The numbers suggest you don't want to miss the second quarter Saturday when WSU hosts OSU

IF YOU CAN ONLY watch a portion of Washington State's Homecoming contest with Oregon State this Saturday, the numbers suggest you won't want to miss the second quarter. If the past is prologue, those 15 minutes could be filled with crimson fireworks.

Looking at scoring-by-quarter data for both the Cougs and the Beavs, the second period jumps off the page because it's been the most fruitful for the Washington State offense this season and the worst for the Oregon State defense.

WSU has scored 48 points in the second quarter this season -- far more than it has scored in either the first or the third quarters and four points more than the fourth. Oregon State, meanwhile, has surrendered 56 points in the second quarter this season, compared to 37, 34, and 22 in the other three quarters.

Here's how the full chart reads for both teams ...

WSU: 1st/31  2nd/48  3rd/21  4th/44
Opp:  1st/31  2nd/19  3rd/44  4th/43

OSU: 1st/21  2nd/30  3rd/28  4th/20
Opp: 1st/37  2nd/56  3rd/34  4th/22

Another stat that explains why the Cougars are a 7 1-2-point favorite on Saturday is yards per play. WSU's offense averages 6 yards per snap to OSU's 4.7.

Over the course of a game, a difference like that adds up to a 100-plus more hashes. Not surprisingly, the Cougars are averaging 31.6 points per game in scoring offense and the Beavers a league-worst 19.8.

ONE OF THE RED FLAG STATISTICS FROM from the Cougars' three-win 2014 season was their success rate when going for it on fourth down.  The Cougs tried it 40 times --  12 more than the next-closest team in the Pac-12 -- but their conversion rate was a woeful league worst of 45 percent. This season the Cougs are on track for even more fourth-down attempts, with 21 so far, but get this: their conversion rate is a whopping 67 percent.  In the win at Oregon, the Cougs converted a glossy 4-of-5 fourth-down attempts.</p>

One conversion rate the Cougs aren't improving upon this season is third-downs. They're 29 of 79 (38 percent) so far, down from 42 percent last season.

IT HASN’T GOTTEN a lot of notice but with five games now under the Cougs' collective belts, it will now.  Indeed, “Falk Watch” has officially begun.

Washington State QB Luke Falk is on pace to pass for more yards than any quarterback in the history of Cougar football.

Falk leads the Pac-12 in passing yards at 396.4 ypg. Over a 12-game regular season, that would net him 4,757 hashes this season -- and vault him past Connor Halliday (4,597, 2013).

The NCAA lists Falk as No. 3 nationally at 392.8 ypg but we’re going to assume WSU has the correct stats, which would place him No. 2 in the country behind Matt Johnson of Bowling Green (422.3 ypg).

THE JUST-UPDATED TUESDAY TICKET COUNT for Washington State-Oregon State: 1,100 reserved seating tickets remain.  There were 2,000 remaining on Monday.

One of the chief complaints Pac-12 fans have voiced for non-attendance are the late start times dictated by television. But that excuse is not in play this weekend: game time on Saturday is 1 p.m.  The weather forecast?  wunderground.com pegs Saturday with a high of 71 degrees and partly sunny.   

WSU sold out Martin three times last season.

To order tickets, CLICK HERE.

FIVE WSU TRUE FRESHMEN on scholarship have played this season -- and three are defensive backs: S Hunter Dale, WR Tavares Martin, CB Darrien Molton, WR Kyle Sweet and Nickel Logan Tago.

A pair of true freshman walk ons have also played: P Zach Charme and WR Kaleb Fossum.

WASHINGTON STATE does not show up well in the total defense statistic, ranking 95th in the country and 11th in the Pac-12. But the Cougs’ 44 tackles-for-loss are the most by any WSU team through the first five games since the 1999 squad had 45 stops. WSU is second in the Pac-12 in tackles-for-loss per game at 8.8, and No. 7 in the country.

Wazzu is fourth in the Pac-12 with 14 sacks, and 24th nationally. They average 2.8 quarterback takedowns per game.

WITH ONE MORE TD GRAB, wideout Dom Williams will stand alone in second place in WSU history. He has 23 TD receptions, currently tying him with Marquess Wilson (2010-12). Jason Hill tops the list with 32 (2003-06).

The first catch by Gabe Marks on Saturday will break his tie with Jared Karstetter for fifth in program history with 166 career receptions.

Marks leads the Pac-12 in catches (43), catches per game (8.6) and is second in receiving yards (525).  His 8.6 rpg is good for fourth in the land.


WSU HEAD MAN Mike Leach rarely heaps praise on players because everyone can always get better in his mind. But on the weekly Pac-12 coaches’ call, his statement on Marks was one to sit up and take notice of:

“I think Gabe has done a tremendous job as far as working to develop into a complete football player,” said Leach.

In winning three of the last four games, the one thing Leach said he has noticed that's been different: practices have been tighter, with the players more focused.

“We have a pretty good work ethic but we’re still young enough that we’re still kinda learning to capitalize on our efforts and our work and on that type of thing,” said Leach.

Leach agreed that the Cougar offense is getting more consistent -- with each unit rising.

“The offensive line is getting better, the receivers are getting into more of a rhythm and so is the quarterback. And then I thought the running backs had a good game last week, too,” said Leach.


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