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The pick: Why Oregon will beat Washington State

By Colton Clark The Spokesman-Review

EUGENE – On Oct. 9, perhaps inspired by Washington State’s gutty 31-24 win over Oregon State that had just concluded, I made a prediction in the Gesa Field press box.

I had a hunch – so I told whoever was listening – that the Cougars would find a way to upset either Arizona State or Oregon later this season on their way to a surprise bowl qualification.

They’d beat one and lose to the other, I figured, because back-to-back wins over heavily favored opponents felt too good to be true.

At the time.

Now, having rallied around its coolheaded interim coach and several magnetic player-leaders, this unflappable WSU team is riding a considerable swell of momentum.

Two weeks ago, the 16-point underdog Cougars made college football experts look silly when they torched Arizona State in the desert.

WSU will visit UO on Saturday as a 13.5-point underdog.

“I know there’s a confidence level that our players have going into this game,” acting boss Jake Dickert said. “They’re excited about this game and they have practiced very hard to this point. … There’s a focus on the now, and what this team can do now.”

The Cougars seem to have an edge about them.

Pulling off consecutive shockers might just be in this WSU squad’s DNA.

Do I believe it could happen, that the Cougars add another notch to a memorable – if not chaotic – season and again top an opponent favored by two touchdowns? Absolutely.

I’m not altering my press-box prediction, though. If it feels too good to be true, it probably is.

As impressive as WSU has been, the AP fifth-ranked Ducks have too much to lose, and they’re familiar with the sting of suffering an upset to derail a season in which they had designs to break into the College Football Playoff.

ASU stunned No. 6 Oregon in 2019 to spoil the Ducks’ chances of earning a CFP bid.

It’ll come down to a nervy finish, and both the Pac-12 North foes will play spirited ball, like they have something to prove. But I’ll give the Ducks the edge in a toss-up of a game, based on their dynamic running attack and an imposing defensive front that’s improved each week.

The pick: Oregon 37, Washington State 30 (OT)