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Sports >  WSU football

First look: No. 11 Oregon at Washington State

UPDATED: Mon., Nov. 9, 2020

Oregon’s Tyler Shough, right, evades Stanford’s Thomas Schaffer, center, on a quarterback keeper Saturday in Eugene.  (Associated Press)
Oregon’s Tyler Shough, right, evades Stanford’s Thomas Schaffer, center, on a quarterback keeper Saturday in Eugene. (Associated Press)

What is it? Washington State (1-0) hosts 11th-ranked Oregon (1-0) for the first home game of the Nick Rolovich era.

Where is it? Martin Stadium.

When is it? Kickoff is 4 p.m. Saturday.

Where can I watch it? Fox will carry the broadcast.

Who is favored? The Ducks are currently seven-point favorites.

How did they fare last week? Oregon beat Stanford comfortably, 35-14, in its season opener at Autzen Stadium. About 45 miles away, Washington State defeated Oregon State 38-28 in the opener at Reser Stadium.

Why Oregon will win: While the Cougars have made it a priority to shore up their run defense, it’s still a work in progress. Oregon State’s Jermar Jefferson rushed for 121 yards and three touchdowns with an average of 5.7 yards per carry last Saturday, and the Ducks boast a run game that’s even more potent than their in-state rivals. Oregon had three players that rushed for at least 78 yards in a dominant win over Stanford and one of those was quarterback Tyler Shough, who demonstrated his mobility with 11 carries for 85 yards and one touchdown. The Cougars will be more concerned about running back CJ Verdell, who had 20 carries for 105 yards and gashed WSU for 257 rushing yards, more than 300 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns a year ago.

Why WSU will win: Even though Oregon seems to have a fairly overwhelming edge in talent, with top-15 recruiting classes in 2018, 2019 and 2020, it hasn’t translated to lopsided results on the field. Since 2014, the Cougars have four wins over the Ducks and their two losses came by a combined nine points. Pound for pound, Oregon’s best player is probably edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux. That was also the case for Oregon State with Hamilcar Rashed Jr., but the Cougars’ veteran offensive line mostly erased the outside linebacker in Corvallis. If it can do the same with Thibodeaux, WSU’s offense has an opportunity to be productive against the country’s 11th-ranked team.

What happened last time: Trying to extend a four-game win streak over the Ducks, the Cougars went up 35-34 on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Gordon to Brandon Arconado with exactly a minute left. The Ducks quacked last, though, as Mykael Wright returned the ensuing kickoff 36 yards and four consecutive pass completions from quarterback Justin Herbert put the home team in field goal range. That set up Camden Lewis for a 26-yard field goal at the buzzer to secure a 37-35 win for an Oregon team that went on to win the Pac-12 championship and beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.

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