The Cougars play host to the Oregon Ducks this weekend as they are looking to upset one of the best teams in the country. With Washington State trying to have one of their biggest upsets in their history, the Ducks are looking to write their names in the history books as one of the first 4 teams in the college football playoff.
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The Ducks (3-0) are coming off of 3 games where they dominated and the Cougars are coming off of a lopsided game against an FCS school after having back to back disappointing losses.
If the Cougars are wanting to win this game I have 5 keys to have a big upset against the Ducks.
Defense Stepping Up
The Oregon offense is fast and the Cougars defense is going to have to be able to keep up with them and be able to play their best even after they are tired and worn out. We have all seen or heard of Marcus Mariota and there are many more like him on the team. The defense is going to have to step their game up this weekend and do all they can to be able to slow them down and get the ball back in the hands of the offense.
Oregon averages 8.35 yards per play and hardly turns the ball over. There are going to be very few chances that they are going to get lucky and have the Ducks slip up and they will need to step up and make those chances come to them.
Oregon scores or has the ability to score every time they touch the ball. It will be very important for the team to win the turnover battle and give the offense more time to score than the defense is trying to get a stop.
Halliday has had some issues turning the ball over in recent years and even so this season. It is a necessity that Halliday makes smart choices at quarterback and doesn’t give Oregon more chances to score the ball.
Marcus Mariota has yet to throw an interception this season and the Cougar defense would like that to change. Defensive back Daquawn Brown leads the pac-12 in passes defended and is tied for second in the nation with 6.
“Work Smarter, Not Harder”
The Cougars are going to need to work smarter, not harder this weekend. The Cougars don’t have the speed to match the Ducks and are going to need to be smart this weekend with play calling. There is a reason Oregon is ranked 2nd in the nation and is expected to be one of the teams in the final playoff. They game plan and know what they are doing and it is going to make it a lot harder for the Cougars to do the same thing.
The Ducks seem to not let off the gas when they have a lead and are not the type of team to just roll over if it is a close game. There is going to have to be a lot of energy late in the game and they are going to have to not let up even if they get down. The game is in Pullman and should allow them to have the backing of the fans if it gets down to it.
Big Time Halliday
Halliday has had two of his top three performances this season and his best game was last season against the Ducks. If the Cougars are going to win it is going to require the same Halliday we saw last weekend and last season. After throwing for almost 1,500 yards in just 3 games this season Halliday looks like he is going to be hard to stop.
If this game comes down to it, Halliday is going to need to be smart and on the top of his game to outplay Oregon and come away with a win. He already has some of the best receivers in the nation and has shown that he can utilize each and every one of them.
The receivers, as well as Halliday, are going to need to play the type of game that they have yet to play if they want this game to be the turn of the season.
After last weekend the Cougar fans have shown that they can stick around and support the team even in a blowout. The team really could have used the home crowd in the first two weeks and it will be extremely important that they are loud and do whatever they can to get under Mariota’s skin. They are going to need to give the team the backup and the support that comes with trying to upset the second best team in the nation.
The game has been sold out and seats were added to get more fans to the game. It is going to be important that they show up in full force and are able to do whatever they can to help out the Cougars. The fans want this game just as bad as the players do and it will be a necessity for both the fans and the players to have each others back.