Washington State at Oregon
Time: 7:00 p.m. Saturday, Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Ore.
TV: Fox Sports 1
Records: WSU (4-3, 2-2 in Pac-12); UO (6-0, 3-0 in Pac-12)
Last time: Oregon defeated Washington State 51-26, in Seattle (2012)
The line: Oregon by 38
What it means for WSU: The Cougars need to bounce back from their ghastly fourth quarter against Oregon State. While it will be tough to show improvement against a team that will likely play for a national championship, if the Cougars can keep it respectable in the first half then that will be an accomplishment in and of itself.
What it means for Oregon: The Ducks can’t afford any hiccups during the season if they want to challenge Alabama’s throne. No. 4 Ohio State is also undefeated and has a clear path to the final BCS Championship game. It’s likely that for Oregon this game is just another opportunity to pad its gaudy stats and showcase its breakneck offense to recruits. But there is a danger: Even letting the Cougars keep it close could be enough to drop Oregon a spot in the polls, and derail the Ducks’ national championship hopes.
Key matchup: Marcus Mariota vs. WSU’s secondary
Oregon’s quarterback is a frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy and it’s easy to see why. Halfway through the season the talented signal-caller has yet to throw an interception. What’s really scary is that he’s arguably more of a threat as a runner than as a passer. For the Cougars to have any chance to upset the Ducks they’ll need to corral Mariota and force him into some bad passes. WSU’s secondary ranks sixth nationally with 11 interceptions, so they may be up for the challenge.