Week 5 Weekend Matchup: Oregon Ducks vs. Washington State Cougars at Martin Stadium
When: October 1, 2016 at 6:30 p.m. PT
Vegas Over/Under: Oregon -1.5
Coming off a crushing loss to the Nebraska Cornhuskers two weeks ago, followed by a second straight loss to Colorado last weekend, the Oregon Ducks are looking to rebound on Saturday against Washington State. This week will also be the first time in a year that the Ducks will not be ranked within the top 25 for two straight weeks.
The Washington State Cougars are coming off a bye week, after having won their first game of the 2016-17-college football season against Idaho on September 17. So far the Cougars season seems to be headed in the wrong direction after losing to FCS Eastern Washington and Boise State (who is currently ranked 24th in the AP Top 25 Poll).
Overall the Ducks and Cougars have played each other 95 times, with Oregon winning 49 of those matchups. It will be interesting how the 96th matchup between the Oregon Ducks and Washington State Cougars goes, considering that Oregon was able to steal Quarterback’s Coach David Yost from Washington State over the offseason.
However, Washington State has a history of starting the season off slow after losing a game or two, but then coming out with a vengeance against Oregon. And this year will be no different, as the odd-makers in Vegas are predicting that the game could swing in either team’s favor.
So, what does each team need to do to capture their first conference win on Saturday?
FOR OREGON: Once again the Ducks need to execute the same game plan they have had all season going into this weekend, by coming out fast, avoiding costly penalties, and building-up an early lead over Washington State while maintaining that momentum.
Quarterback Dakota Prukop will also need to be more decisive and increase awareness when the pocket is collapsing around him, while making sure that he doesn’t turn over the ball.
Unfortunately, the Ducks will likely be without their Heisman Trophy candidate Royce Freeman, on Saturday again, who was lost to injury in the first quarter against Nebraska two weekends ago. But Fortunately for Oregon, playmakers such as Kani Benoit, Taj Griffin, and Tony Brooks-James have stepped up to handle the heavy workload.
The Ducks will also need to provide more opportunities for offensive weapons Darren Carrington and Charles Nelson, to help drive the offense and balance out the running game.
But perhaps even more importantly, Oregon needs to keep improving on defense by doing a better job of containing the quarterback, avoiding missing tackles, and not giving up long distance plays. Look for defensive leaders Ugo Amadi, Arrion Springs, Troy Dye, and Brenden Schooler to set the example for Oregon’s defense.
For Washington State: Although Washington State accomplished a winning season last year with a record of 6-3; they haven’t been atop the conference in quite some time. However, the Cougars come into Saturday’s matchup to prove that they are a top contender in the Pac-12 conference this season.
Luke Falk, arguably one of the best quarterbacks in the Pac-12 currently, has completed 117-158 passes, for 1,124 yards, including 11 touchdowns, and two interceptions this season.
Look for the Cougars to maximize the running game, including multiple carries from running backs James Williams, Jamal Morrow, and Gerard Wicks who have combined for 60 carries, rushing for 344 yards and four touchdowns this season.
Also expect the Cougars to make more use of wide receivers Gabe Marks, Tavares Martin Jr., River Cracaft, Jamal Morrow, Kyle Sweet, Robert Lewis and Gerard Wicks, who thus far have combined for 102 receptions gaining 1,019 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Bottom line, if Oregon comes out fast, avoids costly penalties, and maintains an early lead; Washington State will have their hands full. However, Oregon has yet to pull it all together this season.
Prediction: Although the Ducks have shown some improvement on defense, it just isn’t up to par with the air raid offense that Washington State provides. Unfortunately for Oregon, they will suffer their third straight loss, by the score of 49-42.
Wrap Up Notes: The Oregon Ducks do not have any scheduled recruiting visits this weekend, while the team is on the road. However after last weekend’s game against Colorado, Jaylon Redd, committed to the Ducks. Redd is ranked 26 among all cornerbacks, as well as 210 nationally. With Redd’s commitment the Ducks now stand fourth in the Pac-12 recruiting rankings and 31 in the national recruiting rankings.