Last Saturday against Oregon State, Washington State fans saw glimpses of the defense they hoped the Cougars had been building through the offseason, followed by glimpses of a defense they hoped had been left at Chase Field in Phoenix.
It all amounted to something that seemed predictable: a defense that’s made notable strides under first-year coordinator Jake Dickert, but one that simply hasn’t had enough time to correct and overcome its lapses from a pitiful 2019 season.
The Cougars beat the Beavers because time eventually ran out at Reser Stadium, but it’s anyone’s guess what the outcome would’ve been at the end of a fifth quarter.
Oregon State’s offense is more than functional, and the Beavers’ fourth-quarter output can’t only be chalked up to WSU’s miscues. But the Cougars didn’t show much resolve when OSU got rolling and it probably won’t take WSU’s next opponent that long to warm up.
OSU and Oregon are fairly even at running back – you can pick your poison when it comes to Jermar Jefferson and CJ Verdell – but the Ducks have the edge almost everywhere else, with more talent at quarterback, stronger bodies on the offensive line and more dynamic players at the wide receiver and tight end positions.
In the past, Oregon’s defense hasn’t been as good as it’s appeared on paper, and the Cougars have averaged 40 points against the Ducks since 2013. As I predicted last week, the game could come down to who gets the last stop, or the last score. Seven days ago, I guessed it would be the Cougars. This time, I’m going with the Ducks.
The pick: Oregon 34, WSU 31
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Cougs newsletter
Get the latest Cougs headlines delivered to your inbox as they happen.