Prediction: A rarity for Washington State Saturday as they host OSU

PULLMAN – Something rare is going to happen on Saturday in Pullman – after watching the team practice all week, that’s my prediction for when Washington State hosts Oregon State on Homecoming (1 p.m., Pac-12 Network).

It’s been a while since WSU had a blowout Pac-12 win -- I believe the Cougs are going to cruise to victory.  No more pulling out a win in the final moments, nor surrendering a coulda-woulda-shoulda loss.  Not this Saturday.

Oregon State has surrendered 40-plus points in each of its two Pac-12 games this season, at home against Stanford and on the road against Arizona. The call here: WSU makes it three in a row. All signs point to it. 

And if I’m wrong, if Washington State continues to put their best foot forward on the road rather than at home against the most beatable team left on the schedule, then trying to predict the 2015-16 Cougs will make The Voynich Manuscript look like a children’s pop-up book.

Three bold predictions

1. Luke Falk and the potent Cougar O will score 40-plus points (in regulation).

After throwing for 505 yards against the Ducks, I expect Falk to put up around 400 hashes against the Beavers –  because I expect WSU to be more efficient and finish off more drives than last week.  The Beavers’ run defense is woeful, having coughed up 347 yards per the last two games. WSU should take advantage of it but I don’t know if they will, not fully. Jamal Morrow and Gerard Wicks are coming off career rushing games but Mike Leach has shown he’s more interested in trying to dictate his scheme to the opponent and that means precision passing. Still, I think the Cougs will have a big enough lead in the second half that the run carries will be fairly plentiful.

2. The Cougar D will hold the Beavers under 200 yards rushing.

No, that doesn’t sound like much but given the way teams have run wild on the Cougs, including 200-plus to UO’s Royce Freeman and 400-plus to Oregon as a whole, it’s progress. Washington State has been emphasizing, “Gaps, Leverage, Check down, Rally,” the past two weeks and I expect Alex Grinch is going to see the most progress from that on Saturday. Oregon State is averaging 181.0 rushing yards a game. OSU is almost certain to try and run, run, run in this game. If the Cougs take that away and force QB Seth Collins or Marcus McMaryion to try and beat them through the air, the end result OSU is going to be sending their punter out on a lot of fourth downs.

3. The Cougar special teams will score a touchdown.

I’ve predicted this before and been wrong. But the Cougs have been one man away a few times – especially kickoff return man Tavares Martin. You could see Martin’s confidence building this past Saturday, and that might be the last piece to the puzzle for taking one to the house. Gabe Marks is capable of taking a punt back as well, but there’s a another option here.  OSU has had a punt blocked this season, and the Cougs have been getting some decent penetration the last two games.

Final score prediction

Washington State fans will have as drama-less Pac-12 win as they’ve had in a while.

Cougars 49, Beavers 21.


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