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Oregon Ducks vs. Washington State: Points? We got points.

Another year, another Oregon offense, and this game may break the scoring record. Alas, we'll have to settle for simply a lot.

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Back on the winning track, Oregon once again gears up for an opponent that, simply put, has the ability to rip the hearts out the program.

Sound dramatic? Yes. Is it possible? You bet.

Because the narrative, if Washington State were to come out of Autzen with a win on Saturday, would be that Oregon, just one year removed from playing for a national championship, lost at home to a team that, just five weeks earlier, lost to an FCS school.

And we all know how narratives go.

The real reason Oregon could be in trouble, though, is that the WSU team that is coming in - the one that pulled the definitive Couging it - is not the same team they were when they succumb to the mighty Vikings of Portland State.

This team went toe-to-toe with California last weekend; they possess the most prolific passing attack in the country; and after last season's narrow loss to a much better Oregon team, they know they can win.

Things are different ‘round here. These Cougs can, and will, bite.

When Oregon was trailing Stanford by three touchdowns, at home, in 2010, then-head coach Chip Kelly said he told the team, "The first thing you do when you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging." Last week, Oregon threw the shovel away. Two losses in three weeks had a large proportion of the fan base on Whisky patrol, scouring the city for a drop to ease the pain.

They went into Colorado, with everything - momentum, weather, elevators - against them. And they won. It wasn't the most significant win in program history, but it may have been the most important for this coaching staff.

Things were unraveling, and heads were on the verge of being called for. But the win in the Rocky's quieted those voices, if only for a moment.

Now, Mike Leach and Co. are looking to raise them once more.

Here's three things to watch for.

  1. The defensive line's ability to read screens. If last week's game is an indicator of what the defensive line is capable of, Oregon should be in a good place going forward. The front four (or three) was in the Colorado backfield all game long, especially Deforest Buckner. The senior is having an all-American season, and it appears he has finally brought his friends to the party. Now, with Washington State in the house, the game plan becomes much different. Because Leach's system is so pass oriented, the natural tendency is to pin your ears back and try to put the QB on his rear-end all game long. But that's what they want.

    What makes the ‘Air-Raid' so hard to defend, is that unlike other pass-0heavy teams, Leach doesn't run the ball in a traditional sense, to keep the defense honest. He relies on screens and quick tosses to the running backs as his running plays, hoping to catch a hard-charging line out of place. If Oregon wants to stop the Cougars, they need to be able to pressure, sure; but it can't be at the expanse of getting burned, repeatedly, with screens.

  2. Flashback to California, 2010. Lots of references to the 2010 team here, but, hey...from a style standpoint, that's where we're at. That team found themselves in a dog-fight at Cal. Needing to simply possess the ball in order to escape with a win, they went on a 9 ½ minute drive, bleeding the clock dry, in one of the more impressive displays we've seen. It was so anti-Oregon, that it is already looked upon as The Drive.

    This Oregon team - whether they're captained by Jeff Lockie, Taylor Alie or Vernon Adams - is not going to beat teams chucking the ball all over the place. Just like the 2010 team, who had a quarterback capable of scrambling, but not overly fast, and had an OK arm, but not great, this team must run the ball first, in order to have any success. This week in particular, when the Ducks' secondary will be running all over the field, it's imperative that Oregon piece together sustained, play-piling drives. They don't need to have the ball for 40 minutes - but if touchdown drives came in five minutes instead of two, that would benefit everyone. The defense gets to rest, and at last check, the WSU offense is not allowed to score points while Oregon's offense is in the game (although, I wouldn't put it past Leach to challenge that theory).

  3. Devon Allen, where art thou? One breath after talking about the running game's importance, I bring up a receiver. Why? Because you still have to have some threat of a passing game, no matter how pedestrian the other team's defensive line is. That's where Devon Allen comes in. Allen, who is just rounding into form from his knee injury, offers the straight-line deep threat that ca open up those precious running lanes Oregon will need. All they to do is connect on one - ONE ­- deep ball to Allen, and the entire playbook will open up.

    Late in last week's game, we saw the type of ball Taylor Alie can throw - his 43-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Brown, while scrambling, is a great indicator of his arm talent. Allen did it last year at Wazzu, in what was his best game as a Duck. This wouldn't be a bad week for that guy to show up again.


    Oy, vey. Predicting the score of a Wazzu game is almost impossible. They can score in the teens against an FCS school, or put up 60. Literally nothing about this game can be penciled in as a sure thing - except that Oregon absolutely has to bring their A game, defensively, or they're looking at major trouble.

    (peering through his fingers, he types) Oregon 45, WSU 42.

    Game ball: Aiden Schneider. Book it.