1 Put the Oregon State game to bed. All week long the players and coaches have insisted there is no hangover from the brutal fourth-quarter loss against the Beavers. But the last time we saw the Cougars they were giving up 35 straight points to let a tight game turn into a laugher. There’s no way to tell how they’ll respond.
2 Ignore the crowd. This will be the most hostile environment the Cougars have faced this year, and if they get rattled then this game will be over early. Granted, WSU has played at Auburn this year, but by all accounts the crowd was in a “wait-and-see” mindset in the first game after the Tigers’ three-win season last year. While there were plenty of boos in the USC game, most were reportedly for since-fired Trojans coach Lane Kiffin. Autzen Stadium will be rocking today, and the young WSU team will have to shut out the sound.
3 Take care of the football. The WSU defense has done an admirable job of collecting takeaways this season, but it hasn’t given the Cougars much of an edge thanks to the offense’s penchant for the giveaway. Imagine if they played each other. Oregon turns turnovers into touchdowns faster than they come up with new uniform combinations.
4 Pray. Oregon isn’t the second-ranked team in the country because of its flashy uniforms. The UO program right now is every bit the machine that USC was in the mid-2000s and cast aside a conga line of would-be challengers. The Cougars could play a great game worthy of the third or fourth best team in the conference and still lose by three touchdowns. To win they’ll need a little help.