5 Keys To The Game: WSU vs. Oregon State

OREGON STATE BOASTS one of the better defensive secondary units in the Pac-12 but they’ve shown a few cracks of late. And from this chair, the primary reason for that rests with a defensive line hit hard by injuries. Does that also mean the Cougs will look to run a little bit more in Corvallis? We find out in a matter of hours (Pac-12 Networks, 1 p.m.)

Cougars (2-7) vs Beavers (4-4)
AT A GLANCE
KICKOFF:
1:00 pm Pacific Time

WHERE:
Reser Stadium (45,674)

TELEVISION:
Pac-12 Networks

RADIO:
The Cougar Sports Radio Network covers much of the West. Click here for listings.

THE LINE:
OSU by 8 ½

LAST MEETING:
2013 WSU lost 52-24

THE SERIES:
WSU leads 48-47-3

CF.C PREDICTION:
Cougs 28, Beavers 27

WHEN WSU HAS THE BALL
1. Use the ground game.
OSU may have the conference’s best secondary units statistically speaking, but their defensive line has been hit hard by injuries. Establish a physical tone at the line of scrimmage and force the linebackers to focus on the run a split-second longer before they look to get into pass coverage. That split-second could pay dividends galore.

2. Look it all the way in.
Luke Falk needs a big game out of his receiver corps. Throwing windows are likely to be tight and the Cougar receivers need to deliver with big catches in traffic. With River Cracraft expected to be back this week, the drops that plagued the Cougs last time out should be firmly in the rear view mirror.

WHEN WSU IS ON DEFENSE
3. Don’t forget about the run, but attack Mannion.
Mannion is still one of the best passers in the Pac-12, but his offensive line is banged up and his receivers are young and mistake prone. It’s all or nothing here - Mannion becomes a below average QB with consistent heat is applied but give him a good pocket and he’s as good as anyone in the game. Force Oregon State to rely on their ground game. Storm Woods and Terron Ward are serviceable but the advantage swings to Cougar linebacker Cyrus Coen (pictured above) and the crimson stop corps if Oregon State pins its hopes on their run game.

4. Don't get beat deep!
The more plays OSU is forced to make, the better. The WSU secondary cannot get beat over the top on big plays in this one. The biggest component that will help ensure that is a good pass rush - the Cougar secondary is getting an education this year and that's not suddenly going to stop in Week Ten. But harken back to the Utah game, when the Wazzu corners and safeties played one of their best games. What happened? The Cougs got consistent pressure on Ute quarterbacks. Do it again vs. a banged up Beaver o-line.

WHEN WSU IS ON SPECIAL TEAMS
5. Let the other facets of the game decide this one.
Take the Beaver return men out of the game. Boom the punts high and/or out of bounds. Kickoffs should go deep into the end zone, or not see the field at all. Yes, give OSU the ball at the 35-yard line rather than surrender the fourth KO return for a TD and seventh on special teams overall.

Check back on CF.C after the game for our wall-to-wall coverage.

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