First look: Oregon at WSU
Time: 2 p.m. Saturday, Martin Stadium, Pullman
Records: WSU (1-4, 0-2 in Pac-10); Oregon (5-0, 2-0)
Last week: Washington State lost at UCLA, 42-28; Oregon defeated Stanford, 51-31
Last time: Oregon defeated WSU, 52-6, in Eugene in 2009
The line: Oregon by 34.5
What it means for WSU: The month from hell begins Saturday with the Ducks’ homecoming appearance. After this one, No. 9 Arizona visits, followed by trips to No. 16 Stanford and Arizona State. The offense has come alive since the Cougars went exclusive to a no-huddle, spread attack, but such a course could put Jeff Tuel under the gun against Oregon’s attacking defense. And the Cougars defense, 118th in the nation, must figure out a way to at least slow the Ducks offense, tops in the country, averaging 56.6 points a game.
What it means for Oregon: Really, not all that much. Unless, of course, the Ducks play uninspired and let Washington State hang around. Then their No. 3 national ranking could be in jeopardy. Oregon is in the middle of the national title picture after blowing out then-ninth-ranked Stanford in the second half last week, but any hope of playing in the championship game would be gone with a monumental upset or dealt a fatal blow if they don’t win convincingly.
Key matchup: LaMicheal James vs. Tyree Toomer.
Oregon’s sophomore running back is second in the nation, averaging 178 yards per game after gashing Stanford’s rush defense, which went into the game 34th in the nation. The Cardinal are now 84th after James’ 257 yards on 31 carries, just part of a running attack that zipped for 388 yards. Included was James’ 76-yard scoring run right up the middle. Toomer, a sophomore free safety, is a key element in a WSU run defense that is yielding 255 yards per game on the ground, better than only three other FBS schools. He and his mates must continue to improve their tackling and do what ever they can to contain James and the Oregon attack.