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Three things to watch as Washington State visits Oregon

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Plus, don’t miss a feature on WSU soccer goalkeeper Nadia Cooper.

Washington State v ASU Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Well Coug fans, we’re at Week 11 of the college football season, and our Washington State Cougars are on the cusp of bowl eligibility for the sixth straight (real) season. WSU has three tries to get to six wins, and it could get there today with an upset over the Oregon Ducks.

It’s no secret that this is a huge game for both teams. The winner takes control of the Pac-12 North, and the Ducks need to win out to have a chance at making the College Football Playoff. Oregon is.....cliche alert!....coming off an emotional win against the floundering Washington Huskies, while WSU was idle. None of that matters today, of course.

WSU impressed greatly in its win over Arizona State on Oct. 30. The Cougs are in a position for a bowl berth despite losing much of its coaching staff on the offensive side of the ball and one on the defensive side. That’s a testament to the players, more than anything. They’ve dealt with some real tough you-know-what that was out of their control and here they are, in a game that should garner plenty of eyeballs tonight.

I mean, who could have predicted, given how the season started and how it ended for Nick Rolovich halfway through, that ESPN would be publishing this:

“The game at Autzen Stadium is a must-win for the Ducks’ College Football Playoff hopes, but it also represents a massive opportunity for the Cougars, who would take over first place in the North with a win. With Arizona on deck and reeling Washington in the Apple Cup to close out the season, the Cougars would be in a strong position to play for the Pac-12 title.”

Here we are. Pace yourselves, Coug fans. We have a long day before the festivities begin.

Three Things to Watch

  1. Kayvon Thibodeaux vs. Abe Lucas and Liam Ryan: Thibodeaux, the presumed first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, is the premier defensive end in college football. The Ducks will line him up on either side, and WSU’s two tackles will have their hands full. Keeping Thibodeaux away from Jayden de Laura will go a long way in keeping the Cougar offense clicking. Good luck, gentlemen.
  2. Fumbles and turnovers in general: Make sure you read Zane’s piece on fumble luck. The two teams’ respective rankings in the Pac-12 when it comes to fumble rate bodes well for WSU....but those are just stats on paper (or in our case, a Tableau chart). As Chris Berman is apt to say: That’s why they play the games.
  3. The Pressure: WSU has yet to play in a hostile territory since the 2019 Apple Cup. With what’s at stake in this one (namely, control of the Pac-12 North), and given the game is under the lights during #Pac12AfterDark, it’s crucial de Laura and co. keep their heads, as they say. These are 18-23-year-olds, remember, and letting the moment get to you too soon is recipe for failure.

Go Cougs.

There are lots of reasons to root for Nadia Cooper

WSU goalie Nadia Cooper shining despite personal loss this season | krem.com
Cooper was named the Pac-12’s Goalie of the Year and Freshman of the Year on Friday. Her success is even more astounding due to the grief she’s been processing.

Cougs vs Griz in round one - Washington State University Athletics
The Cougs head into their 14th postseason all-time including their 5th under Head Coach Todd Shulenberger. WSU is 8-11-4 in the NCAA Tournament and is 6-4-1 in under Shulenberger.

Links

WSU Football

The pick: Why Oregon will beat Washington State | The Spokesman-Review
EUGENE, Oregon – Back on Oct. 9, perhaps inspired by Washington State’s gutty 31-24 win over Oregon State that had just concluded, I made a prediction in the Gesa Field press box.

Two-minute drill: Keys to victory for Washington State against No. 3 Oregon | The Spokesman-Review
Don’t take your eyes off …

‘Our guys have played themselves into this situation’: Washington State stayed the course to set up meaningful game with No. 3 Oregon | The Spokesman-Review
EUGENE – Throughout the two weeks ahead of Washington State’s biggest game of the year, Cougars players have been instructed to proceed as normal.

College football games, Week 11: Michigan, Ohio State look to avoid upsets with Big Ten up for grabs - CBSSports.com
After half the staff was fired because they wouldn’t get vaccinated, Washington State defensive coordinator Jake Dickert was the obvious choice to replace Nick Rolovich. Obvious because it’s Wazzu, the ultimate underdog.

College Football

College football Week 11 - Baylor’s Oklahoma test, Purdue’s next upset bid and more
Can Baylor pass the Oklahoma test? Will Purdue upset its third team in the top four at Ohio State? All that and more in college football’s loaded Week 11.

College football schedule, games 2021: What to watch in Week 11, TV channels, Saturday kickoff times - CBSSports.com
Two key Big Ten games and a Big 12 showdown highlight Week 11 in college football

Basketball

Women's Basketball Announces Three Additions in Early Signing Period - Washington State University Athletics
Washington State women's basketball head coach Kamie Ethridge announced her first two signees for the 2022 signing class.

Washington State overpowers Seattle U in the second half, cruises to 2-0 start | The Spokesman-Review
PULLMAN – Self-described as “usually pretty mild-mannered,” Washington State coach Kyle Smith was uncharacteristically “hot” at the half.

Washington St. pulls away in second half, tops Seattle 79-61 - Washington State University Athletics
PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) Tyrell Roberts scored 17 points and Washington State defeated Seattle 79-61 Friday night for the Cougars' 15th straight nonconference victory.

Cougs Chop Lumber in Win over Northern Arizona - Washington State University Athletics
PULLMAN, Wash. – Sophomore Charlisse Leger-Walker collected her second-straight 22-point performance of the season on Friday, Nov. 12, to lead the Washington State women's basketball team to a 62-54 win over Northern Arizona in Beasley Coliseum.

Other

Cougs Amir Ado and Neema Kimtai turn in All-Region Performances - Washington State University Athletics
SACRAMENTO, Calif.- The Washington State men’s and women’s cross country teams each had a runner post an all-region performance at the NCAA West Regional in Sacramento