime, they couldn’t stop a turtle and got blown out. This defense is going to be severely tested in a road contest where the home team appears to be only moving up.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Trevor Romaine for OSU is 9 for 9 on extra points and 4 of 6 on field goals. For Washington State, Andrew Furney is 14 of 15 on extra points, 7 for 9 on field goals. The Cougars have played two more games than the Beavers. I once heard Bill Parcells talk to a doctor about the kicker. The doctor told Parcells he did not think the kicker could play. Parcells replied, “He doesn’t have to play, he just has to kick.” Look for one of these guys to be kicking a lot (Romaine) and one not kicking or playing (Furney).
PREDICTION: Washington State will need a spirited effort similar to the one put forth against Oregon last week in the first half to come out of this game victorious. They are 97th overall in points against them (32.6) and head coach Mike Leach will need some inspirational words. Beaver players are saying all the right things about staying hungry. Now, in the midst of a ‘what could be’ season, OSU coach Mike Riley needs to keep the fire burning in everyone to stay away from upset alert. Long and short: Beavers win 37-7.