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

Don’t take your eyes off …

Tackling sprees like this are nothing new to Peyton Pelluer, but the sixth-year Washington State linebacker has an opportunity to do something he’s never done in his half-decade plus with the Cougars: record double-digit tackles in three consecutive games. Pelluer notched 12 takedowns, two tackles for loss and one sack when the Cougars lost at USC two weeks ago, then followed that up with 13 tackles, 1 1/2 tackles for loss and another sack in a 28-24 win over Utah last Saturday at Martin Stadium. The Cougars’ “Mike” linebacker will have plenty of chances on Saturday against OSU rushers that like to run between tackles and attack the middle of the field.

When Washington State has the ball …

WSU coaches have acknowledged the opportunity they’ll have to run the ball against an OSU team that’s one of three in the FBS conceding more than 300 rushing yards per game. The Cougars have fewer rushing attempts than every other team in college football. Primary tailbacks James Williams and Max Borghi have 308 combined rushing yards on the season, 4 more than the Beavers are allowing per game. The Cougars have found some success scoring on the ground this season, however, and WSU’s 10 rushing touchdowns rank 45th in the NCAA. Ideally, the Cougars will get sophomore receiver Tay Martin more involved in the passing game. The Louisiana native is still second in the the conference in receptions (32), but in the past two games he’s had eight catches for 31 yards.

When Oregon State has the ball …

Injuries have shelved a number of OSU’s top offensive playmakers this season and it’s unclear which of them, if any, will be back for Saturday’s game. Will the Cougars see quarterback Jake Luton? What about running back Artavis Pierce? Or wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins? Of that group, it seems like Pierce, who was upgraded to “probable” earlier this week by coach Jonathan Smith, is most likely to return. What it means for the Beavers is still to be determined. Pierce was the Beavers’ No. 1 tailback coming out of fall camp, then rushed for 259 yards and three touchdowns in the first two games. He averages 11.8 yards per carry and is a threat any time he touches the football. But so is Jermar Jefferson, a true freshman who has carried the torch for OSU’s ground game since Pierce went down and leads the Pac-12 with 727 rushing yards.

Did you know?

Gardner Minshew won’t have an opportunity to threaten any of the Pac-12’s career passing records, but the WSU quarterback is on track to take down the conference’s single-season yards record held by former Cal and current Los Angeles Rams starter Jared Goff. In 2015, Goff surpassed ex-OSU QB and current Rams backup Sean Mannion when he threw for 4,780 yards as a senior. Minshew is on pace to beat that record in 12 games, and the Cougars will likely play 13 with a December bowl game. Through five games of the 2015 season, Goff had thrown for 1,630 yards. Through the first five games of 2018, Minshew is already up to 1,992.