The WSU Cougars will take on the No. 2 Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium in Eugene on Saturday (7 p.m., Fox Sports 1) in what most are forecasting to be a blowout victory for the home team.
Still, the Cougs have hung tough -- for at least a little while -- against the Ducks the last few years. Heck, last year I turned around to face the plethora of Duck fans surrounding me and shouted, "YOU NERVOUS YET?" The looks on their faces betrayed the shaky "nooooo" that came from their lips.
Of course, it never lasts. (Sorry Tyree.)
The good news? DeAnthony Thomas probably isn't playing. The bad news? THEY HAVE LIKE A MILLION MORE FAST DUDES JUST LIKE DEANTHONY THOMAS.
Let's learn more about the Ducks in this Q&A with Addicted To Quack's David Piper.
CougCenter:Oregon doesn't look any different to the outsider than it did under Chip Kelly, but I'm sure you notice some nuanced changes. Tell us what you see.
This is a more balanced offense than Oregon ever had under Chip Kelly. They are actually averaging a yard more rushing per game than last year, but are also averaging 80 yards more per game passing, and the split is almost 50/50, whereas it was 60/40 or even 70/30 in previous seasons. Part of that, of course, is that Marcus Mariota is more talented than Darron Thomas and Jeremiah Masoli were. Oregon also isn't spreading the ball out to as many people as in years past. The Ducks haven't had a 1,000 yard receiver since Jeff Maehl in 2009. But Josh Huff is finally staying healthy, and Bralon Addison has really emerged. Both are on pace to break that 1,000 yard mark.
CougCenter: Is there a chance this is the best Oregon team yet?
I think it definitely is. Talent-wise, it is no question. We'll see if they can go undefeated and ultimately capture that white whale.
CougCenter: Oregon State had tremendous success getting to the edges on WSU. In the presumed absence of DeAnthony Thomas, tell us who is going to burn the Cougar defense for long touchdowns.
It is unsure whether Thomas will be back for this game, though conventional wisdom suggests you hold him out another week and get him healthy for UCLA. Absent DAT, Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner become the primary running backs. Marshall is a bigger back who excels more on runs to the middle. He had a problem with dancing early in the season, but seems to have cleared that up. Tyner is the freshman phenom who has been inconsistent, but has blazing speed. Both are more than capable of long touchdowns. Don't forget about Mariota, who has scored a rushing touchdown every game as well, and may as well be a running back once he takes off.
CougCenter: Which member of the front seven is most likely to terrorize Connor Halliday into some more interceptions with pressure?
There are a lot of names getting sacks for Oregon this season, and the Ducks have 16 as a team. 4.5 of those have been by Tony Washington, who has replaced Dion Jordan at rush end, though DTs Taylor Hart and Wade Keliikipi have been very successful as well.
CougCenter: Let's assume that Oregon has a weakness. What would that be, and how likely is it that WSU could actually successfully attack it?
If you can force Oregon to kick field goals, they're still not very good at it. Unfortunately for WSU, they're probably not going to force Oregon to kick field goals.
CougCenter: The last few years, WSU has been ... pesky? ... when playing Oregon. To what do you attribute that, and what kind of chance do you give WSU to hang around for a while on Saturday?
I've noticed that trend, too. I have no idea what to attribute it to. Perhaps players haven't gotten up for the game, but that would just be speculation. I don't give WSU a great chance to stick around, because no one outside of the Huskies has, but the trend could continue.