Time: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Martin Stadium
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Records: WSU (2-1, 1-0 in Pac-12); Idaho (0-3)
Last time: WSU defeated Idaho in Pullman, 45-28, in 2007
The line: WSU by 31
What it means for WSU: Another chance to continue improving, and a pretty easy opportunity to improve its record to 3-1 before an important showdown against Stanford next week. The Vandals likely don’t have the depth or athleticism necessary to compete with the Cougars for four quarters, so this is a game WSU should win comfortably. The Cougars showed last week against Southern Utah that they are capable of blowing away weaker opponents, something they struggled with last season. This would be another step toward proving their proficiency in that regard.
What it means for Idaho: The Vandals have lost nine consecutive games dating to last season, but were surprisingly competitive against MAC favorite Northern Illinois last week in Moscow, losing 45-35 after a pretty impressive first half. If they continue the progress they showed in terms of adapting to coach Paul Petrino’s offense, they could give WSU enough trouble to keep things interesting for a while. But mostly, this game will serve as a barometer of how far Idaho must come to compete against a Pac-12 team.
Key matchup: Idaho’s offensive line vs. WSU’s defensive line
The Vandals allowed nine sacks to Northern Illinois on Saturday, one of the reasons they fell short of pulling off the upset. The Cougars have been using a lot of 3-man rushes in their past two games, with the focus first on stopping the run before worrying about the pass. But if WSU can bother Idaho quarterback Chad Chalich and force a few turnovers, the Cougars can really make things frustrating from the get-go. That would help quash any thoughts of an upset.