| Cougars (3-3) vs Beavers (1-5)|
AT A GLANCE
7:30 pm Pacific Time
Players to Know
Sean Mannion, QB: Amidst OSU's struggles in the opener, the redshirt freshman supplanted Ryan Katz as the starting QB. He throws a very pretty ball. Not always sure where, but it's pretty.
Malcolm Agnew, RB: OSU has had a string of NFL running backs since Dennis Erickson's reign, but there was a gaping hole at the position this year. The 188 pound freshman Agnew (son of NFL player Ray Agnew) is a nifty back being asked to fill the role early, but he has been banged up much of the year and the running game has simply not delivered the big plays this offense needs.
Markus Wheaton, WR: The veteran has supplanted the playing-but-still-recovering James Rogers as the team's most reliable receiver, averaging just under 100 yards per game.
Mike Riley's offense is no big mystery. He wants to stretch the defense and open space for the running back with zone blocking, but only the passing game has been doing its part though it too has had its suspect moments. The receivers are the group's strength and the freshman quarterback is the big X-factor. The offensive line has been banged up and inconsistent.
The aggressive tone set by the Cougar defense last season should again serve them well. OSU is not nearly as sound as the likes of Stanford and mistakes will happen. WSU should unleash pressure and let the ball hawking secondary make plays – Mannion has thrown nine interceptions already this year but has been sacked only five times.
THE BEAVERS ON DEFENSE
Players to Know
Jordan Poyer, CB: The junior has garnered three interceptions on a defense woefully short of playmakers. He makes big contributions on special teams too, having taken a kick back to the house.
Scott Crichton, DE: The ascension of youth has uncovered the Tacoma freshman's potential. He has a team best three sacks and a Pac-12 leading eight tackles for a loss as a speed rushing end.
The Beavers 4-3 lacks run stopping beef up front so they tend to keep the linebackers up – bit two of those starters, MLB Feti Unga and SLB Cameron Collins are out injured for this week's game. This should leave their veteran secondary even more stranded than they've been. They were iffy against the pass the last time WSU played them and that was with All-American defensive tackle Stephen Paea controlling the line. This year's Beavs is also now missing a starting DT, Castro Masaniai, who is out for the year. Teams have racked up the rushing attempts but they've also really passed the ball efficiently against OSU this year. Running quarterbacks have completely thrown them for a loop.
It's about execution. Protect the QB, catch the football, and for the love of god hang onto it. Paul Wulff was well served to get the rust of Jeff Tuel last week because the Cougs must have good quarterback play against the Beavers. The running game should function effectively, but touchdowns may still have to come through the air.
THE BEAVERS ON SPECIAL TEAMS
Jordan Poyer has been a bright spot in the return game, an area rapidly becoming an Achilles heel for the Cougs. Unfortunately for the Beavers, opponents haven't punted much. Kicker Trevor Romaine has struggled, converting only half of his attempts beyond 30 yards.
-This team isn't awful, they've been competitive in every game except Wisconsin. While it has been a hugely disappointing season for the Beavers so far, there is still some mystery to this game. Against their only common opponent, UCLA, the Beavers lost by a touchdown and had a game tying pass intercepted in the fourth quarter. Sounds pretty familiar.
-Still, WSU should be able to move the ball well against a depleted OSU defense – unless they stop themselves. WSU must find the end zone and not have to settle for field goals. -Meanwhile, coach Mike Riley hopes to use this game as a springboard to recovery the same way WSU did in Corvallis last year. Expect an emotional and aggressive contest.
Cougs 35, Beavers 20