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First Look: Washington State at Oregon

Mon., Oct. 24, 2011, 5:59 p.m.

Time: Noon, Saturday, Autzen Stadium. TV: Root

Records: WSU (3-4, 1-3 in Pac-12); Oregon (6-1, 4-0)

Last week: WSU lost to Oregon State, 44-21.

Oregon defeated Colorado, 45-2.

Last time: Oregon defeated WSU, 43-23, in 2010

The line: Oregon by 36.5. updated

What it means for WSU

Winning may not be a viable option this week, but playing well can certainly be. After the disappointing loss to Oregon State last weekend, the Cougars need to bounce back Saturday in the toughest Pac-12 venue. Last year WSU battled the Ducks fairly even early in Pullman, but ran out of gas in the second half. Jeff Tuel threw 40 times that day, but whether he’ll be able to play this week due to a left shoulder injury is still to be determined.

What it means for Oregon

The seventh-ranked Ducks are still in the national championship picture, so anything less than their best effort could affect their future through the poll process. As many questions as WSU has concerning its health, UO has even more. Starting quarterback Darron Thomas and running back LaMichael James missed last week with injuries and their status for Saturday may not be known until game time.

Key matchup

Oregon linebacker Josh Kaddu vs. WSU tackles David Gonzales and Dan Spitz.

No matter who the quarterback is Saturday, he must be given time to throw if WSU wants to move the ball. Among conference teams, the Ducks trail only Stanford in sacks and Kaddu, the strongside linebacker, leads the way with five. The Cougars, who yielded 10 sacks in the first four games, have given up 12 in the last three. When Oregon sends Kaddu or anyone else off the edge, the Cougar tackles must push them beyond their quarterback.

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