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The pick: Why No. 11 Oregon will beat Washington State

EUGENE – Last week, oddsmakers were not only confident Washington State could break out of a three-game slump against Colorado, but that beating the Buffaloes would be a breeze.

Not much had come easy for the Cougars in losses to UCLA, Utah and Arizona State, but they did manage to smoke the Buffs, making the pundits look smart with a 41-10 win at rainy Martin Stadium.

Vegas is pretty good at this.

This week, the oddsmakers figure the Cougars won’t be as lucky. They like Oregon by 14. I agree with half of that prediction.

In three of the past four games between these Pac-12 North foes, Oregon has trotted out a quarterback who would probably sit third or fourth on Mike Leach’s depth chart. Last year, the Cougars got the full Justin Herbert Experience and a good Oregon team lost to a better Washington State team that jumped on the Ducks early and finished them off in the fourth quarter.

There are a thousand ways we could parse this matchup, and I think we’ve gone through at least a dozen of them in the pregame coverage this week. So I’ll keep the prediction simple: A good Washington State team will lose to a better Oregon team because the Ducks will pounce early and finish late.

Oregon’s four-game skid against WSU will end in the heart of the Willamette Valley but the Ducks won’t cruise, as the oddsmakers suggest. The Cougars have enough offensive firepower to make Mario Cristobal and his staff sweat, but this team hasn’t shown the closing touch that allowed last year’s team to win the close ones. Moral victories will be available for the visitors Saturday night, but they won’t show up in the win column.

The pick: Oregon 38, WSU 31.

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