Washington State (1-0) vs. Oregon (1-0)
4 p.m. Saturday, Martin Stadium
TV/Radio: Fox; 710 ESPN AM
Latest line: Oregon favored by 10 1/2
WSU key players
QB Jayden de Laura: 18 of 33, 227 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
RB Deon McIntosh: 18 rushes, 147 yards, 1 TD
WR Travell Harris: 7 receptions, 110 yards, 2 TDs; 2 rushes, 49 yards, 1 TD
DE Brennan Jackson: 7 tackles, .5 sacks
Oregon key players
QB Tyler Shough: 17 of 26, 227 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
RB CJ Verdell: 20 rushes, 105 yards, 1 TD
TE DJ Johnson: 5 rec., 55 yards, 1 TD
LB Isaac Slade-Matautia: 5 tackles, 1 TFL
We’ll say it again: Stop the run
This was a key against Oregon State as well, and the Cougars showed substantial improvement in this area in the 38-28 win over the Beavers. Oregon State’s Jermar Jefferson rushed for 120 yards against WSU last week, but the Beavers rushed for just 122 yards as a team and 3.9 yards per rush. Last year, the Cougars allowed a Pac-12 worst 185.5 rushing yards and 4.9 yards per carry. WSU’s new 4-2-5 defensive scheme will get a much tougher test against the run this week. Oregon has been one of the top rushing teams in the conference for years and rushed for 269 yards last week. If the Cougars can slow down the Ducks’ running game, they should have a chance to win.
A balanced offense
It had to make WSU fans very nervous when star running back Max Borghi was surprisingly out of action last week against Oregon State. But Deon McIntosh did a great job taking over the lead role, with 147 of WSU’s 229 rushing yards. The Cougars passed for 227 yards against the Beavers, with the success of the running game undoubtedly making things a bit easier for true freshman quarterback Jayden de Laura.
The battle of the young QBs
WSU true freshman de Laura and Oregon sophomore Tyler Shough each threw for 227 yards in leading their teams to victories last week in their first college starts, and both showed they are a threat to run. Shough rushed for 85 yards in a 35-14 win over Stanford and de Laura rushed for 43 yards. The young quarterback who plays the best — and avoiding mistakes is a huge part of that — will likely be the one celebrating at the end.
The Cougars’ win last week, particularly with so many players absent, was very impressive, but this is a huge jump in the level of competition. Oregon was picked to win the Pac-12 North and OSU was picked fifth. We’ll have a much better idea how good WSU is after this game.
Prediction: Oregon 38, Washington State 31.