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The pick: Why Washington State will beat Oregon

UPDATED: Fri., Oct. 6, 2017, 11:26 p.m.

Washington State running back James Williams runs the ball against Oregon on Oct. 1, 2016, at Martin Stadium in Pullman. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Washington State running back James Williams runs the ball against Oregon on Oct. 1, 2016, at Martin Stadium in Pullman. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

EUGENE, Ore. – Now for your staggering Air Raid statistic of the day: in two outings at Oregon’s Autzen Stadium, Mike Leach quarterbacks have done nothing but throw the cover off the football. Leach’s offense finds new extremes each time it visits the Willamette Valley and … oh right, you wanted the stat.

In the two games at Oregon, Leach’s signal-callers have aired it out 163 times, completing 108 passes for 1,062 yards and nine touchdowns. (And four interceptions, sorry Connor). Luke Falk was 50-for-75 with 505 yards and five TDs during the OT game in 2015 and two years earlier, Connor Halliday completed 58-of-89 passes for 575 yards and four touchdowns, to go with the four picks. The 89 pass attempts broke an NCAA record – well, of course they did.

No matter who Willie Taggart throws out there to play QB for the Ducks, he won’t have nearly as many pass completions inside Autzen Stadium as the guy taking snaps for the Cougars. Falk’s connected 50 times in Eugene. Taylor Alie and Braxton Burmeister? Just 18.

Now, I’m aware of Royce Freeman’s existence. I know the Ducks have a stable of talented backs that also includes Kani Benoit and Tony Brooks-James. I know Autzen Stadium roars louder than any other venue in the Pac-12 – and I know it’ll roar louder than usual with the nation’s 11th-ranked team in town.

But you need superb quarterback play to beat the Cougars and if Sam Darnold can’t get it done, I’m not sure Alie, a career backup, or Burmeister, a true freshman, will either.

The pick: Washington State 35, Oregon 27.


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