The Washington State game with Oregon State this weekend (dad’s weekend in Pullman) isn’t even going to be the most anticipated game in the state of Washington, that honor goes to the Oregon vs Washington game at 1 pm in Seattle. Could be though, that the game on the East side of the state at 7:30 pm will be the more entertaining of the two when all is said and done.
At 4-2 (2-1) this week is the most excitement that Washington State University has seen in a decade of football. Multiple conference wins on the road have the entire community buzzing and thinking that this is the time, this is the year the Cougars return to a bowl game. Martin Stadium won’t be louder than Husky Stadium this weekend, but with a capacity crowd packed in, it will sure rival it’s atmospheric home field advantage. We’ve seen Martin when the Cougs are good and it’s no joke that it is one of the most difficult places to deal with as a road team in the entire conference.
Oregon State finds themselves still trying to recover from an opening week loss that wiped them off the face of the national map. People in Corvallis know the Beavs are still primed to make a run at a BCS game in its’ final year of existence, the rest of the country is waiting for a couple more weeks of impressive victories to see if the Beavs are for real.
Both of these teams have confidence heading into the weekend. Oregon State coach Mike Riley got an extra week to prepare his team for the challenge of Pullman, but the Beavers haven’t been to Pullman in four years. Mike Leach and the Cougs are just trying to get a week better, which would put them in a really good position to upset OSU at home on national TV.
Brandon Cooks figures to have a huge game, after Chris Harper for Cal ran around the Cougar secondary for over 200 yards. Cooks is the conference’s number one receiver with 52 receptions for 807 yards and 9 touchdowns. For Cougar fans to put that in perspective, Harper is the Pac-12′s 4th best and Gabe Marks is the Pac’s 9th best with 41 catches for 478 yards and 4 touchdowns. Cooks also has two games with at least 200 yards already this season.
On the plus side, the Beavs are the second worst rushing team in the conference, with only WSU being below them in both attempts and yards per game. The Cougs are averaging more yards per rush, at 3.17 to OSU’s 2.45, so that tells you that one secondary or the other is going to have to win this ballgame.
Both quarterbacks are good, running the first and third ranked passing offenses in the conference. Sean Mannion won back his starting job over Cody Vaz in the Fall and is leading the conference with 2,018 yards, 21 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. Connor Halliday is having a nice season with 1,993 yards and 13 touchdowns (with one more game than Mannion) but has struggled with turnovers, throwing 10 of them.
We’ll continue to analyze the matchup over the week, but the early look shows us that this weekend should be filled with fireworks and an electric atmosphere in Pullman!