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Cougars look for eighth straight win Saturday

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Eight in a row isn't unprecedented, but it is extremely rare in these parts.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning. Cougar Football Saturday is here once again, and hopefully many of you are getting ready to do some tailgatin'. The Cougs are aiming for their eighth consecutive win Saturday night, and the Cal Bears stand in their way. Well, the Cal offense might stand in their way. I'm not sure whether the Cal defense will.

WSU is currently a two-touchdown favorite, which speaks to the difference in the respective defenses. While the two offenses are comparable, WSU's defense is markedly better than Cal's. WSU gives up 5.97 yards-per-play, and has surrendered 25 touchdowns in nine games this season. Cal, meanwhile, gives up 6.65 YPP and has allowed a breathtaking 48 touchdowns. Arizona has only allowed 44, and that includes the nine touchdowns WSU scored last Saturday.

On offense, Cal gains a ton of yards, but they also take a lot of plays to gain those yards. They average just 6.05 YPP, while WSU averages a slightly-better 6.31. Cal has scored almost a touchdown-per-game less than WSU, totaling 43 TDs so far this season, compared to WSU's 50. In total, Cal averages an impressive 39.7 points-per-game. That should be good enough to win nearly every game. One problem - Cal is DFL in scoring defense, allowing 44.4.

Compare that to the Cougars, who give up just 24.7 PPG, good for 43rd nationally. That is the one thing that should determine the outcome here. Ok, one more stat - WSU is tied for sixth nationally with a +9 turnover ratio. Cal isn't bad at +1, but if there is one thing we can almost always point to when trying to figure out why one team won, it's the turnover battle. Win that, and you're almost certain to win the game. Well, unless you're Clemson, who loses the turnover battle all the time but still keeps winning.

All of that is a long-winded way of saying that WSU's defense should be the difference Saturday night. Whereas both teams tend to give up a fair amount of yards, WSU often bends but doesn't break. I don't think either offense will have much of a problem moving the ball. Can WSU force Davis Webb into a couple mistakes, while avoiding turnovers themselves? That will almost certainly tell the tale.

All stats aside, WSU's task Saturday night is simple. Beat Cal, and a victory in the Apple Cup means a trip to the Pac-12 title game. But as the great military/sports thinker Carl von Clausewitz (probably) once said, "Everything in college football is very simple, but the simplest thing is difficult." So sit back, crack open one or three of your favorite beverages, mainline some Red Bull if you're on the east coast and enjoy the game. Go Cougs.

Football

WSU wants to make Cal offense one-dimensional on Saturday | The Spokesman-Review
WSU must make the Golden Bears throw it deep, because they are surprisingly bad at it. Cal only averages 6.9 yards per passing attempt, which is only better than Oregon State and Stanford among its league rivals.

2 Minute Drill: WSU’s keys to victory against California | The Spokesman-Review
Do not expect the Cougars to run the ball much, if at all. WSU running backs only averaged 3.2 yards per carry against the Golden Bears during their last two games.

Washington State vs. California Prediction & Game Preview | College Football News
But forget about all the implications, and forget about how much this really does matter in the Pac-12 North world. The only this that matters is that this is going to be a world of fun.

Rising star Alex Grinch has Cougars' defense playing takeaway - Pac-12 Blog- ESPN
Any list of the top young defensive coordinators in college football would be incomplete without Alex Grinch’s name somewhere near the top.

Washington State assistant Roy Manning's videos a new tradition
Before training camp, Washington State outside linebackers coach Roy Manning decided that before practice every day he would shoot a quick video of himself talking about whatever happened to be on his mind and post it to Twitter.

Pac-12 Week 11 game picks: Will No. 20 USC upend No. 4 Washington? - Pac-12 Blog- ESPN
Here are the Pac-12 blog's game picks.

Week 11 Pac-12 viewer's guide: Huge matchup in Seattle - Pac-12 Blog- ESPN
Cal’s Davis Webb and Wazzu’s Luke Falk occupy the top two spots in the Pac-12 this season for the most pass attempts, passing yards and passing first downs.

Cal-Washington State matchup: 1st one to 60 points wins? - SFGate
"They’ve got a phenomenal passing game," Cal defensive coordinator Art Kaufman said. "Falk does a great job. He has been in their system for four years … and he’s only gotten better as he’s gone along."

Matchup: Cal Bears at Washington State Cougars
Cal is hoping to halt its first two-game skid of the season and stop the bleeding on defense, where it has allowed 207 points the past four games.

Pac-12 football: Coaches Hot Seat update
Our mid-November look at the Hot Seat is slightly different in that the coaches are grouped into general-trend categories, not given an individual heat rating.

The story -- and the stats and science -- behind #Pac12AfterDark - Pac-12 Blog- ESPN
In a faraway land and a time that only exists after East Coasters lay their heads on the pillows exists a phenomenon known as the Pac-12 After Dark effect.

Basketball

WSU Basketball and its exciting new #AlwaysBringIt slogan debuted Friday night in Beasley Coliseum. They were able to do something the football team could not, beat a Big Sky team in the opener. That will, in all likelihood, not be the only difference between the football and basketball teams this season.

WSU fends off Montana State in season opener | The Spokesman-Review
What might have been a jubilant assertion that this year would be different for the Washington State basketball team was instead a nervous feeling in the pit of the stomach.

Beer

Best beer I had this week: Stopped by my favorite local beer store Wednesday after work, and found out that veterans got a 10% discount this week. My credit card is just now getting over the beating. Among other greats, I picked up some Sierra Nevada Narwal Imperial Stout. I've realized that when it comes to stouts, I prefer the Imperial kind. I mean, any time you want to make something better, just throw "imperial" in front of it and you're well on your way.

Oldest Beer Brewed from Shipwreck's 220-Year-Old Yeast Microbes
The crew of the Sydney Cove survived by grounding the sinking ship on a tiny island off northern Tasmania, now called Preservation Island, which is part of the inspiration for the name of the recreated beer: Preservation Ale.

Non-Sports

The Other Sister: Returning Home to Care for an Autistic Sibling | People & Profiles | Seattle Met
As many as 700,000 adults in the U.S. with a disability like autism live with parents or another family member who is 60 or older. What happens when those caregivers are gone? One sibling confronts her past and likely future.