Before the basketball game gets going – you can watch it live on FSN – we have our first look at Oregon State and a short on Jason Stripling. And, oh ya, some basketball notes. By the way, Glenn Johnson is back. Read on.
• Don't be surprised if this game is closer than some experts might predict. Eastern is better than you might think, with a couple players – Benny Valentine and Brandon Moore – who could play at a lot of places and a bunch of role players who could go off on any given night. The Eagles are quick out front and, if their shots are falling, are going to be a tough out. ... One of the keys tonight is how well Marcus Capers defends Valentine. Will the 6-foot-4 Capers' length cause the 5-7 Valentine trouble? Or will Valentine prove to be too quick? It's an interesting matchup. By the way, Valentine came off the bench in the Eagles' opener and probably will tonight as well. ... The opposite is true inside, with the quick DeAngelo Casto matching up with the bulk (250 pounds) of the 6-9 Moore. Another fun one to watch.
• OK. Here's the first look at OSU ...
OREGON STATE AT WASHINGTON STATE
Time: 2 p.m. (PST) Saturday. TV: None
The records: WSU (1-9, 0-7 in Pac-10); Oregon State (7-3, 5-2)
Last week: Oregon State defeated Washington, 48-21
WSU lost to UCLA, 43-7
Last time: Oregon State defeated WSU, 66-13, in Corvallis last year.
The line: Oregon State by 31
What it means for WSU: As the season winds down, the Cougars need to start laying some sort of foundation for next year. But that's hard to do when starters are falling right and left, when being down 21 points at the end of the first quarter is the norm and when Martin Stadium turns into Holland Library after halftime. All that's left is effort, a desire, as center Kenny Alfred said following the UCLA loss, to fight from the first snap to the last. If that happens this week, WSU has achieved at least one goal.
What it means for OSU: The Rose Bowl. OK, that's a stretch, but to have a chance for its first Rose Bowl since 1965, Oregon State must take care of business Saturday. And avoid injuries. Pasadena's promised land could hinge on the Civil War in Eugene, Dec. 3. Any big injuries suffered this week would put a dagger in the Beavers' chances against their archrivals. So the game plan is simple: Get an early lead, build it, substitute liberally and head home healthy.
Key matchup: Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers vs. WSU's linebackers.
Rodgers might just be the Pac-10 offensive player of the year – again. The sophomore is third in the Pac-10 with 1,148 rushing yards – averaging 5.3 yards per carry – and second – to his brother James – in receptions per game. How the 5-foot-7, 191-pounder goes, so goes Oregon State's offense. Jacquizz suffered a stinger in his buttocks area against Washington, but OSU coach Mike Riley said Sunday he practiced and seemed fine. The Cougars can't say the same about their linebackers. Louis Bland, their best playmaker, has been out for weeks. And starter Jason Stripling is suspended after being arrested early Sunday morning. If he doesn't play, WSU must decide between moving Mike Ledgerwood outside or playing either rarely used Joshua Garrett or Hallston Higgins at the weakside spot. No matter what, the depth is affected.
• And the short on Stripling's arrest ...
PULLMAN – Washington State University linebacker Jason Stripling was arrested by the Pullman Police Department early Sunday morning and charged with fourth-degree assault and obstructing a public servant, according to the police report.
Stripling, who has started every game this season, has been suspended pending an investigation by the coaching staff, a WSU spokesperson said Monday.
Fourth-degree assault is a gross misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. Obstructing a public servant is a simple misdemeanor, which can mean a jail sentence of up to 90 days and a $1,000 fine.
James D. Bero was also arrested and charged with fourth-degree assault, according to the report.
The incident took place near the corner of Ruby and Colorado Streets on Greek Row at about 1:30 Sunday morning.
• That's all for now. We'll be back at halftime. Until then …