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Washington State Looks to Become Bowl Eligible

wsucougars.com

Saturday Night Washington State will take its five game winning streak to Reser Stadium in Corvallis, Oregon to try and become bowl eligible, and keep their hopes of winning the Pac-12 North alive. The Beavers are currently sitting at 2-5 with a 1-3 conference record. Their lone conference win came against a California team who plays a very similar style as the Cougars. Oregon State is going to be on their third string quarterback with Marcus McMaryion getting his second start of the season. It is unknown if Oregon State running back Ryan Nall will be playing.

Players to watch for the Beavers: The obvious one if he plays will be running back Ryan Nall. He has been their main source of offense this season, including a 221 yard performance in their conference win over Cal. He is a tough runner to bring down so if he does play the Cougars will have to make sure to have as many people around the ball as possible when it’s in his hands. Victor Bolden is the Beavers most explosive offensive player. They usually look to get him involved in ways besides the passing game, which is good because they struggle to throw the ball. They will use him on fly sweeps and on kickoff returns. He sports a very good 28.3 yards per returns on kickoffs with one touchdown on the year. Seth Collins is also a very talented all-around offensive player. They try and use creative ways to get the ball in his hands just like they do with Bolden. If the Cougars defense can keep these guys from beating them they have a good chance to really hold the Oregon State offense in check. Oregon State has two main players to watch out for on defense, the first one is Bright Ugwoegbu. He is a very athletic and aggressive linebacker. It will be interesting to see if he will be is pass coverage more this weekend or if Oregon State will try and have him rush the passer against the air raid attack. The other is cornerback Treston Decoud. He has two interceptions on the season and is one of the better cornerbacks in the conference. Washington State will probably look to attack the other corners of Oregon State and test their depth at that position.

Keys for the Cougars: Yes Oregon State actually has some pretty good skill position players for a 2-5 team, but Washington State holds a huge advantage up front on both sides of the ball. Oregon State is very vulnerable to allowing the run, giving up just over 230 yards per game on the ground. They are actually pretty solid against the pass, so I expect Mike Leach to try and establish the run game and make Oregon State prove that they can stop it before really airing it out. Cal runs a similar offense to Washington State and was still able to score 44 while only throwing for 124 yards, so you can definitely run the ball on this front seven. On the defensive side of the ball Washington States front seven should really be able to get to the quarterback. Oregon State has given up 20 sacks on the year, which isn’t a crazy amount, but they also let their quarterbacks get hit a lot, which is why they are on their third string quarterback. Oregon State will probably try and run the ball a lot even if Ryan Nall doesn’t play, just to try and slow down the Cougars front seven from aggressively going after the quarterback, which is why it will be key for them to be able to stop the run. If they can stuff the Beavers run game they will force a quarterback who is completing 43% of his passes in his career to beat them and that will play well into the hands of Washington State. Another key for this game will be to get off to a fast stare. Oregon State is being outscored 90-23 in the first half of conference games. If Washington State comes out focused they have a good chance to bury Oregon State in the first half, but if they let them hang Oregon State will believe they have a chance, just like they did with Cal.

Other information: The game will kickoff at 7:45 PM PT on ESPN2. The Cougars are 13.5 point favorites and the over/under is set at 57. The weather is expected to be in the low 60s to high 50s with a chance of rain.