Unfortunately, there seem to be no WSU bloggers out there on the net, so 5 questions is out this week. Because I have only seen 1 WSU game this season, I'll have to rely on stats to tell me the story about WSU. Here is what to look for with the Cougars:
It looked as if there might be a quarterback controversy between Alex Brink and Gary Rodgers. However, Rodgers is hurt, so it'll be Brink all the way on Saturday. The Sheldon High School product has actually played fairly well, completing almost 60% of his passes for 1500 yards. However, there is added pressure on him because the Cougs haven't had much of a run game. While Brink is taking some of the flack for a lot of the offensive problems, but Iook for Brink to be amped to play his hometown Ducks. I expect Brink to play well Saturday. He just needs to do what he hasn't been able to do enough this season: put the Cougs in the end zone.
Jason Hill is the most famous of the Cougar receivers. He is a deep threat and is very good. It is still questionable how much he will play this weekend, but if he does play, he does present matchup problems for the Duck corners. Perhaps even better has been Michael Bumpus. He already has 44 catches this season and seems to be Brink's favorite target. If both receivers are playing well, it could be a long day for the Ducks. Brandon Gibson is a very good third receiver. If the Cougars are going to have an advantage against the Ducks' defense, it is going to be here. However, we have said that all season and the Ducks currently have the best passing defense in the conference (though I speculate that is because everyone runs against us).
The Cougs running game has been inconsistent this year. They have three running backs averaging about 40 yards each per game. As a team, they average 150. If the defensive line can play as well as they did vs. UCLA, then this is a non-issue. If Wazzu's offense explodes, which it hasn't done this season, then it will be in the passing game.
Personally, this is one game where I'm not terribly worried about our defense being okay.
The defense at WSU has been the real surprise. They are only giving up 324 yards and 18.6 PPG--and they have played Auburn, Cal, and USC. I believe that this is the 4th best team in the conference, but their schedule has been brutal so far. They have 28 sacks, so the matchup between their defensive line and our offensive line will be interesting. Mkristo Bruce has ten of those sacks all by himself--he is quite a handful. They are very stingy both against the run and the pass. And what is interesting is that no one stands out at you, besides Bruce. But they are very good--probably the second best we've faced this season. How will the Ducks respond to that?
Kicker Loren Langley had a very rough start, but has been good since. Their punting game is a little above average. They have a good kick return average, but so far nobody has broken one.
Some on the UO message boards are predicting a UO blowout. We should know better by now. It is never that easy in Pullman, and this Wazzu team is much better than last year. I really think that their defense is going to give us some problems. However, I also think that the talent difference is just too much to ignore. I think that Brink has a good game, but the running game lets them down. They have a really good defense, but not good enough to shut the offense down completely like Cal did. It comes down to the 4th quarter as it always does in Pullman, but the Ducks get it done (would you expect me to predict anything else?).
THE PREDICTION: UO 28, WSU 21
A touchdown in the last 5:00 breaks the tie and wins it for the Ducks!