This weekend the Washington State Cougars will take on the Stanford Cardinal (no, there is no S on the end of that) in the annual Seattle Game. Stanford is a 10-point favorite as of Wednesday. Stanford comes into this game ranked fifth in the nation and is 3-0, Washington State comes in at 3-1. Here are 5 keys the Cougars will have to do to come away with an upset this weekend:
This one is a big key for the Cougs to come away with an upset this weekend. Washington State comes into this game giving up 11 turnovers on the year so far. When going against the fifth ranked team in the nation you cannot make mistakes and turn the ball over, especially if the team is capable of scoring at will. Stanford has turned the ball over 4 times, two interceptions and two lost fumbles. If the Cougars want to come away with a win they must also win in the turnover category
Connor Halliday is coming into the game after having 3 great games against USC, Southern Utah, and Idaho. Halliday must keep up the pace he is at in order to win this weekend. Having thrown for 8 interceptions and losing 1 fumble his turnover to touchdown ratio is not the best. In order for the Cougars to win this weekend their signal caller will have to play to the best of his abilities and will have to lead and take the offense to the endzone early and quick.
The Offensive line is something that is slowly improving as the season is progressing. Halliday has been sacked 7 times this year so far. With a talented Stanford defense the offensive line will have to give Halliday the time he needs in the pocket to throw the ball. With a team that is as good as the Cardinal are, the Cougars are going to have to throw the ball as well as run the ball, the offensive line will have to give the running backs the holes they need to break free and keep Stanford on their heels worrying about a pass or run. Last year the Cardinal had 10 sacks on Washington State alone in a 24-17 loss for the Cougars. For more info about the trenches click here.
So far the Washington State defense has been stellar and has surprised many fans in Coug Nation. Stanford is an all-around team and is very capable of running the ball down your throat all game. With big tight-ends and big offensive lineman the Cougar defense will have to step their game up and will have to be prepared to stop both the passing game and the ground game of the Cardinal. After holding teams to an average of 12 points per game the Cougars will have to keep that performance up this weekend to get a victory.
In the long run I look at this as the biggest key for the Cougars. If they get down big at any point in the game or ultimately lose the game they will need to keep their heads up. The team needs to realize they are facing the fifth ranked team in the nation and will not be able to walk all over them like they were able to with both Southern Utah and Idaho, it will be a tough game and if the team realizes that and realizes there is more than one victory to this game then they will be in great shape. Another point to mention is that the team will be playing in Seattle at Century Link Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks, and will not have the student fan support that they would if they were playing in Pullman. The team will have to do a lot of their own cheering on this weekend and will have to get themselves pumped for the game. Hopefully the Cougar faithful will be able to show up in great numbers in Seattle this weekend.