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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Monday fast forward: Portland State

Many fans agree that in today's college football world that the "A-B-C" tiered method is the best way to handle the out of conference schedule. The idea is that a team should schedule one "A" game against a marquee opponent, preferably one it can beat but enough of a challenge to give the fans a memorable win over a respected team they rarely get to see.

The "B" team should be winnable – two losses out of conference is a pretty bad start to the season – but interesting enough to make season tickets a little more enticing. A "C" is a body bag game -- some small school gets a large down payment for its season expenses in exchange for getting butchered by a bigger school that gets to let its backups shine for one game.

While its debatable which team is the "A" and which is the "B" in Washington State's 2014 schedule – Nevada and Rutgers are honestly both B's – there is no question that Portland State is the "C."

Yes, teams like Appalachian State and Eastern Washington have beaten bigger, badder schools recently, but those schools were among the best in the FCS and had some legitimate NFL talent fall into their laps. Even then, they needed almost everything to break their way to pull off the upsets.

Sure, if the Cougars come out half asleep and completely dismissive of their opponent than the Vikings might get in the end zone a few too many times for comfort.

But don't stress, WSU will win this game.

Follow the jump for more on WSU's third opponent.

Last Season: That the Vikings play in the Big Sky Conference of the Football Championship Subdivision is enough to assure that the Cougars would be favorites any year. But PSU wasn’t even a particularly good FCS team, finishing 6-6 and just 3-5 in conference play.

Remember that Southern Utah team the Cougars beat up, 48-10?  Well it grounded the Vikings offense in a 17-7 win. Portland State also lost to Cal Poly and Montana, and gave California a scare in Berkley, falling 37-30.

Last season was an improvement from the team's 2012 campaign, however, which saw the Vikings win just three games.

(Don't worry, Cal was awful last season and it was the second game for coach Sonny Dykes and freshman quarterback Jared Goff.)

Portland State was a field goal away from an 8-4 record, however, losing its final two games by a combined two points against Sacramento State and at EWU, the latter of which made it to the FCS semifinals and went undefeated in the Big Sky.


Players to Watch:

Kieran McDonagh, QB, 6-2, 230: The junior quarterback has started for PSU since the first game of his freshman year. While not an especially prolific passer, completing just 54 percent of his passes and throwing 15 touchdowns against 11 interceptions, McDonagh is a tough runner who doesn't mind taking a hit to move the chains.

Patrick Onwuasor, S, 6-2, 225: Onwuasor's safety spot may be the one position on the team where PSU can claim to have as good or better a player than WSU. Onwuasor transferred to PSU from Arizona, where he was named the scout team Player of the Year as a redshirt, and made 36 tackles as a freshman. He has good size for the safety position and coach Nigel Burton seems very excited to see what he can do.


Defensive Line: The Vikings do have a cupboard full of BCS recruits along the defensive line so the talent level there is likely to be closer to what WSU will face in Pac-12 play than against a typical FCS team. Defensive ends Cutter Baldock and Dame Ndiaye used to be rivals at Arizona State and Arizona, respectively. Defensive tackle Junior Alexis transferred from Miami and Joe Lopez signed out of high school with Oregon State.


Running Back: The Vikings offense worked last year in large part because of running back DJ Adams' enormous talent. He rushed for a cool 1,600 yards and averaged 6.2 yards a carry on the way to 19 touchdowns. Returners Shaq Richard and Nate Tago also averaged more than six yards per carry in the PSU offense, but neither has proven yet that they'll be able to match Adams' production over a season.

Jacob Thorpe
Jacob Thorpe joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He currently is a reporter for the Sports Desk covering Washington State University athletics.

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