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Saturday, August 8, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Two-minute drill: Keys to victory for Washington State against Oregon State

Oregon State running back Ryan Nall, front, looks for an opening as Colorado State defensive lineman Jakob Buys comes in for a stop in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, in Fort Collins, Colo. Nall rushed for 131 yards against Washington State last season. (David Zalubowski / Associated Press)
Oregon State running back Ryan Nall, front, looks for an opening as Colorado State defensive lineman Jakob Buys comes in for a stop in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, in Fort Collins, Colo. Nall rushed for 131 yards against Washington State last season. (David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

Don’t take your eyes off

The quarterbacks. Both Luke Falk (WSU) and Jake Luton (OSU) were under-recruited coming out of high school but have emerged as the clear starters for their respective teams. Falk did it a few years earlier than Luton, but the Beavers’ signal-caller who started his career at Idaho before transferring to Ventura Community College and then OSU might have the arm talent to match up with any quarterback in the conference. Falk is coming off one of his least productive games and Luton is returning to the Palouse for the first time in a year, so the Pac-12 opener is meaningful for both players.

When WSU has the ball…

The Cougars would like to dip into their deep pool of running backs as much as possible, but the offensive line needs to make some drastic improvements before that happens. So does James Williams. He and the O-line both drew Mike Leach’s ire during Monday’s press conference. Luckily for Williams and his blockers, the Oregon State defense ranks No. 127 out of 130 in the FBS in total rushing yards allowed. The Beavers allow 245 rushing yards per game and their opponents have scored 11 rushing touchdowns this season, which amounts to 3.6 per game. That won’t get them very far in the Pac-12.

When OSU has the ball…

Beavers running back Ryan Nall caused much wreckage in this game last year. The OSU junior isn’t the fastest cat, but he might be the conference’s top bulldozer and damaged the Cougars for 131 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns last season, although WSU made a huge comeback to defeat the Beavers. Nall rushed for 115 yards on 15 carries in the season opener against Colorado State, but hasn’t hit the century mark since. He had just seven carries last week against Minnesota, which means either he isn’t as much a part of the Beavers’ plans this season, or coach Gary Andersen wanted to preserve his energy for a more meaningful game in Pullman.

Did you know?

Falk is averaging better than 430 yards per game against Oregon State in his career and has never lost to the Beavers. The WSU senior made his first college start in Corvallis during the 2014 season. He was 44 for 61 with 475 yards and five touchdowns in that game. In 2015, he was 39 for 60 with 407 yards and six touchdowns. In 2016, he was 33 for 46 for 415 yards and five touchdowns. That adds up to 121 completions on 157 attempts, 1,293 yards and a whopping 16 touchdowns.

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