The Washington State Cougars (2-1) will be going against rival Idaho (0-3) in a game called The Battle of The Palouse and are 31 point favorites to win the game. Here are my 5 keys for a WSU victory. Being such big favorites to win this game I feel like there are not many “keys” that will be needed to win the game so I threw in two keys that I believe will help the team in the long run.
This one really isn’t a key to a victory, but more of a “why should the Cougars win.” As we all know this weeks match-up for the Cougars is against a school that is less than 8 miles away. With no future games scheduled between the two schools this could be the last time that these two play each other for many years to come. The last time this game was played it was 2007. Bragging rights are a huge part of football in general and it doesn’t get much better than beating a school that is so close.
This one also is less of a key to win but more of something that is a key to win in the long run. Last week against Southern Utah there was a lot of time for the back ups to get their share of playing time. Backup QB Austin Apodaca got his first taste of college football as the Cougars were up 48-10 on the Thunderbirds. It’s games like these that the backups need to come in and get their experience while still adding onto the lead. If the Cougars are able to get a big enough lead watch for the backups to come in and take advantage of the playing time they are getting. Being that the Cougars are facing a team that has allowed opponents to score 40+ points in their first three games and is a 31 point underdog, I see the backups getting their time.
Idaho has two quarterbacks in Chad Chalich and Joshua McCain and will utilize them both as much as they can. McCain is their go-to guy when they want to run the ball and Chalich is their throwing QB. McCain is the Vandals leading rusher so far this year. The Cougars will have to step their rushing defense up and stop both McCain as well as their other running backs. We have all seen the defense and have witnessed what they can do against the pass, now it’s time to see what they can do against the run.
This one is a big one for me. I believe the Cougars have a lot of confidence going into this game. After upsetting #25 ranked USC and putting up 48 on Southern Utah it’s hard not to have confidence. The Cougars will face #5 ranked Stanford next week in the annual Seattle Game that is technically a home game for the Cougars. If the team wants to come out of that game with a victory they will need to gain more confidence and fix any problems they have against the Vandals.
This key really isn’t a big deal as it has been in the past. Instead of focusing on offensive turnovers this week I feel like the defense needs to have their turn. Chalich has yet to throw an interception this season, he will test the defense and air the ball out when he has to. Idaho has put the ball on the ground 10 times so far this season, losing 8 of the fumbles. The defense will have to take advantage of these turnovers. In a side note, if patterns continue then Connor Halliday will throw no interceptions this week. In his first game against Auburn he threw for 3, in week two against USC, 2, in week 3 against Southern Utah, 1. One can only hope that he throws none this game.