Where: Martin Stadium, Pullman, Washington
Oregon’s high-powered offense is well-established while Washington State is still implementing its progressive attack under new coach Mike Leach as the two Pac-12 squads meet Saturday in Seattle. The No. 2 Ducks are averaging 52.8 points and 571 yards per game but also put forth a stunning defensive effort in last weekend’s 49-0 rout of Arizona. Cornerbacks Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Troy Hill each had interception returns for touchdowns and Oregon notched its first shutout in Pac-12 play since 2003. Washington State is coming off a humbling 35-34 home loss to Colorado after blowing a 17-point lead in the final eight minutes. The Cougars are averaging 24.8 points and 372.8 yards per game while learning Leach’s “Air Raid” offense. Oregon has won the past five meetings and seven of the last eight.
ABOUT OREGON (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12 North): The overshadowed defense finally received some attention with the blanking of high-powered Arizona. Senior linebacker Michael Clay was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week after having 13 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble and Ekpre-Olomu had two of Oregon’s four interceptions. Arizona ventured inside the Oregon 20-yard line six times. The Ducks forced five turnovers and have 10 overall. Redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota has been solid with 10 touchdowns against two interceptions and the one-two running punch of senior Kenjon Barner (410 yards, six touchdowns) and sophomore De’Anthony Thomas (276 yards, 11.0 average) continues to be phenomenal. The Ducks are averaging 303.8 yards on the ground.
ABOUT WASHINGTON STATE (2-2, 0-1 Pac-12 North): Sophomore quarterback Connor Halliday will again start in place of injured senior Jeff Tuel (knee) and has thrown four touchdown passes in back-to-back games. The downside is Halliday has thrown five interceptions while completing 54.3 percent of his passes. Junior receiver Marquess Wilson has 18 receptions this season and needs 46 receiving yards to surpass the school record held by Brandon Gibson (2,756 from 2005-08). Washington State’s defense has been spotty, but standout senior linebacker Travis Long continues to excel. Long is tied for first in the nation with 6.5 sacks and his 36 career tackles for losses are fifth most in school history.
1. Washington State is 5-4 when playing a home game at CenturyLink Field, the home of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks.
2. More than half of Oregon’s touchdown drives (14-of-27) have lasted fewer than two minutes. Nine have taken 60 seconds or less.
3. The Cougars are averaging only 59.0 yards on the ground, second-worst nationally.