3 reasons Washington State will beat Rutgers

PULLMAN – Washington State will avenge two losses on Saturday: the second-half collapse against Portland State last weekend and the gift they handed Rutgers last year in Seattle. It’s hard to be optimistic following the Portland State calamity, but the team I’ve watched every practice since August 8 wasn’t the one that showed up last Saturday.

For three reasons, I’m predicting a Washington State victory over Rutgers in their 12:30 Pacific time kickoff (ESPNU).

1. Dom Williams WILL SHINE
  The fifth-year senior from Pomona has the speed, experience and hands to exploit Rutgers’ young secondary. He had some uncharacteristic drops last week and will be gunning for redemption. Look for Falk to hit him over the top and in the red zone. I might be a stretch to think Williams will snag the three TD receptions he needs to tie legendary Hugh Campbell on the all-time list, but Rutgers’ secondary youth is downright startling: five of the eight DBs on the two-deep chart are second- or first-year freshmen.

  2. THE FRONT SEVEN WILL PLUG THE GAPS
After getting torched on the ground by Portland State, the Cougar defense spent the practice week hyper-focused on filling the gaps. Last year, Scarlet Knight back Paul James rushed for 173 yards against WSU and he returns this season. Cougar linebacker Jeremiah Allison said Monday that defensive coordinator Alex Grinch has emphasized the “Cougar Advantage” this week. “If we can stop the run, we’ll have the advantage,” he said. You heard it here — if the Cougars hold Rutgers to less than 150 yards on the ground, they’ll win.

  3. PLACEKICKING WILL BE CLEANED UP
Against Portland State, a high snap and rain caused an issue on one field goal attempt, which was blocked. Based on the special teams work over recent weeks — this week in particular — I don’t get the sense that miscue will prove a harbinger that last year’s kicking woes will continue. Long snapper Lucas Gravelle looked sharp this week and kicker Erik Powell has been consistent since August. In a game, like last season’s at CenturyLink, that many believe will come down to a field goal, I’m going with the Cougs.

  FINAL SCORE
  WSU 38, Rutgers 35

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