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Players to watch as Washington State welcomes Oregon

The crowd will play a huge factor.

Jack Ellis/CougCenter

Good morning, Coug fans. The last time WSU hosted Oregon for an afternoon game broadcast on Fox while wearing all anthracite getups with Tim Brando and Spencer Tillman in the broadcast booth, well, I think you know what happened. If you believe in that kind of magic, you’re already planning a big victory with a field storming and fireworks.

No, College GameDay wasn’t in town for this one, but all the other similarities match up nicely. A win, and the college football world will have to take notice of the Cougs. A loss, and the non-Top 25 votes will be justified.

Oregon comes in ranked 15th in the nation and coming off an impressive win over a really good BYU team. The Ducks looked awful against Georgia to open the season, but Georgia is really good at making teams look awful.

The Cougs, meanwhile, are coming off a nice and easy win against woeful Colorado State, though the team’s second half left much to be desired. The signature win two weeks ago at then-no. 19 Wisconsin remains the gold standard in this young season.

A win would be huge. A loss won’t crater the season. With that, let’s look at some impact players:

Daiyan Henley

Henley’s receiving some first round NFL Draft buzz and is a wrecking ball at the linebacker position. He had three sacks against Colorado State and has four on the season. Oregon hasn’t given up a sack all season. Who gets the first sack today for WSU? Henley, or....

.....The WSU defensive line

Speaking of sacks, WSU has 14 total on the season (that’s good for second nationally), and the defensive line is a big reason for that. We saw what the d-line did to the usually stout Wisconsin offensive line. That performance will need to happen again for WSU to pull off the upset.

The Oregon secondary

[30 for 30 voice] What if I told you that the Oregon secondary sucked? The Ducks are 115th in the nation in pass defense (for comparison’s sake, Colorado State is 95th). Oregon gives up 277 yards passing per game, and a smidge more than eight yards per attempt.

Cam Ward

This is Ward’s biggest test of his career. Will he take advantage of the weak Oregon secondary? Will he have enough time?

Renard Bell

Bell missed the second half against Colorado State and Jake Dickert has been coy about his status. Perhaps he was kept out last week as a precaution. Perhaps it’s something more. If he plays, how effective will he be?

The crowd

OK, not a player. But the crowd in 2018 played a huge role right off the bat. Gardner Minshew had just thrown an interception in the red zone and Oregon had false starts, a near-safety and all sorts of confusion on its first series—all thanks to the noisy fans. Today’s game is sold out. I hope the fans rested their lungs last night.

Go Cougs.


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