SPOKANE, Wash. - The Washington State Cougars got their first Pac-12 win of the season against Colorado in Pullman last week. Saturday's game against the 11th ranked Ducks will be significantly tougher in Eugene, but the formula will be similar.
The Cougars defense was visibly better against the Buffs and that has to continue to come out of Autzen with a win. Part of that improved defense was the opportunities they took advantage of, forcing three turnovers. If WSU can do the same against the Ducks, their offense should put up enough points to win the game.
Turning the Ducks over is probably easier said than done. Quarterback Justin Herbert has been nearly flawless this season completing over 68 percent of his throws with 21 touchdowns and only 1 interception.
Oregon is behind only WSU for scoring offense in conference averaging almost 30 point per game. That's not a great matchup for the Cougars who, outside last week, have been shredded by lesser offenses. So the key for the Cougs on Defense is get enough pressure on Herbert to force him into a rare mistake. and if that happens, the Cougars have to make the play.
For the Cougar offense, the Ducks haven't been very successful against WSU in this four game Cougar winning streak. The Cougs have scored over 40 points per game in the last four years against Oregon. While the Duck defense is much improved this season giving up just 11 points per Pac-12 game, until they prove they can stop Mike Leach, we'll figure the Cougs can have success.
So, like any game, if the Cougs can force turnovers and take care of the ball themselves like they have the last four matchups, they should be set up for another win. The difference is, the Ducks are better this year. But how much better are they? The last three Cougar wins against Oregon haven't been that close. WSU has won by 24, 23, and 18 in those games.
The Ducks are 14 point favorites in this game, and judging by the performances of both teams over the last month, it's easy to see why. But sometimes, one team is just a tough matchup for another. It looks as though the Cougs are a tough matchup for the Ducks.
- Cougars take down Stanford, one win away from a bowl game
- Eagles hang on to beat Cal Poly in a shootout
- Idaho falls flat at home aginst Hornets
- No. 8 Gonzaga has no trouble in first road test, downing Texas A&M 79-49
- WSU women's soccer moves on in NCAA tourney with win over Memphis
- Coeur d'Alene advances to state championship, Mt. Spokane dismantles Peninsula