Washington State (0-0) vs. Utah State (0-0)
8 p.m. Saturday, Martin Stadium
TV/Radio: Pac-12 Networks; 770 KTTH AM
Latest line: WSU favored by 17
WSU key players
RB Max Borghi: 10 rushes, 95 yards, 1 TD*
RB Deon McIntosh: 52 rushes, 323 yards, 3 TDs*
WR Travell Harris: 29 receptions, 340 yards, 2 TDs; 5 rushes, 61 yards, 2 TDs*
LB Jahad Woods: 31 tackles, 4.5 TFL*’
Utah State key players
QB Logan Bonner: 156 of 262, 1,863 yards, 18 TD, 1 INT**
RB Calvin Tyler Jr.: 15 rushes, 45 yards, 2 TDs***
WR Deven Thompkins: 20 rec., 214 yards, 1 TD*
LB AJ Vongphachanh: 5 tackles, 1 TFL*
**2020 stats with Arkansas State
***2020 stats with Oregon State
A good start is important for the Cougars and for the player who emerges from the starting quarterback battle between Jayden de Laura and Jarrett Gaurantano. Utah State is coming off a 1-5 season and has a new coach, and if the Cougars can jump on the Aggies quickly, it could be a rather easy victory. If Utah State gets the lead or keeps it close early, this game might not be decided until the final minutes.
Run the ball
Max Borghi is one of the best running backs in the country, and Deon McIntosh showed what he could do last year when Borghi was injured. Add in Wisconsin transfer Nakia Watson and this looks like the Cougars’ best unit — offense or defense. The Cougars need to get their running backs the ball often, and not just on passes. They should also get a lot of carries, which will take pressure off the quarterback.
A better defense
The Cougars ranked 11th in the Pac-12 in both yards and points allowed last season, and that might be the biggest reason the team was 1-3. The Cougars had a legitimate excuse last season with a new staff getting limited time to prepare. Players and coaches are expecting the defense to be much better this season. They need to be correct.
The Cougars and the Aggies each had one win last season, but the Cougars played two fewer games. Utah State figures to get better as the season goes on under new coach Blake Anderson, who had good success at Arkansas State, but the Cougars should be too good for the Aggies in the season opener.
Prediction: Washington State 42, Utah State 27