Washington State is catching Oregon at a vulnerable time. But can the Cougs put together enough of a complete game to come out on top in Eugene?
WSU Players to watch
QB Luke Falk – 364.8 pass yards per game
WR Gabe Marks –103.5 rec yards per game
CB Marcellus Pippins – 2 INT
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LB Kache Palacio – 4 sacks
DE Hercules Mata’afa – 4 TFL
Oregon Players to watch
RB Royce Freeman – 7 rush TD
RB Taj Griffin – 70.5 rush yards per game
WR Bralon Addison – 45.0 rec yards per game
DE DeForest Buckner – 5 TFL
OLB Christian French—2 sacks
3 p.m. Pac-12 Networks
Keys for WSU
Protect the quarterback
WSU’s offensive line can’t afford to give up as many sacks as it did last week. On the other hand, quarterback Luke Falk also has to make sure he gets rid of the ball more expediently.
Exploit Oregon’s young secondary
The Cougars rolled for 501 total offensive yards against Oregon last season, and this year’s edition of the game could yield the same kind of production. Oregon has the worst pass defense in the Pac-12 and has allowed 16 touchdowns and 287.2 yards per game this season.
Beware the Ducks’ deadly placekicker
Aidan Schneider is the only kicker in the league who is perfect through five games in 2015. He’s connected on all eight field goals and all 25 of his PATs. So if it comes down to a field goal to win it, the odds will be in Oregon’s favor.
Stop the run
WSU’s defense did a masterful job limiting Cal to 72 rushing yards, but it faces a far stiffer test this week against the Ducks’ rushing game. Oregon literally runs away with wins when its backfield tandem of Royce Freeman (122.6 yards per game) and Taj Griffin (70.5) gets on a roll. If the Cougs can hold Freeman and Griffin at bay, that will be a huge testament to just how effective their new defense really is against quality opposition.
Prediction: Oregon 42, WSU 35
Now, some links:
— ESPN.com’s Chantel Jennings breaks down Oregon vs. WSU here
— Oregon’s young cornerback Ugo Amadi is showing some impressive confidence five games into his career. He’s looking forward to taking on the Air Raid, says Andrew Greif of The Oregonian.
— Jacob Thorpe says the Cougs are focused on stopping running back Royce Freeman
— We still have no idea who will play quarterback for the Ducks against WSU
— CougCenter.com did this Q&A with its Oregon counterpart to preview the Ducks/WSU matchup
— The Ducks simply can’t score points in droves the way they used to.
— Freshman WR Jalen Brown has caught his teammates’ attention