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Sports >  WSU football

First look: Oregon State at Washington State

Oregon State wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins (17) runs for a first down in front of Arizona safety Scottie Young Jr. in the first half during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in Tucson, Ariz. (Rick Scuteri / AP)
Oregon State wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins (17) runs for a first down in front of Arizona safety Scottie Young Jr. in the first half during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in Tucson, Ariz. (Rick Scuteri / AP)

What is it? Both needing one more win to reach postseason eligibility, Washington State (5-5, 2-5) hosts Oregon State (5-5, 4-3) in its final home game of the 2019 season.

Where is it? Martin Stadium in Pullman.

When is it? Kickoff is 6 p.m. Saturday.

Where can I watch it? The game will air on Pac-12 Networks.

Who is favored? The Cougars opened as 15-point favorites, but the line has since dropped to 12½.

How did they fare last week? Oregon State squeezed out a 35-34 win over Arizona State at Reser Stadium. Washington State thumped Stanford 49-22, extending its win streak over the Cardinal to four games.

Why OSU will win: Jonathan Smith’s offense has had scattered results against the league’s top defenses and the Beavers scored just 35 combined points against Utah, Cal and Washington. But OSU’s been much more successful against opposing defenses that compare better to WSU’s. The Beavers scored 139 combined points against UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State. While the Cougars are coming off one of their top defensive efforts in Pac-12 play this year, they also faced a Stanford team that logged just 10 rushing attempts – 15 fewer than the next lowest by a WSU opponent this season (NMSU, 25). The Beavers average 34.3 rush attempts per game – something that could be problematic for a WSU team allowing 174.9 rushing yards per game. OSU is also capable of moving it the air with former Idaho quarterback Jake Luton, who has one of the league’s top touchdown-to-interception ratios at 23-2 and receiver Isaiah Hodgins, who’s leading the conference in TD receptions (13). And strangely, the Beavers have been better on the road than at home, going 3-0 outside of Reser Stadium during Pac-12 play and 1-3 in Corvallis.

Why WSU will win: The only team giving up more rushing yards than the Cougars is the Beavers, who allow 180.8 per game. So, sophomore running back Max Borghi, who already has more 100-yard games than any player since Jerome Harrison, could be on track for his fifth this season. Not that Mike Leach has ever had trouble throwing the ball against OSU. Over the last five years, Luke Falk and Gardner Minshew have combined to complete 183-of-246 passes (74 percent) for 2,119 yards, 27 touchdowns and two interceptions in games against the Beavers and the Cougars. Of course, WSU has won all five of those, scoring 45.6 on average and winning by an average margin of 15.8 points. Additionally, the Cougars’ offense has generated 270 points in five home games this year and hasn’t scored fewer than 40 in a game.

What happened last time: For the second time in as many years, the Cougars hung more than 50 points on the Beavers and led by as many as 26 points while walking away from Reser Stadium with a 56-37 victory. Gardner Minshew went 30-of-40 for 430 yards and hit four different receivers for five touchdowns. Tay Martin reeled in two of the five and had his most productive game of the year, catching eight passes for 119 yards. Max Borghi rushed six times for 43 yards and punched in two more WSU touchdowns. Playing without starting quarterback Jake Luton and top receiver Isaiah Hodgins, OSU resorted to the run game and tallied 50 carries for 276 yards and five touchdowns. Four of those came from talented true freshman Jermar Jefferson, who burned the Cougars for 138 yards on 25 carries. But after leading only 28-24 at haltime, WSU opened it up in the second half and outscored OSU 28-14.

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