Coming off back-to-back losses for the first time since 2007, Oregon looks to open the new month with a much-needed win against Pac-12 opponent, Washington State. Kickoff from Martin Stadium is set for 6:40 p.m. PT.
Here’s everything you need to know about tonight’s football action:
Week 5 — Oregon Ducks (2-2, 0-1 Pac-12) @ Washington State Cougars (1-2, 0-0 Pac-12)
Date: Saturday, October 1, 2016
Time: 6:40 p.m. PT
Place: Martin Stadium (Pullman, Wash.)
TV: Pac-12 Network
Radio: 590AM (Eugene); 750AM/102.9FM (Portland)
Online Radio: Oregon IMG Sports Network
Follow Along: Live Stats; @AddictedToQuack
Odds: Oregon (-2.5)
Kickoff Weather: Partly cloudy, high 50s
Wheels down and ready. Pullman-bound. #GoDucks pic.twitter.com/BP8KnlTzOF— GoDucks (@GoDucks) October 1, 2016
At A Glance
Oregon Ducks (2-2, 0-1 Pac-12) — After dropping consecutive games at Nebraska and versus Colorado, the Ducks held a players-only meeting on Monday. The schedule gets considerably harder after today, so now would be a good time for a confidence-booster... Oregon will likely look to beat WSU on the ground, as the Ducks pace the Pac-12 in rushing offense with 275.8 yards per game... Running back Royce Freeman is expected to make a return after suffering a leg injury two weeks ago at Nebraska. The Heisman hopeful is third in the conference with 108.3 rushing yards per game, only behind Arizona’s Brandon Dawkins (130.3) and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey (121.2).
Washington State Cougars (1-2, 0-0 Pac-12) — The Cougars had a bye week to prepare for the Ducks, so they’ll be extra rested for today’s contest... Washington State got off to a troubling start, dropping close contests versus Eastern Washington and at Boise State, but looks to stay on track after most recently blowing out Idaho on Sept. 17, 56-6... Mike Leach (fifth season) has instilled an Air Raid offense that has been effective for the Cougars. QB Luke Falk leads the FBS in passing yards per game with 359.5. On the receiving end, Gabe Marks holds a WSU record for career receptions with 254, which is also the fourth-most in Pac-12 history. Meanwhile, fellow wide receiver River Cracraft has made a catch in 32 consecutive games, the ninth-longest active streak in the country... The Cougars beat the Ducks through the air last season (505 passing yards for five TDs in their 45-38, double-overtime win), so Oregon should be extra mindful in defending big plays.
The Series — Oregon leads the series 47-39-7, including a 25-19-2 advantage in Pullman... Looking back at the last two seasons, the Ducks won 38-31 in 2014, behind a near-perfect performance from Marcus Mariota. The future Heisman Trophy winner completed 21 of 25 passes for 329 yards and five TDs to pull out the dub in Pullman. Last year in Eugene, the Cougars defeated the Ducks in double-overtime, despite running back Royce Freeman rushing for a career-best 246 yards and two TDs.
Milestone Watch — Royce Freeman needs two rushing TDs to move into a tie for second on Oregon’s career list and 98 rushing yards to move into second on the career rushing list... Kicker Aidan Schneider needs one more field goal to move into third in career FGs at Oregon.
In Their Words
Below, you’ll find interviews from Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich and starting quarterback Dakota Prukop, as well as a preview from Andy McNamara and Rob Mosley of GoDucks.com.
“They’re so ingrained and entrenched in what they do,” coach Mark Helfrich said of the Cougars. “Coach (Mike) Leach has done it so long in so many facets. The beauty is its simplicity, but it looks very complicated. It comes back to a very base set of plays that they are excellent at, and (QB Luke Falk) is a fantastic player. He has all those guys, whether it’s (WR Gabe Marks) or (WR River Cracraft), and then the screen game with the backs, getting the backs involved in the passing game so much. They do a great job. They’re a little bit different, defensively. They’ve made some changes, so there’s not as much insight on that side of the ball.”
“They have a really solid defense,” said quarterback Dakota Prukop on Washington State. “They’re going to drop back, play coverage and let their pass-rushers go to work. They’re going to try to force you into making mistakes. It comes down to execution on our part.”
“With Mike Leach as the coach there, the Air Raid offense, everybody’s expecting a pass-happy offense once again,” said Andy McNamara of GoDucks.com. “They ran it against Oregon last year. I think they’re going to run it again this year.”
“You spread the defense out to defend that passing game, which you have to do to limit the big plays by these guys, and you can gash that run defense,” added Rob Moseley of GoDucks.com. “Run defense up the middle is Oregon’s biggest weakness. Of all the issues this team is trying to deal with right now, run defense — that basic fundamental principle in football, has got to be at the top of that list of things that need to be addressed.”