Off to its first 2-0 start under sixth-year coach Mike Leach, No. 22 Washington State looks to avoid a letdown Saturday against visiting Oregon State. The Cougars rallied from a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Boise State 47-44 in triple overtime last Saturday while Oregon State has looked overmatched in ugly losses to Colorado State and Minnesota.
Cougars backup quarterback Tyler Hilinski threw for 240 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Boise State, but senior Luke Falk will get the start Saturday and look to continue his dominance over the Beavers. Falk, who was benched against the Broncos for ineffectiveness and health reasons, has completed 77 percent of his passes for 1,293 yards and 16 touchdowns in three career wins against Oregon State. Falk and the Cougars should have little trouble against an Oregon State defense that ranks last in the Pac-12 in several categories and has not recorded a sack through three games. “This is absolutely not what I expected in any way, shape or form,” Beavers coach Gary Andersen told reporters. “It’s all on me. We’ll keep battling. We’ll keep fighting. The football team is not playing well, and it’s a football team I’m in charge of.”
TV: 5:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network. LINE: Washington State -21
ABOUT OREGON STATE (1-2): The Beavers rank 128th out of 130 teams nationally in scoring defense (46 points allowed per game) and will be without starting cornerbacks Xavier Crawford (shoulder) and Dwayne Williams (knee) after both were injured in the loss to Minnesota. Freshman safety David Morris provided a spark with 17 tackles against Minnesota, but fellow safety Jalen Moore will miss Saturday’s first half after he was ejected for targeting against the Golden Gophers. Running back Artavis Pierce had 147 all-purpose yards against Minnesota to lead an offense has been stuck in neutral through three games.
ABOUT WASHINGTON STATE (2-0): The Cougars have forced five turnovers in two games and have several dynamic playmakers, including defensive tackle Hercules Mata’afa and linebacker Peyton Pelluer, who was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week after recording a team-high 14 tackles and an interception against Boise State. The offense caught fire after a sluggish first half, but Leach was disappointed by the play of his offensive line after the Broncos recorded five sacks. “We were a bunch of cautious patty-cakers out there,” Leach told reporters. “Our offensive line, we weren’t really whipping anybody. I hope they’re not listening to their press clippings. As a matter of fact, I may never say anything positive about them again.”
1. Washington State has won the last three meetings against Oregon State and holds a 51-47-3 lead in the all-time series.
2. Oregon State RB Ryan Nall rushed for 131 yards, including an 89-yard touchdown, in last season’s 35-31 loss to the Cougars.
3. The Cougars are 14-3 when forcing multiple turnovers under defensive coordinator Alex Grinch.
PREDICTION: Washington State 55, Oregon State 17