Washington State has definitely built some momentum over the past few weeks with big wins over Stanford and Oregon, the two teams who have combined to win the last seven conference championships. They have a game this week that should be very winnable against the UCLA Bruins (3-3) at Martin Stadium. Washington State has put themselves in a position to control their own destiny in the Pac-12 North and this is a game they should be able to take advantage of, especially if Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen doesn’t play, although I expect him to be suited up on Saturday Night.
Players to watch for the Bruins: The obvious one, if he plays, is quarterback Josh Rosen. He is a projected top NFL draft pick when he is eligible to enter the draft. If the defensive front doesn’t put pressure on him, he is capable of making all of the throws on the field that you could imagine and he could have a huge day. On the flip side, if the front seven can get after him and put pressure on him, which most teams have been able to do this year, they can force him into some really dumb turnovers which could lead to the offense getting very good field position, which would be helpful because the Bruins have a pretty solid defense only giving up 22.5 points per game. Another player to watch for the Bruins is wide receiver Kenneth Walker III. He is averaging 18 yards per catch and has three touchdowns on the season. He is their main big play receiver and if they can avoid him having big catches they can make a pretty pedestrian offense have to drive the whole field.
Keys for the Cougars: As mentioned above, a key is putting pressure on Rosen, because when there’s pressure on him he becomes turnover prone. A huge key for the defense besides that is making sure the Bruins can’t get a running game going. As a team they only average 2.9 yards per carry on the season which is not good last time I checked. Last week against Stanford the front held Christian McCaffrey in check and it paid huge dividends by putting all of the pressure on the Stanford quarterbacks to beat them. They have the possibility of doing the exact same thing this week. Luke Falk will have to avoid any costly turnovers to also make the Bruins have to drive the field. The offense will also need to keep the running game going that they’ve had in the past few weeks because it’s helping out Falk and the passing game immensely. The running game could also help them score touchdowns in the redzone because kicking field goals isn’t really an option for Coach Leach at this point.
Other information: The game kicks off at 7:30 PM PT on ESPN. Washington State is 8 point favorites and the Over/Under for the game is set at 53. It is also homecoming weekend in Pullman.