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Three things to watch as Washington State welcomes Stanford

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NCAA Football: Oregon State at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Well that went fast. We’re halfway through the season, and WSU needs wins. The schedule doesn’t get any easier after this week (except that Arizona game), and today is a winnable one. The Cougs sit at 3-3 and welcome the Stanford Cardinal to Pullman, looking to extend their winning streak over those smarty pants from Palo Alto to five games.

To get above .500, the Cougs need to win their third in a row. Jayden de Laura had a breakout game last week, throwing for almost 400 yards in the win over Oregon State. If he keeps that up, WSU will be in a good spot. The Cougs haven’t put together a full game quite yet, but perhaps today’s the day.

Make sure you read Craig’s preview of the Cardinal so you can be the smartest person at your watch party today. Stanford has some curious results this season: beaten handily by Kansas State, then they turned around a beat then-no. 14 USC. They also upset Oregon before losing to Arizona State.

Two 3-3 teams will meet on Gesa Field this evening. Don’t miss it.

Three Things to Watch

  1. WSU’s running back deployment: WSU’s one-two punch in Max Borghi and Deon McIntosh (or Deon McIntosh and Max Borghi, whatever floats your boat) is the envy of a lot of teams. But it’s been McIntosh who’s been the more impressive running back lately. Borghi’s been banged up going back to last season, so perhaps there are some things he’s playing through, but we all expected Borghi to be the feature back this season. Maybe he still is, but McIntosh got more carries against Oregon State, and the two were just about even against Cal. Of course, we should only care about the end result, but it’s fair to wonder how the two backs will be deployed. This isn’t like the quarterback position where if you have two, you have none. This is a luxury, to be clear.
  2. Pressuring Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee: As Craig’s preview showed, Stanford’s strength on offense is its passing game and the Cardinal once again have giants lining up at wide receiver (seriously, do those grow on...ahem...trees, in Palo Alto?). WSU’s pass rush has improved in recent weeks, and the Cougs will need the likes of Willie Taylor III, Brennan Jackson, Ron Stone and Andrew Edson to make plays to limit Stanford’s passing attack.
  3. Kickoffs: Kickoffs? Who pays attention to kickoffs? WSU kicked two out of bounds last week, giving Oregon State fantastic field position and an easier route to the end zone. Perhaps the Beavs would have scored on those drives anyway, but WSU can’t give teams a shorter field. We all remember the short kick at Oregon in 2019 that helped the Ducks march down for a last-second, game winning field goal. Field position matters.

Go Cougs.

Links

The pick: Why Washington State will beat Stanford | The Spokesman-Review
PULLMAN – It could be Nick Rolovich's last hoorah.

Two-minute drill: Keys to victory for Washington State against Stanford | The Spokesman-Review
Don’t take your eyes off …

'We're really getting rolling right now.' With momentum in its favor, Washington State entertains Stanford | The Spokesman-Review
Two weeks ago, Washington State's prospects were bleak.

College football schedule, games 2021: What to watch in Week 7, TV channels, Saturday kickoff times - CBSSports.com
SEC and Big 12 showdowns highlight Week 7

Cougs bust through the dam in Corvallis - Washington State University Athletics
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Playing their third match on the road No. 25 Washington State (11-6, 5-2) made short work of Oregon State (3-14, 1-6), sweeping away the Beavers,

Cougars Knock Off Arizona for First Time in Program History - Washington State University Athletics
WSU beat Arizona 131.5 - 129.5 to start Pac-12 play.