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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Southern Utah at WSU

Time: 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Martin Stadium

TV: Pac-12 Networks

Records: WSU (1-1, 1-0 in Pac-12); Southern Utah (2-0, 0-0 in Big Sky)

Last time: This is the first meeting between the schools

The line: No line

What it means for WSU: This is one of two games on the Cougars’ schedule that most have penciled in as a sure thing – though their win over USC last week certainly lends credence to the thought they could win a few others, too. WSU will try to avoid becoming a cautionary tale against a Southern Utah team that already beat an FBS foe, South Alabama, in its season opener. And the Cougars will also try to get their offense going a bit after failing to score an offensive touchdown in last week’s 10-7 grinder against the Trojans.

What it means for Southern Utah: Competing with a Pac-12 team won’t be foreign territory for the Thunderbirds, who had a legitimate chance to beat California in Berkeley last season before allowing 30 points in the fourth quarter to lose 50-31. This is a point WSU coach Mike Leach has mentioned no fewer than three times in the last two days when speaking with reporters, saying Monday that “Southern Utah should have beaten Cal, at Cal. And we certainly don’t need to forget that.” Playing at WSU gives SUU another chance to show that like Eastern Washington earlier this season, it, too is capable of beating a Pac-12 team.

Key matchup: Aaron Cantu vs. WSU’s pass rush

The Southern Utah quarterback has been fairly consistent through two games, completing 70 percent of his passes, including five touchdowns without an interception. The Cougars’ pass rush seems to be building off its No. 11 national ranking in sacks a year ago, and they’ve done much of it without blitzing all that often – a three-man rush was often enough to hit the quarterback last week against USC. If they can push the Thunderbirds around in a similar fashion, the visiting team will likely have trouble getting much going offensively.

Christian Caple

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

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