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The pick: Why Washington State will (barely) beat Wyoming

LARAMIE – It could’ve been New Mexico State, Southern New Mexico Junior College or the NMSU chapter of Sigma Chi standing on the opposite sideline last Saturday and I may have still come away impressed with Wyoming’s dominant defensive showing in Las Cruces. OK, maybe not the frat guys, but the point still stands. Conceding 20 yards of offense and one first down in the first half, the Cowboys barely let the Aggies sniff the 50-yard line – and not until Wyoming inserted the second-stringers could the hosts get on the scoreboard.

As long as they can resemble their week-one selves, the Cowboys will certainly present Washington State with one of the toughest defensive challenges the Cougars will see all season. It’s hard to imagine Wyoming’s D wouldn’t rank top-five in the Pac-12 this year.

But the Cougars aren’t untalented on defense, either, even if that defensive line leaves something – OK, a lot – to be desired. The linebackers should be better this year. The secondary improves, too. And if Nnamdi Oguayo can give the Cougars a few snaps in Laramie, the defensive front will be about twice as good as it is now.

Let’s say the defenses cancel one other out. Wyoming could be better on the offensive line, but the Cougars have the more experienced at quarterback, are vastly more talented at wide receiver and probably have the slight edge at running back, too. The offense should be enough to pull the Cougars through a closely-contested opener. Emphasis on “should.”

The pick: Washington State 24, Wyoming 21

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Sports >  WSU football

USA Today tabs Washington State right tackle Abraham Lucas as Freshman All-American

UPDATED: 6:30 p.m.

Lucas started all 12 games on WSU’s offensive line during the regular season and helped the Cougars reduce their sacks total from 44 in 2017 to just 11 in 2018. The Everett native and Archbishop Murray product anchored the right side of an offensive line that was named a semifinalist for the Joe Moore Award – given to the nation’s top O-line – and he was integral in WSU’s FBS-leading passing totals.