Both Theo Lawson (WSU beat writer) and Ryan Collingwood (EWU beat writer) give their predictions on Saturday’s showdown between the Cougars and visiting Eagles at Martin Stadium in Pullman.
Theo Lawson’s pick
The FCS leader in offensive yards per game squares off against an FBS team ranked second in yards per game allowed. What happens next? For the first time this season, Eastern Washington will see a truly good defense and Washington State, along the same lines, will finally see a balanced offense. Gage Gubrud and Nsimba Webster promise to be the most talented QB-receiver tandem the Cougars have seen two games into the season. WSU’s pass-rush, certainly, is a notch or five above the ones the Eagles saw against Central Washington and Northern Arizona. So what gives? Mike Leach delivered a stern message to his offense after it stagnated in the third quarter of last week’s game against San Jose State. So, either the Cougars pick it up and outscore the Eagles or the WSU coach will order up a few-hundred up-downs during practice next week. I presume it’ll be the former.
The pick: Washington State 35, Eastern Washington 21.
Ryan Collingwood’s pick
The Cougars will have their hands full with EWU QB Gage Gubrud and the Eagles’ FCS-leading offense. But, unlike WSU’s 45-42 loss to the Cheney school in both teams’ 2016 season opener, there won’t see any surprises. This is Week 3 and WSU is now quite aware of what Gubrud can do. On paper, WSU has the edge at most positions, but this game will likely come down to if WSU quarterback Gardner Minshew has the time to find his stable of talented receivers (and behind an offensive line that hasn’t yielded a sack). If EWU’s defensive line and blitz packages can make Minshew uncomfortable, and force him into tough throws, the Eagles have a chance. But I wouldn’t bet on it.
The pick: Washington State 46, Eastern Washington 40.
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