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First look: Oregon State at WSU

Tue., Nov. 17, 2009, midnight

Time: 2 p.m. Saturday. TV: None

Site: Martin Stadium, Pullman

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 on 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.

– Vince Grippi

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