5 keys for Cougars vs. Beavers as Washington State on the road looks to run its Pac-12 record to 5-0

WASHINGTON STATE’s second straight road game also happens to be the opponent’s second straight homecoming game. Make no mistake -- there are no gimmies in the Pac-12, especially away from home. But the Cougs have all the firepower in this matchup. Let’s look at the keys to crimson victory and a 5-0 mark in Pac-12 play.

1. Get the lead out.
Things have generally fallen apart for OSU when falling behind.  They just don't have enough offensive weapons.  WSU needs to get ahead quickly -- or it will turn into a slugfest.

2. Protect Falk.
Luke Falk got the tar beat out of him last week, and WSU cannot allow him to withstand the same kind of punishment.  The o-line needs to do a better job, as do the running backs when called upon to stay home and block. But Falk must also defer to the run more, and get rid of the ball quicker.

3. Contain Nall.
RB Ryan Nall is listed as questionable with a foot injury, but is expected to play.  When healthy, he is one of the most underrated, powerful backs in the conference and averages over 7.2 per carry.

4. Beware of trickery.
OSU is down to its third-string quarterback and is not a strong passing team.  Last year's starting quarterback, Seth Collins, now plays wide receiver, and fellow receiver Victor Bolden is electric on reverses and sweeps.  Expect a lot of trickery in an effort to force a big play and seize momentum.

5. Keep the special teams moving forward.
Kicker Erik Powell has made three straight field goals, and the Cougs just ripped off their first kickoff return for a TD since 2003.  There remain unfocused moments on special teams. But WSU has, and needs to keep, the special teams arrow pointing up.

Final thought: The Beavers have a lot more fight in them than last year -- the 52-31 WSU win was over at halftime. But OSU is beat up too badly to keep pace with the Cougs on Saturday night ... unless the Cougs allow it to happen.

The Matt Moore Prediction: WSU 42, OSU 17

•    KICKOFF: Saturday, 7:45 pm Pacific
•    TV: ESPN 2
•    THE LINE: Cougs by 13 1/2 (WSU opened as 15-point favorite)
•    THE RECORDS: Cougs 5-2/4-0; Beavs 2-5/1-3
•    THE SERIES: Cougs lead 50-47-3
•    THE RANKINGS: Cougs No. 26 in AP poll

Check back with CF.C after the game for  our wall-to-wall coverage and during the game for lively message board conversation.

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