Oregon has already faced three of the top 20 schools in passing yards per game: Arizona, Arizona State, and surprisingly, Cal. The Duck defense will take on another in the Washington State Cougars, who average 313 passing yards per game. After losing starting QB Jeff Tuel to a broken collarbone, backup Marshall Lobbestael has filled in admirably, completing 64% of his passes with a 15-5 touchdown to interception rate. And his 8.2 yards/attempt ranks 24th in the nation, the same as Darron Thomas. This, from a quarterback who has never had a completion percentage higher than 52%, or a yards/attempt higher than six. Is he overachieving, or has Lobbestael made a leap in his senior season? Statistic of note: Washington State has faced exactly one team that ranks in the top 80 in pass defense.
Lobbestael will look to three main targets in the passing game, the most notable being Marquess Wilson, he of the 41 catches for 736 yards. He's 6'4" and real fast. That wouldn't be a problem if we had an elite cover corner on our team. Instead, it'll be up to the law office of Gildon, Mitchell, and Hill to shut down one of the best receivers in the Pac-12. In addition to Wilson, Isaiah Barton and Jared Karsttetter have combined for 68 catches on the season.
Washington State's offense ranks 91st in the country in rushing, and when you take out the 289 yards put up against FCS Idaho State, they are averaging only 92 yards per game on the ground. I feel silly talking about it, since it won't make a damn difference on Saturday. Rickey Galvin and Carl Winston run the ball for the Cougars. Now you know.
As well as WSU's passing attack has been this season, their pass blocking has given up 22 sacks on the season, averaging over 3/game. Oregon's pass rush has come on strong, with 11 sacks in the last three games. Oregon's linebackers are healthy and playing well, and if the Ducks' front seven can get pressure on Lobbestael, it's gonna be a long day for the Cougs. If the Cougar offensive line can hold up, Lobbestael and the passing game can make this game competitive.
Marshall Lobbestael: 26-42, 278 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT (Troy Hill)
Amount of whisky I consume during the game: 5 oz.