THE TEAMS: Oregon enters the game riding a six game winning streak after thrashing Colorado last weekend. Washington State is reeling, getting blown out by Oregon State in Seattle over the weekend in what is quickly becoming another lost season on the Palouse. Of note is that Washington State suprisingly gave Oregon a game on the Palouse last season, showing it can be done.
THE INJURIES: The big questions for Oregon are whether LaMichael James and Darron Thomas will return from injury, and I would say both are fairly likely to do so. Other injury questions for Oregon revolve around backup TE Colt Lyerla, who didn't travel to Boulder with an unspecified injury.
For Washington State, the main injury issue is again QB Jeff Tuel, who reaggrivated his collarbone and came out of the Oregon State loss. There is a lot of thought that Marshall Lobbestael will be seeing the field at Autzen this weekend.
THE COACHES: A once promising season has gone downhill for Washington State, and after Cougin' it against San Diego State and UCLA, the Cougars were flat out bad against the Beavers. Coach Paul Wulff, who has been on the hot seat this season, probably won't survive barring a major miracle.
KEY PLAYERS FOR WASHINGTON STATE:
QB Marshall Lobbestael: Lobbestael won three games and put up big numbers filling in for Tuel at the begining of the season. But his inability to get the ball in the endzone and keep his composure under pressure hurt WSU big in the SDSU and UCLA games. Can he handle Autzen?
WR Marquess Wilson: The Cougars' biggest playmaker will have to have a huge game for the heavy underdog to have any shot.
LB Alex Hoffman-Ellis: Washington State's best defensive player is going to have to lead that unit in what will be their biggest challenge of the season. They held Stanford for a half before the wheels came off.
KEY PLAYERS FOR OREGON:
RB LaMichael James: I think its assumed at this point that James will be back for this game. Look for him to settle his way back in in advance of the Washington-Stanford-USC stretch.
QB Darron Thomas: See above.
CB/PR Cliff Harris: It will be interesting to see how Harris is used in this game after two boneheaded mistakes against Colorado (the pregame penalty and the punt return). Oregon needs a good Harris for the Washington and, especially, Stanford games.