Oregon State at Washington State
Time: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Martin Stadium, Pullman
Records: WSU (4-2, 2-1 in Pac-12); OSU (4-1, 2-0 in Pac-12)
Last time: Oregon State defeated Washington State 19-6, in 2012
The line: WSU by 1
What it means for WSU: It feels like this could be the year for the Cougars after a 44-22 road win against Cal. WSU has already shown that it can take care of business against a bad Pac-12 team, now it needs to prove it can do it against a mid-tier conference opponent. If the Cougars are going to finally cross the barrier and become a bowl team then this is a game they need to win. While WSU is much improved, the Pac-12 will be especially difficult to navigate this season.
What it means for OSU: The Beavers have narrowly avoided college football bankruptcy after an embarrassing home loss to Eastern Washington in their season-opener. Even though OSU has won its four games since that catastrophe, only Utah of the teams the Beavers have beaten has a winning record. And the Utes are 0-2 in conference play. The bottom line is that the Beavers desperately need to win these types of games before facing the conference heavyweights.
Key matchup: Sean Mannion vs. WSU’s secondary
While OSU starting quarterback Mannion is having an unreal season – he leads the conference in passing yards despite a bye last weekend – the junior has struggled against the Cougars defense. Last season Mannion threw three interceptions against the Cougars, who lead the conference with nine interceptions in 2013. If WSU can match defensive coordinator Mike Breske’s stated goal of three takeaways the Cougars will have an excellent chance to beat the Beavers.