Here are five reasons I think the Cougs have a chance tomorrow. They get continually less ludicrous (I hope), with reasons 3-5 being potentially legitimate arguments.
1. The depth of the Pac-10.
That's right, with last night's "shocker" (c'mon, we knew USC would lose one of their games, and why not to the team who did it two years ago?), the Pac-10 can once again claim that they have the toughest conference top to bottom. Anybody can win any given night. Think you're hot stuff after beating the #5 team in the country? Get a wake up call by losing on the road to the team at the bottom (tied) of the Pac 10! Yes, the fierce mediocrity of our teams can only be matched by the ACC, where even basketball schools like UNC and Duke can post winning football records. Thus it is hardly speculation to claim Wazzu has "as good a shot as anybody" of pulling the upset at home. The SEC has nothing on us.
2. Two teams moving in opposite directions.
Wazzu is on a one game winning streak, while the Duckies are trending down, narrowly pulling out a win at Purdue before falling to a good Boise State team. The confidence in the defense and the QB has hardly been higher all year in Pullman, while multiple questions are arising in Eugene about the secondary (torched for 386 yards last week) and whether the plethora of QBs will sum up to one Nate Costa (or, in fans' wet dreams, one Dennis Dixon). Simply having positive momentum at home vs. negative momentum on the road should help offset the talent deficit we face.
3. Home field advantage is crucial for inexperienced QBs.
Similarly to the confidence / momentum issue, home field advantage will play a big part tomorrow. For Wazzu, despite the instant man-crush of all Cougs on the Rock Lobster (aka Ocho Rojo), the QB is inexperienced and will benefit from quiet crowd noise when calling audibles and loud cheers every time he does something right. Also loud cheers every time he gets sacked and does not get injured. For Oregon, the two-to-three man tag team will not only be disoriented by crazy fans (possibly throwing things) but by constant shifts and movement by the defense. This could result in multiple false starts and / or broken plays due to audibles being unintelligible. To tell the truth, it may serve Oregon's best interests to not even play a QB, and just direct snap to the tailback and run 11-on-11 every down.
4. Oregon is more one-dimensional than they look.
We all know the Ducks can run the ball. 306 yards against Purdue, 227 against Boise State, and both of those games requiring comebacks and airing it out??? Those are not slacker teams. Oregon is talented at running, and hey, Wazzu sucks at stopping the run. But the return of Xavier Hicks and re-allocation of Alfonso Jackson, both safeties, has in theory tightened up what could best be described as "open field running room" defense. However, Oregon has multiple issues at QB, with only one of the three really looking like he knows how to pass - Masoli may have residual effects from being knocked out of the game, but he's a baller, while Thomas lit up BSU's defense in the air and on the ground, but let's see how he does against non-prevent-type defenses. This (optimistic) reasoning suggests that we can stack the box to slow down the rushing attack. At least, we need to make them beat us through the air - very possible, but I feel more comfortable about our secondary one-on-one with their WRs than our safeties one-on-one with Blount in the open field.
5. Oregon's defense is not what we thought they were.
Now I'm not going to start comparing WSU's (previously) anemic offense to Boise State or Purdue, but with people finally getting healthy and the offensive line starting to come together, we might be able to put some points up against the Ducks. Oregon's best game defensively came in the opener, at home, against the soap opera that is the Washington Huskies. UW's offense can best be described as "Jake Locker ROXORS" with multiple big plays coming off of broken line blocking and Locker scrambling. I still haven't seen him make more than one or two good throws a game, and so he wasn't exactly the type to really test the secondary with pinpoint accuracy all over the field. Other than the 10 points allowed to UW, Oregon gave up 24 to Utah State (the facts AWFUL Utah State put up 24 vs. that Oregon went up big before playing their backups roughly cancel out), 23 to Purdue in regulation, and 37 to Boise State. Note that the defense is roughly trending with the team as a whole. ~400 yards given up in each of the last two games, with the strange splits of ~200pass ~200rush to Purdue but ~386pass ~38rush to Boise State. I don't really know what will be more effective against Oregon, but given our inexperienced QB I would say that a balanced attack a la Purdue would be the right thing to try. Our O-line is wayyyyy better run blocking than pass blocking, so sweeps, draw plays, and screens will hopefully alleviate the inevitable pressure, while quick slants or curls to the slot receivers or tight ends should keep the ball and the chains moving without needing great blocking. It would be nice if we could get our best player (Gibson) the ball, but honestly I only see him getting a lot of yardage if he gets a lot of receptions. I don't expect us to even attempt more than a couple deep throws. This will be a game of inches, and Oregon's defense has recently looked like they'll give up that type of battle.
So there are my reasons we might actually win. The counter-arguments suggest themselves, and probably can be summed up as "Oregon has too much talent and speed to be contained by a suspect (at best) defense." Despite Oregon's high scoring games the last few weeks, I would not expect us to win a shootout, even if the Oregon D is as bad as they've looked recently. If we let their QB(s) get confidence early on, and Oregon can run a balanced offense, this game could get ugly quick.