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The pick: Why Washington State will beat Oregon

PULLMAN – ESPN’s College GameDay isn’t in town this time, but Washington State is aiming for a similarly momentous victory.

In 2018, a surging WSU team hosted a wild GameDay crowd and a favored Oregon squad. The Cougars came away with one of their most memorable wins in program history and inserted themselves into the national discussion.

Now, the Cougars (3-0) are stocked with momentum and on the verge of national recognition. They are just outside the AP Top 25 rankings. Gesa Field is sold out for Saturday’s much-anticipated matchup against the 15th-ranked Ducks. The game will be broadcast around the country on Fox. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.

The Cougars’ last win over Oregon came on that big day in 2018. Can WSU conjure up the same sort of magic?

“This is going to be just like GameDay,” WSU coach Jake Dickert said. “This can be the toughest place to play in the Pacific Northwest.

“It’s gonna be a fun environment. This is the environment we can have each and every week. That’s the impact our people can make.”

WSU’s Pac-12 opener is shaping up to be a can’t-miss occasion. The Cougars are seven-point underdogs, but they will be fueled by home-field advantage and rising ambitions coming off a sweep of their nonconference schedule.

“We have a lot of confidence in ourselves,” receiver De’Zhaun Stribling said. “We have a lot of belief in the whole team. We’re rolling and we love it.”

WSU’s defense is off to an impressive start to the season, spearheaded by one of the nation’s elite defensive fronts. Oregon’s offense features explosive potential and one of the top offensive lines in the FBS. WSU’s Air Raid offense is starting to find its rhythm. The Ducks are stout up front and still searching for consistency in their secondary.

Expect the well-matched opponents to trade blows throughout the game. But we’re giving a slight edge to the home team and predicting a dramatic finish.

The pick: Washington State 24, Oregon 23