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Players to watch as Washington State visits Wisconsin

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

Good morning, Coug fans. Your Washington State Cougars are in Madison, Wisc. today to battle the no. 19 Wisconsin Badgers. Cougs of a certain age will remember the last time WSU went to Madison. It was the 2007 season and Bill Doba and crew fell 42-21, though WSU did lead 7-0 at one point.

Let’s hope today’s fortunes are much better, though Vegas and those who predict these kinds of things don’t see WSU’s chances as being all that high. But as Chris Berman is fond of saying: You’re with me, leather That’s why they play the games.

For WSU to pull off the upset, they’ll need a much better showing than we saw against Idaho, to say the least. Maybe that was first game jitters. Perhaps the playbook was intentionally kept vanilla. Maybe it was a new coaching staff needing to work out the kinks.

Whatever. I’m looking forward to this nationally televised mid-day matchup because when you send a bunch of 18-24-year-olds onto a field and tell them to pass, catch and kick an oddly shaped ball, anything can happen. Let’s hope “anything” includes a WSU victory.

We have some players we’re keeping an eye on. Here’s who they are:

Nakia Watson

Watson, as you know, transferred from Wisconsin to WSU and is now the Cougs’ primary back. He ran for a career-high 117 yards last week and had 17 more through the air. Will he have another career day with more riding on this game, or will this be Alex Brink’s return to Eugene in 2007?

Ron Stone Jr.

Stone was one of my guys to watch last week and he returns once again. We suspected he would be limited against Idaho, and he definitely was, given his lack of playing time in the second half. WSU head coach Jake Dickert says Stone is 100% heading into today’s game. He’ll need to be productive to give WSU a chance.

The WSU receivers

Wisconsin typically has a good defense, but it doesn’t typically go up against Air Raid teams. WSU’s receivers need to be precise in their routes and hold onto the ball.

The WSU offensive line

This group was a question mark heading into the season but it held up its end of the deal agains Idaho. Today, it goes up against a much better foe in the Wisconsin defensive line. Keep the pocket clean and WSU has a good chance. Slip up one too many times and we’re doomed.

Daiyan Henley

Henley not only showed why he’s WSU best linebacker, but he also was a fantastic quote after he sealed the victory last week. This is a huge test for Henley to prove he belongs in the Power 5.


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