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Two-minute drill: Keys to victory for Washington State against Oregon

UPDATED: Fri., Oct. 6, 2017, 10:42 p.m.

Oregon’s Royce Freeman (21) will be gunning for his third straight 100-yard game against WSU. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Oregon’s Royce Freeman (21) will be gunning for his third straight 100-yard game against WSU. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Don’t take your eyes off

The Oregon quarterback, whoever that happens to be. We know this much: it won’t be Justin Herbert, the sophomore stud who broke his collarbone in a 30-20 win over Cal last weekend and will require four to six weeks of recovery before he can return to the field. That leaves the Ducks with two choices: a true freshman, Braxton Burmeister, or a fifth-year senior who began his career as a walk-on, Taylor Alie. The Ducks haven’t hinted at who’ll take the first snaps on Saturday. Alie has the experience with 21 career completions, one touchdown and one interception, but Burmeister has the athleticism. The La Jolla, California, product rushed for 1,470 yards as a high school senior and was rated the seventh-best dual threat QB in the country by Rivals.com.

When WSU has the ball…

Luke Falk is aiming for more Pac-12 history – of course – but the Oregon fans could take it personal if the Washington State quarterback flings his 106th career touchdown pass on Saturday night. Falk matched former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota in that category during the Cougars’ game against USC and the senior could take sole possession of No. 2 by throwing just one TD in Eugene, where Mariota is still a beloved character. It looks promising for Falk. The Wazzu signal-caller has played the Ducks just twice, but he’s thrown for six touchdowns in those games and five of them came during his debut at Autzen Stadium – a 45-38 overtime win for the Cougars. Falk is dealing with pinpoint accuracy this season and has completed 75 percent of his passes while throwing 16 TDs.

When Oregon has the ball…

The Cougars had to be sound tacklers last week with USC’s Ronald Jones, but Oregon’s Royce Freeman is even more of a locomotive and if healthy, the senior will be gunning for his third straight 100-yard game against WSU. As a freshman, the Oregon tailback rushed for 75 yards in his first game versus the Cougars, but for his sophomore encore, Freeman rushed for 246 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns. He wasn’t able to replicate those numbers as a junior, but did more than enough to make it hurt, rushing 19 times for 158 yards and three touchdowns against the Cougars in Martin Stadium. That gives him 479 yards on 66 carries – or 7.3 yards per touch – and three touchdowns in three games against WSU.

Did you know?

Washington State has started a season 6-0 on six different occasions – in 1906, 1915, 1930, 1992, 1997 and 2001 – but if the Cougars beat the Ducks tomorrrow, Oct. 7 would be the earliest in the calendar year they’ve done it. They did it by Oct. 17 in 1992 and by Oct. 18 in 1997 and 2001.


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